REVIEW: Volumes – No Sleep [2014]

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Artist: Volumes

Album: No Sleep

 

Without a doubt, you have lay in bed, counting the seconds between the rise and fall of your chest, trying to calm yourself to the sounds of your own steady breathing. No matter how hard you try to focus your thoughts on one calming, serene image you cannot—instead, your thoughts race, fallen victim to restlessness in your pursuit of the ghostly notion of rest. While some people suffer from this cruel contagion of sleeplessness, others benefit from it, slaving into the wee hours of the day and making their acquired insomnia into something productive. Volumes undoubtedly rest firmly in the latter group. These Los Angeles Lords of Groove continue their crushing reign on progressive metalcore with No Sleep, an album so wonderfully composed that one can only speculate at the number of sleepless nights that were funneled into its creation.

If you, the listener, have any experience with Volumes (and if you don’t, really, where have you been?), you’re no doubt aware what their known for: intense, impeccable grooves. No Sleep cashes in on every check that Via wrote and then some, lacing each track with entrancing, gyrating riffs that wind their way deep inside the listeners brain and stay stuck there, refusing to come unlodged. Guitarist Diego Farias weaves untouchable harmonies of musical majesty under the guise of relative effortless, flowing from crushing, abrasive chugging to soaring, serene leads at the flip of a switch. “The Mixture,” No Sleep’s bounce-friendly opening number, makes fantastic evidence of this—as does “Up All Night,” a track that features Volumes at both their heaviest and most melodic. However, Farias’ fretwork—flawless as it may be—would be for naught without the strong, bolstering low-end of Raad Soudani’s rampaging bass guitar and Nick Ursich’s punctual, sturdy percussion. Providing a strong scaffold when needed, and adding bold, intense fills as they fit, Ursich provides a fantastic metronome by which the band’s entire dynamic adheres to, following it as if it were a guiding light.

Noteworthy as it is, Volumes’ musical prowess is nothing new—fans of Via and the band’s debut EP can tell you that. While the instrumentation sees refinement and adjustment when compared to their past works, No Sleep’s vocal element is where the band truly breaks from their own mold. The shining, effervescent “Up All Night” is all the evidence the listener needs to hold this true. “Up All Night” has, simply put, one of the catchiest choruses ever written, with an interlude that features Michael Barr’s warbling, crooned clean vocals done so well, they would melt the heart (and panties) of just about anyone—fangirl or otherwise. On the other hand, harsh vocalist Gus Farias simply shines—as he does on every track—with a raw, rough mid-range shout that is capable of dipping into a brutalizing low growl or a high-strung shriek. While “Up All Night” and the hypermelodic “Erased” highlights Barr’s vocal range exceptionally, tracks like “Neon Eyes” and “Pistol Play” show Farias as the talented, visceral and energetic vocalist he truly is.

Between a diverse and engaging vocal performance and the masterful musicianship the listener would expect from them, Volumes have honed their already razor-sharp dynamic into something lethal. No Sleep is an enormous, hypnotizing mosaic of musical brilliance, beginning with the rough-and-tumble “The Mixture,” and rolling through rough seas and smooth patches alike until it finale establishes an equilibrium between the two with “Up All Night.” While it is true that No Sleep shows volumes embracing a more melodic and calm side, there are still portions of heaviness raw and visceral enough to pry flesh from bone with the utmost ease. “Pistol Play” is a frantic and furious track that shoots first and asks questions later, while “91367” is a blitzkrieg upon the listener’s sanity, tearing their brain into fragments of grey matter and making a mess of their gyri and sulci. These moments of lacerating intensity are repaired by the relative grace and serenity found within the romantic, sexy “Across the Bed,” as well as the album’s two ambient interludes, “Better Half” and “Peace of Mind.” While calming and reflective, these two interludes bring about the only flaw apparent in Volumes’ sophomore full-length release: why two? Fans of the band who have been waiting with bated breath for No Sleep might find themselves shorted by the relative abundance of interludes—that is to say they might, until the rest of the album’s rampaging run time makes up for the dips in full-bodied material.

Next time you find yourself sleepless at three in the morning, don’t resign yourself to a night of tossing and turning. Instead, plug in your headphones and get lost in Volumes’ latest release. No Sleep is a diverse, dynamic and groovy release that will, without a doubt, get the listener’s heart racing and pulse pounding—leaving them up all night with no sleep in sight.

 

9.5/10

For Fans Of:  Vildhjarta, Northlane, In Hearts Wake, Structures, Sea of Trees

By: Connor Welsh