It has been three years since Volumes released their debut album Via and left us waiting to see what they could accomplish and improve upon in the time between records. Here we are with their sophomore album, No Sleep, which may just be a testament to how hard this band seems to work, jumping from tour to tour and never staying in one place for too long. It also could be a way to tell us that they have been working hard to craft this album for their fans, thinking of new ways to go about doing things and how to improve upon what is already working. After all, the only constant is change. Things have definitely changed, but are they for better or worse?
No Sleep shows that Volumes have musically matured. The electronic backgrounds sound much more developed, the clean vocals have improved greatly as well as becoming more prominent this time around, and the interludes are much more meaningful and appear less frequently. These improvements are all assisted by the excellent production crafted by guitarist Diego Farias and Periphery mastermind Misha Mansoor, which ditches the thin sound from Via in lieu of a much meatier sound.
The band has also learned to compartmentalize and make the most of the space they have. Tracks like ‘Up All Night’, ‘Across the Bed’, which has ex-Periphery vocalist Casey Sabol handling cleans, and ‘Erased’ are perfect examples of this, as they showcase both the hard-hitting and light elements of the group and shows them coalescing with great success. The band has always had a great sense of melody, and they’re really letting it shine through on this album. The interlude after ‘Erased’, entitled ‘Better Half’, is one of the most stunning pieces of melodic work Volumes has done to date. Not to fear, though. The heavy chugs do not take a backseat to the lighter sounds. On the contrary, some of Volumes hardest-hitting moments come in the form of tracks like ‘The Mixture’, ‘91367′ and ‘Neon Eyes’. These heavy moments are further accentuated by the bands dual vocalist dynamic.
Michael Barr and Gus Farias’ vocal exchanges are one of the most interesting aspects of Volumes. They should be the leading example for the back and forth dynamic that dual vocalists should have. It helps tremendously that they’re both inspired by rappers, because they know a thing or two about flow and interaction and that’s obvious in how they just ride the grooves vocally and their operation as a duo. One does not do better than the other, they both simply do what they do. Although, they can be a little too straightforward lyrically, and that’s one of the records major downfalls.
‘Vahle’ is a case where it does works because they are so open about the incident of their friend James’ automobile accident and it really pulls you in. They are not a band to pull punches or make thinly veiled statements. However, on songs like ‘91367’ and ‘Pistol-Play’ the honesty of the lyrics detracts from the moments in the music because the language is jarring and does not seem to fit the environments they have created sonically.
No Sleep is an improvement in every sonic aspect that Volumes has presented thus far, but at times is cheapened by the content of the lyrics. The songs are enjoyable, but it would be the icing on the cake if they had that extra push to make them great.
Volumes – No Sleep gets…