9th June 2017 – Fearless Records
01. Waves Control
03. Feels Good
04. Disaster Vehicle
08. Tides Change
09. On Her Mind
10. Heavy Silence
11. Pullin’ Shades
12. Left For Dead
Different Animals is a curious title for a new album from Volumes, as it represents a partial truth, no matter how one dissects it. In one sense, Volumes themselves are different as they have enlisted a new vocalist, Myke Terry, who elevates what the band as a whole is capable of with his smooth clean singing, compared to the monotony offered by previous screamer Michael Barr. The prior vocal duo of Barr and Gus Farias (notorious for failing to deliver on paid guest spots for other artists and for writing tweets so inscrutable and offensive that it makes Donald Trump look like Neil deGrasse Tyson) was unarguably the most redundant co-vocalist team in all of metal and utterly failed to justify the team dynamic; if not live, then certainly on recordings. On the other hand, can it really be said that Volumes are different when the music on display is the same djent that was stale five years ago with predictable pop melodies sprinkled on top? That’s really more of a rhetorical question, as Different Animals is not appreciably different from or better than anything else in the subgenre.
The first taste of Different Animals, “Waves Control“, is immediately arresting with its intensity and general competency. Volumes’ greatest asset has always been its tight rhythmic section that is composed of lead guitarist Diego Farias, drummer Nick Ursich, and MVP bassist Raad Soudani. “Waves Control” is a really strong first showing and shows what they are capable of when every piece comes together cohesively. It is the best song on the album and makes the rest of Different Animals comparatively disappointing, as the formula that emerges at the second track “Finite” wears thin almost instantly and never relents for the eleven tracks that follow.
What the listener is treated to starting with “Finite” is simple and auto-tuned to hell; singalong choruses that were effective when Bring Me The Horizon did it a few years ago, with the benefit of melodious instrumentals to support their ambition. These are further dragged down by the vapid and embarrassing lyrics that is the kind of melodramatic pre-teen pabulum that would not be out of place on an early Avril Lavigne song. This is not at all an exaggeration, mind you. Please enjoy an excerpt from “Pieces” and see if you can tell:
“Here in my tragedy, drifting from sanity, I’m falling down to pieces, I’m falling down to pieces
Nowhere left to run, nowhere left to hide, no escape from the thoughts that plague my mind”
Have another one from the blatantly misogynistic “On Her Mind”
“200 calls on my phone that I missed voice mails
Talkin bout where u at where u been
I need to know who u with
I already told u that I’m with the homies recording
I can’t be reportin my moves all day
More time with you less money go my way
Lemme do my thang, lemme rock my chain
When I get home let the dingaling swing”
And of course
“You not the only one
You think I owe u sum’
You think you know me
But you not the lonely one
I don’t feel anything anymore
Look me in my eyes
I’m ready to die, bust my .45
Break bread with my guys
When I’m counting baby don’t hit my line
Turn around bow down lemme feel your spine”
“You were everything, everything that I wanted (that I wanted)
We were meant to be, supposed to be but we lost it
And all of the memories, so close to me, just fade away
All this time you were pretending
So much for my happy ending”
Okay that last one actually was Avril Lavigne, but the lyrics are 6th grade notebook poetry-quality from beginning to end, vacillating from vapid young adult literature to edgy YouTube comment.
Despite having a track actually titled “Interlude” that leads into a regrettable song called “Hope” – which leans heavily on extremely poor rap verses before giving way to a cookie-cutter chorus – there’s another song called “Tides Change” immediately after that song that itself a pointless minute-long interlude. That’s not such a major complaint in the grand scheme of things though; merely an oddity and more likely than not just a way to extend the tracklist from 10 songs to 12.
If all of this sounds extremely negative it is because it has been. However, it is notable to emphasize that the flaws in Different Animals only will seem egregious to listeners who are paying attention to what they are hearing. Perhaps that sounds odd, but really the songs by and large are musically adequate. The aforementioned rhythmic section is tight, if unmemorable, and the performance by newcomer Myke Terry is quite good! If anything Volumes are still dragged down by their terrible lyrics and seeming inability to write instrumentally compelling songs that go beyond rote syncopated repetition. The desire for crossover mainstream appeal is extremely evident from “Finite” to “Feels Good” and “Pieces” (among others) and Volumes use cheesy EDM risers that would not be out of place in a Zumba class prior to generic hardcore breakdowns, but the simple vocal melodies are alright on the ears.
On their third album it seems as though Volumes have been able to craft what is – after revisiting Via and No Sleep – their best collection of songs yet. Unfortunately, that only elevates their output from poor to mediocre. The brief run time of 35 minutes makes this an easy album to return to for repeat listens but after hearing it once or twice it would be difficult to imagine anybody but the most fervent fan of open chugging and head bobbing to cheesy stutter effect skramz being drawn back to it. Different Animals? Sure, but not different enough.