Volumes – ‘Happier?’

By Dave Stewart

If you like your metal heavy and with grooves so irresistible they make your limbs move before your brain can process it, then you’re probably already very aware of Volumes. First emerging with their dark 2010 EP ‘The Concept Of Dreaming’ and then their stunning debut album ‘Via’ that took the metalcore world by storm, the band have been on a steady rise over the last decade that’s taken them all over the world.

Their last full length record ‘Different Animals’ was released almost five years ago, and the years that followed have been the most turbulent in the band’s history. After a handful of line-up changes and the tragic death of founding guitarist Diego Farias, the band have welcomed original vocalist Michael Barr back to their ranks and, after a string of gut-punching singles, have emerged with their brand new record ‘Happier?’. Has it been worth the wait? Will it make you happier?

The simple answer is yes, and it’s for many different reasons. Tracks like album opener ‘FBX’ and ‘Malevolent’ will have you strapping on your finest pit shoes and making a dash for the nearest open space, both tracks armed with enough low-tuned menace to summon anger in the calmest mind. ‘Into You (Hurt)’ is another heavy hitter, showing off the pipes of Barr and fellow vocalist Myke Terry’s as it opts for a creepier and more sinister approach, making the drops all the more punishing.

There’s also the intense riff-fest of ‘Man On Fire’, the unforgiving assault of ‘Void’ and countless other flashes of brutality, but this album’s shining light is beaming from all its melodic moments. The chorus of ‘Get Enough’ is one of the finest of their entire career, giving the verses a lift from reserved and ready to hook-laden heaven. ‘Lets Me Down’ is a towering metalcore giant, throwing massive riffs and dreamy vocals from every angle as they drive towards an irresistible closing breakdown. The album closer and title track is the show-stopper here though, providing an impactful and emotional finale to the album that expertly touches on everything the preceding tracks delivered.

If you’ve been a fan of the band from the beginning this record will feel borderline nostalgic, and if it’s new you’ll likely find yourself completely drawn in by its charm. If you fall into the former category, hearing Barr back in the band and putting his stamp on Volumes tracks again will be a real treat, but if you’re new here then you might not immediately notice there are two vocalists. Sometimes his voice gets lost alongside Terry’s, and their vocal similarity makes sense as Terry was Barr’s replacement after his departure back in 2015. Their screaming styles are very hard to tell apart when they’re trading off, but Barr’s grasp on pace and vocal structure is incredibly firm and makes the dual vocal attack more powerful than ever.

This record is like a summary of their career to this point, bringing every musical trick they’ve learnt to the table and putting on a show that’s terrifying and dazzling in equal measure. There’s a hint of darkness swirling throughout, masked by bright melodies, huge hooks and irresistible rhythms, and they all make its re-emergence that little bit more ominous each time it comes back around. Whether the sonic round-up was intentional or not, ‘Happier?’ serves as a blaring reminder that Volumes have still got plenty of gas left in the tank – something that we can only hope Diego would be immensely happy about. Now, where do they go next?

DAVE STEWART

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