Warforged – I:Voice Album Review

Warforged art

Due out May 10th, 2019 under The Artisan Era label, WARFORGED debut LP “I:Voice” stakes their claim as a band you absolutely cannot miss if you are a fan of ANY style of metal.

Man… this is a lot to digest. Find somewhere dark, and somewhere alone, because the story you await deals with this despairing isolation in great depth.

This feels like the next logical step for Warforged after wowing with the 2014 EP Essence of the Land (LISTEN HERE). The band masterfully toes the line between experimental and avant garde, never reaching a point of pretentious overexertion nor relenting on their atmospheric and indulging horror trip.

This is an album for almost every single type of metal fan.

Even if you are completely uninterested in the story and lyrical content altogether, which I find exceptionally hard to believe due to how well the music fits the setting, this album is arranged in a way that you will feel everything you  were intended to feel lyrically – the instrumentation is bar none. There is dread, there is horror, there is rage, there is sorrow; the mistake many tend to make with metal albums is that this exists as a casual listen, or for the sake of being “brutal”. This, much like all other art with depth, cannot be taken at mere face value, though even if it were, it still excels past what most expect from metal today, and it maintains this aggressive velocity from start to finish. The horror of Essence of the Land finds its “voice”, ironically, in I: Voice. Heralded similarly with the release of EOTL in 2014 and the single “Two Demons” from 2015, the boys in WARFORGED have once again redefined what was so concrete in metal you’ll begin to wonder if genres even help define music at all.

The amount of work put into this offering is almost unheard of. Vocalist Adrian Perez took time off of work for 3 months to record and edit music videos in house – all DIY and recorded / edited by the band. Impressive boast aside, the work is as far from DIY as you can imagine; everything the band has put out has been professional and intriguing, whether it be full videos with a story and band performance, an in depth explanation of the lyrical content, or a “making of” some of the conceptual sides of the album, I: Voice is the jumping off point for what I imagine will be a long and harrowing trip through the bands upcoming discography.

As explained via their social media, “I:Voice” ‘is a collection of short stories all centered around interwoven dreams. It follows our main character during the first hour or so of his sleep cycle. In the dream, the landscape of his subconscious represents itself as a winding forest surrounded by boundless water & violent, flickering bright light. In folklore, The Hag is a personification / explanation of the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. In the tale of I: Voice, she, in many attempts, tries to guide our main character into nightmares by shifting around the landscape of his subconscious and taking form of various dream people. At the end of “Nightfall Came”, she succeeds in doing so and leads the main character into the center of the forest: the swamp.”

Voice essentially ties to Essence of the Land in the sense that it is a nightmare of the original story, where the reality becomes tenuous and misleading, yet the main character is still left with all of the sorrow and uncertainty. Explained further, Warforged elaborates, ‘It deals with amnesiphobia, claustrophobia, and the inability to aid a suffering friend.’

For those of you who may be less interested in the intricacies of what’s happening lyrically, the music itself is a grand slam in regards to communicating the themes and keeping your traditional metalhead engaged and excited. Balancing dark ambiance and monumentally heavy passages is a feat in itself, and I’ve yet to see it executed so masterfully as in Voice. In reference to how the tone shifts as dramatically as it does, in the same vein as Opeth, Adrian continued to explain; ‘Underwhelm then overwhelm: that’s what dreams feel like and is the most used theme in I:Voice in every way.’  You may find yourself drowning in a wall of sound only to instantly find yourself in silence; this emphasizes not only how massive the tracks are, but also leaves the listener feeling as vulnerable as the character in the story itself.

I: Voice features a prominent list of well known and talented individuals from today’s metal scene, each contributing a piece that fits the overall tone yet remains characteristic of each additional voice or fretboard. Once again, balance is key here, and Warforged knocks it out of the park with how well each and every piece falls into place among what the band themselves have procured. For example, in the track “Willow”, Artificial Brain‘s WILL SMITH appears in a swirling, blastbeat saturated section and is instantaneously recognizable; the buildup to this piece a slow and ambient pulse fading out from a dark, almost jazz influenced transition, blending in from a tempo changing piano repetition. I simply fail when I try to explain what’s happening here because I have never heard anything this multidirectional. Where most bands would fall apart and turn this into a ska-prog mess of a song, Warforged not only manage to blend and blacken a multitude of genres, they pull it off so well you’d never take note of the wild influences unless you sat down to review their album.

Nearing the end of the album, the tone begins to take the form of a conclusion. Though this is only the beginning as Voice is part I, it wraps itself up as a standalone album without a cliffhanger. My personal favorite track, “Old Friend”, the second to last track, sets the stage for the final track with a majority of piano and synthesizer. Rhythmic and chilling, muted screams build into a gradual rise in momentum; momentarily lost, yet back once again into a synthesizer riddled groove of blackened progressive death metal. This lasts only for a moment, as the key and hi-hat rhythm returns and Tymon Kruidenier of Exivious / ex-Cynic / Our Oceans lends his talents for a mildly distorted solo reminiscent of Opeth’s “Watershed”. Returning even stronger, the guitars lead this section from chugging, disgusting riffing to melodic and intimidating. This continues until the tempo builds, slowly crescendoing into a powerful vocal line.

“I looked back at the pain with the fondness of an old friend and I turned away.
I looked back at the years with the fondness of an old friend and turned away.
I looked to the bay, to the water.”

As far as resolutions go, Warforged end I:Voice on a high note; “The Color of My Memory” is essentially a blackened tech death goodbye to the nightmare that the main character has run from for the duration of the album. I’ll leave the anticipation to the reader; though the tone changes multiple times through the listen, the atmosphere remains and the haunting, low hanging cloud of dread stares you down to the very last second. As the rest of the instruments strike their final notes, almost instantaneously an ambient and reverse fading synthesizer carries you to the final moment in what feels like a disconcerting moan.

‘I pulled my creeping hand from his mind and into the darkness I stepped back, I vanished.

It’s time to leave the land from which I grew.
I let you go.
It’s time to leave the land from which I knew.
I’ll let you go.’

I:Voice is a truly original horror story and a hell of a ride from start to finish. Pick it up HERE on release day or preorder now.

 




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