Volumes – ‘Different Animals’ (Review)
In 2017, djent has become less a genre or scene and more a musical ingredient, something to be mixed with other (preferably more diverse) influences in the name of progression. With Different Animals, Volumes have nailed that shift perfectly. As evidenced by previous efforts Via and No Sleep, Volumes know where they’ve come from – and where they’re going is somewhere fresh, new, and intriguing.
The further you get into Different Animals, the better it gets. As much as I’d like to declare this album a non-stop ground breaker, Waves Control reminded me immediately of Hacktivist – as did several of the tracks that followed. Don’t get me wrong – Hacktivist are fucking sick, and Volumes’ embracing of pop, electronica, and hip-hop in addition to chunky, metrically superimposed riffage is more than welcome in my ears. But living in such a fast-moving industry as we do now, it’s hard to shake the dismissive instinct that accompanies the thought “…this has already been done,” unreasonable as it is.
For my money, this album’s key tracks are Tides Change, On Her Mind, and Heavy Silence – in other words, half of the songs that come after the Interlude that marks Different Animals’ halfway point. Of the earlier offerings, Finite won out easily, making the most of a gloriously immersive production job – but Feels Good and Pieces both suffered from below-par hooks. Tides Change, on the other hand, is a masterfully orchestrated second interlude boasting serene fingerpicking, dramatic piano, stirring strings, and low-key electronics. It also contrasts brilliantly with what’s still to come.
On Her Mind sounds like Deftones jamming with Hacktivist and Limp Bizkit – and it’s my favourite song on Different Animals, easily. Half pop love song, half bouncy rap-djent onslaught….yep, that’ll do it for me. Nice one!
From there, Heavy Silence slots some faintly Chino Moreno-esque vocals over slow and slinky mellowness before alternating between that vibe and full-tilt djenty brutality. Fast-forward to 1:40 to check out one of the best riffs on Different Animals, featuring the cheekiest pinch harmonics I’ve heard in a good while. After that, Pullin’ Shades’ carefully crafted chorus hooks and Left For Dead’s punishing and practically obligatory Meshuggah tribute still remain – but as cool and precisely executed as they are, they don’t quite match those earlier glimpses of Volumes’ true innovative potential.
Overall, Different Animals feels and is far more experimental than any of Volumes’ previous long-players. This time out, it does feel like they’re testing the waters a bit – but Tides Change, On Her Mind, and Heavy Silence all got this jaded scribe hot under the collar. I wouldn’t go so far as to demand an entire album full of songs that take exactly the same tack as those tracks – but they definitely prove that when Volumes give absolutely zero fucks, good things happen.
If it’s possible to give fewer than zero fucks, I’d like to hear Volumes aim for that next time…
LTK RATING: 85% (Essential Listening!)
What do you think of Volumes and Different Animals? Leave a comment, follow me on Twitter, and let me know!
Different Animals drops June 9; pre-order it on iTunes here.