12th May 2017 - IAV Records
02. Misery Is Only Company
04. The Fragile Serene
05. To The Riverside
06. Ghost Mile
07. What A Wonderful Day
09. This Gentle Earth (1981)
10. As The City Takes The Night
We’ve almost certainly mentioned it before, but Australia has a real knack for progressive metal. Maybe it’s something to do with the eucalyptus. From Ne Obliviscaris to Karnivool, via the likes of Circles, Plini and Dead Letter Circus, wherever your tastes may sit on the broad proggy spectrum, there’s going to be a top notch Aussie band ready to meet your needs. Not bad going for a small population mostly clustered in five spots on a big hot rock, a couple of hours flight from each other.
Voyager have been a feature of this Australian prog-metal landscape since 1999, with their international recognition levels being increased by 2014′s V , and now they’re back again with sixth album Ghost Mile.
Voyager have never been especially coy about their pop influences, but Ghost Mile sees them fully embraced. Certainly, those looking for the darkest thoughts of tortured souls would be wise to continue onwards in their search, because the band are clearly in a very good mood indeed.
With the prog reigned in and the pop dialled up, Ghost Mile is punchy, upbeat and anthemic. There’s also a lightly dreamy vibe permeating throughout the album, making it feel like a bit of a cross-pollination between Devin Townsend and Fair To Midland.
The ten songs are carefully sculpted, mostly falling between four and five minutes in length, and largely free from chaff. Even guitar solos appear in a minority of tracks. “What A Wonderful Day” is a literal three-minute pop song, with the eighties New Romantics influence that can be felt throughout Ghost Mile in its strongest concentration and, surprisingly, one of the heaviest moments and a rare deployment of harsh vocals.
With the guitars of Scott Kay and Simone Dow being more restrained, it is vocalist Daniel Estrin who provides the majority of the theatrics. Often running through filters that give his voice an otherworldly feel, they also have a slightly darker twist that help to prevent Ghost Mile from becoming an all-out cheesefest.
The album is bookended by “Ascension” and “As The City Takes The Night“, two of the standout tracks of sleek and shiny prog-metal, with the latter carrying a TesseracT vibe. Short interludes “To The Riverside” and “This Gentle Earth” dispense with the guitars almost entirely, whereas Ghost Mile‘s title track takes a surprising diversion into Strapping Young Lad-esque blastbeat territory in its coda.
In these turbulent times, Ghost Mile shines out as a beacon of pure and relatively uncomplicated joy. There is a maturity to Voyager’s songwriting that steers them clear of wide-eyed and naive idealism, or saccharine motivational poster sentimentality. Instead, in Ghost Mile Voyager have delivered a genuinely sunny, feel-good album just in time for summer. Well, summer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway.