|Musical Style: Gothic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2011||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 43:34|
Metal enthusiasts - including the ones at this website - have been known to wonder why record labels continue to invest in the same tried and true method. I mean, how many trendy modern rock and nails over chalkboard extreme metal bands can you sign until the scene borders on the stagnant if not all out contrived? Wouldn’t it make better sense to go against the grain by signing an artist that is not afraid to think outside the box and approach things from a different standpoint?
Voice Of Glass is one such band in question. Originating in Bulgaria following the turn of the century, Voice Of Glass produced its first single, “Valley”, in early 2006 and second, “Song Of Songs”, later the same year. After putting out a three song EP in 2007, the group relocated to the United States in 2009 and began work on its summer of 2011 full length debut The End Of You.
What I hear in Voice Of Glass is Gothic metal with occasional progressive overtones. Yes, the group fits the bill when it comes to the widely held definition of Gothic metal: Combining the dark melancholy of Gothic rock with the aggression of heavy metal. And true to form, Voice Of Glass takes a leaning for the swarthy and atmospheric while mixing prominent guitar lines, a disconsolate low end and resonant female vocals.
So within what Gothic metal sub-category does Voice Of Glass fall? Well, the group brings little if any of the symphonic elements to Tristinia and early Within Temptation while the same can be said for the alternative leanings of Lacuna Coil and Evanescence. Likewise, Voice Of Glass bypasses the extreme influences of Graveworm and Trail Of Tears in addition to more doom-ish tendencies not unlike Draconian and Paradise Lost.
So where does this leave us? With a group that is not afraid to bring its own unique spin to the Gothic metal genre. It starts with vocalist Olya Meek, who helps set Voice Of Glass apart by singing in a lower register in comparison to contemporaries such as Tanja Lainio (Lullacry), Vibeke Stene (Tristania) and Liv Kristine (Theater Of Tragedy). With her deep and obtrusive vocal style, she brings out the best in a gloomy piece like “Essence”, in which she exhibits the full range to her voice, and the aptly entitled ballad “Ballad”, that finds her taking the more even and tempered approach. On the moody “Weathered Storm” she even cuts loose in operatic fashion. It adds up to an impressive showing from one of the more distinct performers in a Gothic rock scene already awash with female vocalists.
Guitarist David Meek proves responsible for the all out heaviness to the Voice Of Glass sound. A more commercial track along the lines of “Lost Within”, for instance, might features its share of catchy hooks but is not shy about delivering significant punch either. “In The Shadows”, with its occasional thrash-like moments, and “Believe” and “Mirror”, bringing calm to heavy and back and forth again time changes, showcase the more progressive aspect to Voice Of Glass but hit like a ton of bricks at the same time. “Inside It Creeps” and “The End Of You” are up-tempo all the way but fail to back off from the guitar based leanings.
The albums able production succeeds in placing equal emphasis on the polished (in terms of allowing the instrumentation to stand out) and weighty (from the previously referenced heaviness to the material here).
The only thing constructive to offer is that the material to The End Of You took some time to grow into, but since most Gothic rock requires a bit of patience (at least that has been my experience) then accept this as an observation as opposed to critique. Also, it would have been interesting if the group had experimented more with keyboards in order to bring further ambient touches to its sound.
Track By Track
“Lost Within” stands out with its commercial leanings, highlighting a radio friendly feel as a result of its penchant for the gripping and hook driven. But the song fails to forsake muscle at the same time, allowing for the trademark Voice Of Glass heaviness to play every bit as much a prevailing role.
“Essence” starts slow and tempered almost in semi-ballad fashion. At a moments notice, however, a dominant rhythm guitar cuts in, taking the song ahead in the deeper and gloomier direction in upholding a sublimely done chorus and Olya Meek’s commanding vocal presence.
“In The Shadows” brings some interesting time and tempo changes. The song revolves around aggressive double bass driven instrumental moments - giving rise to some thrash-like elements - interspersed between melodic based verses and chorus approaching sweeping territory.
“Between The Walls” also features its share of twists and turns. The song opens tranquilly prior to the rhythm guitar cutting in, maintaining the swarthy emphasis as it moves forward in drifting between more forcefully done moments and others reflecting the same calmer touch at the beginning.
The sound of wind and rain in the backdrop, appropriately, opens “Weathered Storm”. Ethereal and ambient territory is explored as the song drifts ahead, with Olya again exhibiting the full range to her voice as she cuts loose in an operatic manner for a chorus bordering on the lofty in capacity.
One of the albums more up-tempo pieces, “Inside It Creeps” stands out with its mirthfully flowing melody and resounding drum performance. The song might be short and concise at just under three minutes but still reflects the group’s guitar driven focus.
“Believe” highlights elements of the collected and forceful. The song maneuvers its length to calmer, acoustic laced passages but can pick up the pace expontially when a staunch rhythm guitar steps forward fixed and firm. Albums best run of lead guitar closes things out.
“The End Of You”, a shorter and more spirited piece along the lines of “Inside It Creeps”, delivers hooks galore. The song slowly builds momentum its length, gaining added force for its verses only to culminate for the all out energy that is its abundant chorus.
“Mirror” comes across as a substantial low end plodder. Eerie and haunting at times (with a crushing rhythm guitar leading the way) and melodically driven at others (in which the more relaxed environs is fostered), the song rates with the albums more creative and diverse.
The aptly entitled “Ballad” proves just that: Driven acoustically front to back in softly done fashion but with occasional traces of light rhythm guitar adding the purposeful touch. No, not the heaviest piece here but in no way a lessoning in terms of quality either.
I like what I hear in The End Of You, particularly the heavier approach Voice Of Glass lends to the Gothic metal genre. The low-key vocals of Olya Meek give the group its signature sound while the consistent songwriting and quality production helps round things out. There is only one question to ask at this point: And that is why Voice Of Glass are not signed? You would think a label would be willing to take a chance on a group creative enough to break the mold and not follow the latest commercial musical fashion trends.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Lost Within” (4:40), “Essence” (4:49), “In The Shadows” (3:40), “Between The Walls” (4:17), “Weathered Storm” (5:31), “Inside It Creeps” (2:55), “Believe” (5:39), “The End Of You” (2:46), “Mirror” (3:52), “Ballad” (5:03)
Olya Meek – Lead Vocals
David Meek – Guitars
Juan Hernandez – Bass
Dragan Urosevic – Drums