Voices début album From the Human Forest Create A Fugue of Imaginary Rain was one of the highlights of 2013. Their brand of progressive death metal was as well executed as it was twisted and intense as one might expect from a band formed out of the ashes of the untimely demise of the British legends Akercocke. So when they said they were coming back with a new album it was definitely one to get excited about, especially given it’s a concept album about our fair capital city. And the end result is brilliant. Twisted doesn’t even come close to describing how insane and just fucked up some of the music sounds here, but with a coherent concept running through it and a lot of progressive elements it blows the début out of the water.
London with it’s dark, atmosphere celebrates the darker side of our capital. The criminal underworld, the stench of pollution, and the crowded claustrophobic dirge of living in the dank, dirty city. And the way they recreate this in their music is brilliant. It’s filthy, dirgy and twisted throughout. A low dirty guitar sound, twisting round between brilliant pitch harmonics and progressive rhythmic riffs, backed up by an equally rank sounding bass sound and the ever incredible drumming of David Gray sounds evil, but the album has more variation than just going for the throat as so many bands do. Screams, cleans, growls and spoken word narratives in the vocals all are used to great atmospheric effect, and each song provides it’s own different atmosphere and feel that still contributes to a cohesive whole.
The dark piano, acoustic and mournful cleans of opener Suicide Note set the scene for the following barbarism of Music For The Recently Bereaved, dirty sounding riffs twisting around like an underground tube gone off the goddamn rails. But with a chorus with picked chords and clean vocals adding to the schizophrenic madness, and even parts of softer acoustic guitar you can’t predict where the song is going next, what dingy back street gutiarist Sam Loynes is going to go down next. It’s as progressive as it is dirty and it gets the balance right in a great piece, and the piano intro adds to the ever interesting atmosphere.
As mentioned previously, each song has it’s own atmosphere, whether the short but solemn The Actress, the twisted sounding nature of Vicarious Lover, or the slow eerie foreboding of Mega, but it’s the latter half of the album that houses some of the best pieces of music on the album though, with the gloom of The Antidote being one of the highlights. A slow, haze of soft drums, piano and acoustics provides the atmosphere of a dreary rain drenched London evening, and the melancholic cleans just add to this, Peter Benjamin’s voice is so versatile he sounds just as good singing as dementedly screaming. And the way the riff comes in half way through, slamming down heavily accentuates the feel of desperation, with the subtle strings completing the piece. And the album moves from depressingly downtrodden once more to a completely unhinged release of insanity in The Fucktrance. A release of all the emotion built up in The Antidote comes out in a depraved, unhinged burst of insanity, pinch harmonics twisting around against pummelling blasts, building up the pitch and intensity to a climax that sounds simply insane. The House of Black Light is the best track here though, just the heaviest churning maelstrom of dissonant riffage, blasts and inhuman screaming, and thundering bass on the album. Slamming, progressive, insane, brilliant.
Overall, London is simply, to use the word once again, twisted. It’s just so unhinged, filthy and unique. It doesn’t just follow on from Akercocke, it’s possibly even better than anything the former ever released. Dark, claustrophobic madness from one of the most interesting death metal bands going. Highly recommended.