REVIEW: Borderlands – Voice of the Voiceless [2016]


Artist: Borderlands

Album: Voice of the Voiceless


While there is no shortage to the things that plague mankind, we are, on the whole lucky—as even when we don’t have the ability to remedy our own poor situations, we can reach out to others who can. There are charities, institutions, governments and sponsors all who dedicate themselves to helping those crying out for need.

But what about those that cannot speak?

If there was an outcry we could match to the suffering endured by our environment, or the world as a whole—that which we have slaved to near-death while it suffers in silence–it would be the full length album by Borderlands, adequately titled Voice of the Voiceless. A relentless blend of progressive groovesmithing and ravaging aggression, Voice of the Voiceless is a sprawling, stunning—yet tasteful—display of boundary-budging progressive metalcore, blurring the borders that define it.

Voice of the Voiceless is an instrumental whirlwind. Once Borderlands wind up to their top speed, there is barely an instance in which they slow down. This is primarily due to percussionist Cristóvão Monteiro. Monteiro is a madman behind the kit—dominating with barbaric, raunchy patterns during “Children of the Storm,” yet showcasing neck-snapping speed and technicality with his footwork on “Essencia.” Monteiro masterfully blends simple, bouncy patterns with moments of mind-boggling speed, keeping the listener constantly on their toes—as seemingly the only person who can keep up with him is bassist Gonçalo Beco. Beco adds depth and girth to every flooring smack of Monteiro’s kick drum—even during the supersonic spats that define the breakdowns in “Essencia” and “Voice of the Voiceless.” Here, Beco roars on every cylinder just to keep up—however, during more atmospheric moments, like those in “Lineage,” Beco is able to fill the aether between Monteiro’s masterful drumming and the ethereal fretwork from guitarists Hugo Capelo and Yuri José. Capelo and José work atop Borderlands’ blistering drumming—with intense, piercing riffs (“The Curse” is a stunning example) and moments of awe-inspiring atmosphere (“Lineage”is a strong instance of this). However, where Capelo and José are both capable at riffs and spacey, cleanly played notes, they are also more than capable at crushing breakdowns; those who doubt this would do well to endure the closing minutes of “The Curse,” or the entirety of “Voice of the Voiceless.” Together, the duo span entire landscapes of instrumental ingenuity—with mountain-crumbling breakdowns and soaring riffs that nearly touch the sun.

Where Borderlands roam hither and to with their musicianship, their vocal effort is slightly more rudimentary and streamlined—anchoring the band’s intense instrumentation to a single base. Frontman Rui Martins boasts a beefy, brutish voice that rarely strays from a thick, lower-than-average shout. Primarily, this fits Borderlands very well—as it gives Voice of the Voiceless a true voice to be feared and respected. However, more atmospheric and less aggressive songs like “Children of the Sun” would do very well with more vocal ingenuity to match the oscillating instrumentation. Even as the song includes the album’s only moments of clean singing, Martins’ voice still seems out of place—especially as his burly roars sharply contrast the melodic and emotive instrumentation that concludes the track. For the most part, however, this is a non-issue, as Borderlands keep things heavy enough during the duration of Voice of the Voiceless, such that Martins fits (albeit haphazardly at points) during the rest of the release.

Borderlands take a style of music most people shrug off as “djent” and absent-minded and turn a complete 180 with it. Voice of the Voiceless is a progressive metalcore album with heart and hellish heaviness both—enough groove to keep fans of proggy, fluid metal entertained while adding enough moshable intensity into the mix to keep spinkicking pit warriors thoroughly engrossed. Atop it all, it packs a touching message, boasting awareness and kindness while neatly stuffing it into a lethally heavy and aggressive vector. While it would be nice to see more from the band—both more content and more diversity from frontman Martins—the band’s latest offering is lengthy enough to feel like a full length, even if it is a short one. More than anything, Borderlands annihilate the borders defining devastating metalcore with progressive metal—giving fans of both genres something solid to feast their ears on.



For Fans Of: Erra, Invent, Animate, Northlane, In Hearts Wake

By: Connor Welsh