Honestly, I’m a bit over the all-pervasive clean/screamo vocal combo around at the moment. Thankfully, Sydney based metallers, Recoil V.O.R are different.
Immediately grabbing my attention for the sparingly used clean vocals, intertwined with a tasty stew of different musical elements – the album stands out more than a lot of metal I’ve seen lately. It doesn’t simply fall neatly into the grind/thrash or prog/post rock category, but has a liberal sprinkle of many elements, dolloping where necessary.
‘Power‘ sounds like a dude playing a battered old guitar in a dark basement. It’s beautifully crackly and jangly before the power gets switched on and the heaviness drops in, bathing us in lazy, warm and viscous guitar. Purely instrumental, lulling me into a false sense of security – before all is shattered by ‘Broken Arm‘. There’s a lot going on here – djenty guitars, tempo changes, soaring guitar solos, a break down, haunting clean vocals – which I soon come to realise is just how these guys do what they do.
‘Commit to Memory’ is where I start to get convinced they are on to something. Haunting guitar melodies mesmerise me, as a scratchy recording plays an older woman’s retelling of a girls suicide. The reasons why remain a mystery – seemingly unresolved – just like the track; all of it ending abruptly just as I am piecing together the story and enjoying the atmosphere created.
The distortion of ‘The Fear‘ wakes me from my reverie. The clean vocals soaring over screams ‘The fear, the fear is controlling. The fear, the fear is consuming‘ feeling like it follows on thematically from the previous song, maybe giving us some explanation or closure. Then a sweet trembling guitar solo, before an orchestral finish.
‘Cheers‘ could almost be something from sleepmakeswaves – instrumental, beautiful and a complete 180 from the previous tracks. Certainly, it’s easy to be thrown with the album. It’s pretty dense and keeps me guessing at the same time. They throw me here again as the tired female voice from ‘Commit to Memory‘ rises to the surface to lament about her love of music and how it’s all she has to ‘fill in time’.
I saw the final three tracks clocking in at 4, 5 and over 7 minute marks, and felt some trepidation. ‘El Dia Mas Largo‘ raucously saunters in, with no pause from the previous song. All of these final tracks run into each other. Organs, time changes, a drum solo. It’s here that I finally put my finger on why I like these clean vocals – they remind me of Brann Dailor (Mastodon) who I love.
‘El Mas Devenir’ s pretty guitar line skitters in — only to be stalked by a heavy drum beat – and finally captured by heavy riffs in a net of a shiny wandering guitar solo. Yet another twist, as some spoken word burbles forth. A steely eyed, rallying speech about sticking together and getting through the bullshit -‘No matter what happens we’re all brothers‘ – the track promises.
‘I’m in debt to you as long as my heart beats strong, and it’s true what they say don’t wish it away for anything‘ the track continues, my trepidation gone. I could spend another 300 words just on the final three tracks – totally immersed in the sound and structure of the melodies.
Certainly, the album doesn’t define ‘sleep for the masses’, but more likely one of those strange dreams that’s simultaneously beautiful, strange and dark.