Before I get into this review, I would like to state that the Vox Vocis is donating this week’s proceeds to the American Red Cross that will support victims of Hurricane Harvey. You can buy the album here.
It has been a very long time since I have heard a refreshing rock album. I find that a lot of the music I’ve encountered has been repetitive in terms of style and sound. Vox Vocis breaks that notion with their debut album “In The Arms Of The Sun”. I initially found out about these guys on the subreddit TheFence, a group dedicated to fans of Coheed and Cambria. One of the band members of Vox Vocis gave some copies of the album away and I was one of the fortunate ones to get it. After sitting on it for a month or so, I decided to give it a listen, and it was by far the best album I’d heard in a long time.
Song By Song Breakdown:
The album is a blending of many genres, but it keeps it’s roots in prog rock with a hint of indie. The entire project is a concept album, following the ‘tale of Cadence and Anacrusis Casso as Ana takes experimental drugs to cure her deafness’. After the first couple of listens to the story comes to life, but not before wowing you with their musicianship.
The album opens up with Ad Initium Casso, a song with a very syncopated bridge that I absolutely love. The way the drummer Zachary Burton places the bass drum pattern in such a way to bring the rim shots to life is mesmerizing to listen to. The second song Erroneous Anacrusis brings it in with a much heavier verse and great harmonies by the band for the chorus. It’s a catchy song, that’s for sure, especially with the way Alex enunciates the phrase “Even though you won’t hear my voice in the quiet ”
Breathe is the third song, and it is what I believe to be is the single for this band. Within a second of hearing it, you’ll understand why. Alex belts right into your ear drums with the opening line, but then you are greeted with what I thing is one of the prog-iest riffs in this entire album. The riff is so gnarly and sits so well in the mix the entire time. Even the chords that are used in the chorus are choppy and well utilized. Even the way the build up in the bridge to bring the final chorus back is brilliant. This song, in my opinion, personifies the band.
The album moves into Terror Rivery Gypsy, a song that isn’t as memorable as the rest of the other songs, but has a beautiful outro that leads nicely into one of my favorite songs on the album– Side Effects Take Effect. This song was hinted at in Breathe, and it seemingly sounds like an instrumental sans a single verse that’s five minutes into the song. On my first listen of the album, this was the song that got me hooked on the whole project.
The way the song starts, you’d think it was going to go off into some crazy time signatures, but it doesn’t! It builds up, then falls down, and is then built up again, but this time with a 8 bars picking up the pace until it takes you to the solo. It then transitions into a very Coheed and Cambria styled riff that could have easily came off of “In Keeping Secrets”.
The sixth song, Anacrusis In A Crisis, features one of my favorite concepts when it comes to rock music, having the bass play the lead melody and usher the song in. Once again, the band knocks it out of the park on the chorus with the two guitars “fighting” each other. Zach is also able to sneak in some very tasty drum fills while keeping the entire song on track. Winter Queen is the track that follows up Anacrusis and it is my second favorite song on this entire project.
When it comes to reviewing these songs, it becomes very difficult to quantify just what is so great about them. Winter Queen is one of those songs that just fits that struggle. I can’t explain why it is my favorite. Maybe it’s the guitar solo towards the end of the song, or the fact that bass is very prominent in the verses of this song. The entire song sounds very full and it is surprising considering the lack of keys or synth.
The eighth track is the only ballad on the album, and it sits towards the end of the project. I’d have to say that this was my least favorite song on the project, and not because it was a ballad. It more so has to do with what the drums and guitar are doing in the song. I felt that they were just too loud to fit the feel of the song.
After the ballad, the albums starts to wind down with the final two songs, The Hardened Heart and In The Arms Of The Sun. The Hardened Heart is another song that has a very Coheed and Cambria feel to it, especially lyrically. The is very similar to how Claudio from Coheed presented the Writing Writer and I thought it fit this concept quite well. To close this album in true prog fashion is In The Arms Of The Sun, a 9 and a half minute prog jam that opens up with a tight ghost noted drum patterns. The song goes through quite a few changes in both ferocity and sound, but it closes in a very ambient manner.
Like I said earlier in this review, I can’t quite put my finger on why I love this album as much as I do. Despite the overall production being rough around the edges, the album feels fresh to me. It feels different and unique, yet familiar in a way that’s odd to me. Songs like Winter Queen, Breathe and This Hardened Heart have some of the best riffs I’ve heard in a while, similar to Intervals’ “The Shape Of Colour”. The album overall is a brilliant story, and I really enjoyed the premise of it. My only wish is that this album gets released on vinyl one day! I would wholeheartedly recommend this album to anyone who’s looking for something that sounds fresh and for any fans of prog rock.