Album: No Leaders – EP
I’ve never been very politically inclined, however it doesn’t take an expert to know that the current state of American government and politics is “disrepair” at best, and “destroyed” at worst. Look at the disparity in income, look at the crumbling socio-economic environment—hell, look at this year’s election. The “America” that has survived and thrived over the past century is rapidly crumbling, and the call for a new ruling order has never been louder. It can be heard in the streets, in schools and in factories—but most aggressively it can be heard on the latest EP from Oswego-based onslaught Volition. No Leaders is a raunchy, riotous call for change that is as ruthless as it is rebellious. Masterfully written metalcore with perfect production and a powerful message, No Leaders is a cast-iron link between today’s spin-kicking youth and socially aware activists that will turn as many heads as it splits in half.
No Leaders is a churning, energetic and violent call for change—and Volition are the instigators, using intense instrumentation to capture the listener’s attention. The group combine straightforward metalcore with technicality, bounce and groove—and percussionist Josh Joray is at the core of the entire movement. Serving as the band’s furiously thumping heart, Joray absolutely dominates during the entirety of No Leaders, from the first bouncy breakdown of “N3-13” to the aftermath of the explosive conclusion to “Hyron.” “Failure” is an especially strong example of Joray’s drumming—quickly toggling between lacerating blast beats and blistering kick drum patterns to bold, groovy breakdowns dotted with devilishly quick fills—he served as a highlight for the track. However, where Joray goes, bassist Christian Bartell is never far behind. Coating every lick and groove of Joray’s with thick, acrid grime and grit, Bartell is both crucial for the formation of Volition’s low end, but he also adds an extra fretboard to the mix, often heard alongside guitarist Noah Jones, plodding and bouncing away. “Allegiance” is an excellent example—with Jones grooving away with low, dense chugs and riffs, Bartell bounces somewhere between the sharp guitar tone and stellar percussion. Jones does t just relegate the band to breakdown after breakdown, however. “Suffer the Children” has a distinctly Rage Against the Machine influence (especially in the introduction), while “Allegiance” and “Hyron” both feature high-flying and eerie leads that add dissonant atmosphere to every bone-grinding breakdown. Together, the trio work excellently as a cohesive unit, crafting catchy-yet-intelligent metalcore with prominent doses of nu and groove influence to add spice and flair.
Where Volition draw enough energy to start a revolt from their musicianship alone, the real power behind the message in No Leaders comes from frontman Eli Martinez—who needs no real introduction. Martinez is to nu-metalcore and metalcore in general what Jon Huber or Dan Watson is to Deathcore—what Johnny Craig or Tilian Pearson is to post-hardcore (minus the substance abuse issues). Martinez is, simply put, an incredible vocalist, and every line and lyric of No Leaders is proof of this. Martinez hits shiver-inducing highs on “Allegiance” and “Suffer the Children,” while hitting grimy, guttural lows on “Failure” and practically embodying despair on “Hyron.” Martinez proves his range on every track of No Leaders, but on the lengthier songs, he adequately proves his endurance as well—as he cranks through “Allegiance” and “Gray” like a juggernaut, never missing a beat. Martinez takes absolutely incredible musicianship and molds it to his own will, giving the listener something truly unique.
With a majority of the songs running longer than average, and every track having at least two or three absolutely incredible moments, No Leaders is a lengthy EP that gives listeners every bit the experience they’ve been waiting for from Volition. Between intelligently written songs that use breakdowns and grooves beautifully as moments of climax between stellar sequences of build-up and anticipation and Martinez’s unstoppable vocals, any fan of heavy music would be hard pressed to find anything to complain about on No Leaders. Even Sam Bottner’s production is nothing short of perfect, fitting every song like a glove, highlighting each instrument powerfully while letting Martinez shine. If the guest appearance in “Common Practice” doesn’t give the listener chills, “Hyron” surely will—as those two songs see Volition combining emotion and gritty introspection with their poignant political message. Even for those who avert themselves from topics of government, voting and politics, No Leaders will instantly become a hit—proving Volition might just be the leaders metalcore needs.
For Fans Of: Barrier, Altered Perceptions, Varials, Sustenance
By: Connor Welsh