When I reviewed Wings Denied‘s debut album, Mirrors For a Prince, I was a bit underwhelmed. On the face of it, this was an album I should enjoyed much more. It had clean vocals with plenty of punch, interesting ideas and an overall pleasing vibe. However, something about it just didn’t click for me and I expounded on what that was in my review. However, I also closed it off by saying that we would keep our ears open for their next release, as the basic foundations of a great release were there, just unrealised. A month and a half ago, the band released Voyager and I was nowhere to be found. I could blame a few people but why waste time on such irrelevant things?
I’m here today to fix the mistake of my silence and tell you that Voyager is everything that I wanted the previous release to be. Wings Denied have really stepped up their game, bringing polish and cohesion to the already powerful formula of their song writing and composition. This increase in flow and direction is powered by an overall heavier approach to the guitar riffs, an approach which keeps the album churning forward consistently. You can hear that right off the bat, with the first track. “Trembling Creature” begins with a loud, all-encompassing riff that announces the album with an immediate aggression. It makes the relatively quieter parts at the end of the first verse all the more powerful.
Luka Kerecin’s vocals are also much more robust. Whether in production or in long hours of practice, the vocals are simply more present, less tapering off above the rest of the music. “Sultans of Spin” is perhaps the best example of this. It’s one of their catchiest tracks but it also features one of the better vocal performances we’ve heard from Kerecin. Whether dredging his tenor lows or soaring as high as he can go, his vocals are convincing and impactful. The previous albums saw him a bit scattered and clinging furiously to a safe zone. Here, he sheds his creature comforts for an emotional and technically accurate performance.
Finally, the composition on this album is also much more ambitious. Closing track “Traveler’s Curse” for example, is an intricate track that keeps its own head despite being so complex. Unlike the closing track on Mirrors For a Prince which lost steam around the mid-way point, “Traveler’s Curse” stays fresh throughout. That might be the best thing to say about the entire album; it starts fresh and it stays fresh, unrestrained by much of the frills that were present on its predecessor. I wouldn’t say that Voyager is a stripped down version of Wings Denied but it’s definitely a more direct and focused one. And that’s great! The promise of the band is finally showing beneath a dedicated, polishing hand.