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Vola Witness album cover
3.76 | 68 ratings | 5 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2021

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Straight Lines (4:22)
2. Head Mounted Sideways (5:34)
3. 24 Light-Years (4:32)
4. These Black Claws (5:52)
5. Freak (4:50)
6. Napalm (4:58)
7. Future Bird (4:35)
8. Stone Leader Falling Down (4:23)
9. Inside Your Fur (5:00)

Total Time 44:06

Line-up / Musicians

- Asger Mygind / lead vocals, guitar
- Martin Werner / keyboards
- Nicolai Mogensen / bass
- Adam Janzi / drums

- Shahmen / vocals (4)

Releases information

CD Mascot Records - M76392 (2021, Netherlands)
LP Mascot Records - M76391 (2021, Netherlands)
Digital album

Release date May 21, 2021

Thanks to TCat for the addition
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VOLA Witness ratings distribution

(68 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

VOLA Witness reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by nick_h_nz
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

In February 2015, Danish band VOLA released their debut album, Inmazes. It so enamoured the admin of a Facebook prog page I followed that he posted about the band for weeks on end, urging everyone to give Inmazes a listen. The album was self-released and 'Name Your Price' on Bandcamp. I succumbed in April, but it was immediately clear I was no fool. Inmazes was an incredible slab of sound, playing both beauty and the beast. Melodic Meshuggah? Djent Depeche Mode? It came as no surprise when it was picked up by a record label and re-released the following year. I'm not one of those people who get upset when a band finds success, and I really enjoyed seeing the deserved attention VOLA was starting to get. Fast forward a couple of years, and there was quite a buzz, before the release of VOLA's second album, Applause of a Distant Crowd. This album seemed to be quite a Marmite album for many, different enough from the debut, that people seemed to love it or hate it.

One of the greatest changes in VOLA between the two albums wasn't the sound, per se, so much as who was making it. The band had a change of drummer, with Adam Janzi taking over the sticks from Felix Ewert. His presence was perhaps understated due to what some people considered the lightweight nature of Applause of a Distant Crowd compared with Inmazes. Personally, I'd go with uplifting, rather than lightweight, Applause? often being unabashedly upbeat. Regardless, it meant a direct comparison of drumming styles wasn't as simple as it might otherwise have been, but to my ears, Janzi was a beast. You can't djent without technical polyrhythms, and I loved what I heard from him - but with almost Gilmour-esque guitars at times, along with the expected massive choruses and vast synth soundscapes, it felt like Janzi never quite had the chance to really show his chops.

And so we reach 2021, and third album Witness, which quite simply blows away everything that came before. Before its release, VOLA had promised a return to a heavier sound, but Witness actually takes the best aspects of both previous albums and blends them together in a spectacular burst of synergy. Witness is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts, and will be a very hard album for VOLA to follow. Any thoughts that the band might have lost its edge, as some claimed after the release of Applause? are swiftly evaporated when the bass and drums kick in ? and this is definitely the album where Janzi gets to show his chops and prove he is the best drummer VOLA has had. Nicolai Mogensen's thick bass riffs are mean as „&@#. But as he has been from the start, the star of the show is the beautiful melodious voice of Asger Mygind. He reminds me a little of Arnór Dan (of Agent Fresco) or Einar Solberg (of Leprous), but doesn't really sound like either. His vocals soar over the music, bringing a levity, no matter how dark and heavy it gets.

The only other original member of VOLA is keyboard player Martin Werner, and it's the atmospheres he creates that really make VOLA something different. No matter how wonderful Mygrind's vocals are, no matter how chunky Mogensen's bass is, no matter what a monster Janzi is, VOLA would lose a lot of their magic without the keys. With hard hitting and intricate drumming taking off in odd signatures, and the bass and guitar driving the songs forward in syncopated strikes, it is largely up to Werner to carry the melody, often taking the lead while the guitar djents along with the drum and bass (Mygind again, who has been the sole guitarist in the band since 2012). After a heavy hitting one two punch from Straight Lines and Head Mounted Sideways, there is a slight reprieve with 24 Light-Years.

The next track, These Black Claws, is going to be the one everyone talks about. It's a collaboration with Dutch hip hop duo Shahmen. There has always been an electronic aspect to VOLA's sound, and honestly for me this isn't too greatly different. I expect that many may not find this collaboration to their taste, but I love it, and it's easily one of my favourite songs on the album. The hip hop sounds mesh easily with the progressive djent, and it works better than any Korn-style nu-metal (who never managed to combine hip hop and metal as well as VOLA and Shahmen have here). I mentioned Depeche Mode earlier, and that's because when I first heard Inmazes Depeche Mode was the first band that came to my mind. But, apart from the hip hop, These Black Claws is probably the closest they've come to sounding like Depeche Mode ? or, at the very least Ulver in Assassination mode.

Changing direction completely, Freak is a beautifully soundscaped ballad. It's pure pop and it's gorgeous ? and it surprises me how much I love it. Napalm, despite the title, begins as if it is going to be more of the same ? before turning and churning into a song that wouldn't be out of place on Applause of a Distant Crowd. If you weren't a fan of that album, you probably won't be such a fan of this song, but if you were, it's another great wee tune. Future Bird is heavier, but still has an Applause? vibe. What these two tracks do, though, is really show how far VOLA have progressed in the mastery of their sound. Everything about Napalm and, especially, Future Bird is richer and fuller than the previous albums. The many layers of sound are more nuanced and balanced. The album ends as it began with two heavier songs. Everything about the album is spot on: the composition, the performance, the production, the sequencing. As I said earlier, Witness blows away everything that came before. Only one question remains: How will VOLA ever follow this?

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Denmark's current national prog treasure returns with their third album since 2014.

1. "Straight Lines" (4:22) after an awesome opening, the song develops like a heavier BROTHER APE tune until 1:45 when there is an interesting turn before settling back into a variation of the opening rhythm for the second verse and chorus. Some cool little twists in the second half keep it lively and interesting. We're off to a good start! My first top three song. (8.75/10)

2. "Head Mounted Sideways" (5:34) the djenty bass and guitars are amped up for this one--a kind of industrial metal sound. Synths and synthesized vocal continue the industrial future vibe before the "normal" voices and sounds appear for the chorus. As with the previous song, there are some very cool and interesting twists and turns-- including a CURT SMITH-like vocal in the hushed middle and the thick synth-chords used for the instrumental solo section after the second chorus--and then the long-sustained growl-scream in the first half of the fifth minute. Great ending. Excellent song. A top three song for me. (9/10)

3. "24 Light-Years" (4:32) opens with heavily treated chords of glass/toy piano-sounding percussives before tom-tom rhythm is established with synth for Asger to sing in a very sensitive, airy voice. Very different from the other songs on the album--especially with its spacey, non-djenty foundation. Even when the djenty sounds do enter--in the third minute--they're controlled to take up less space. Interesting. (8.5/10)

4. "These Black Claws" (5:52) another odd opening with synth riffs and drum machine leading the way for the first sparsely populated 20 seconds. Then it seems as if all hell breaks loose as a wall of djent chords fills the soundscape. But then, surprise, the djent stops and we return to the odd, untuned synth motif of the opening over which Asger sings--until rapper Shahmen adds his shtick. Creative but weird. I'm not convinced that this works. Even after repeated listens--as I get used to the weirdness--I'm not finding myself anymore enamored (or repelled)-- though I have found myself really enjoying the heaviness of the final 90 seconds. (8.5/10)

5. "Freak" (4:50) backing away from heaviness, the band steps back into a kind of modern TEARS FOR FEARS sound for this one. Perhaps a little mores spacious and simplistic than a Tears song, the melodies are allowed to win out on all levels here. Nice little Steven Wilson feel during the guitar solo. A pleasant, innocuous song that, unfortunately, does nothing great for me. Would that I hear the lyrics. (8.5/10)

6. "Napalm" (4:58) great bass lines and keyboard play. Not my favorite vocal--and definitely not a great chorus-- which is then repeated ad nauseum. (8.5/10)

7. "Future Bird" (4:35) stripped down music-scape over which Asger sings in a sensitive voice during the first verse. The band amps up for the chorus before shutting down for a very cool little transition back to verse #2--over which Asger continues to sing in his pleasing voice. Very nice sound with some really nice touches but, ultimately, the song doesn't really go anywhere--even uses an overly-long fade over the repeating chorus to end the song. (8.75/10)

8. "Stone Leader Falling Down" (4:23) sounds like Proghma-C during the first verse. Keyboard strings drench the soundscape during the chorus. Vocal sounds like 80s Tears for Fears and/or Depeche Mode. Cool instrumental coda at the end of the third minute. (8.75/10)

9. "Inside Your Fur" (5:00) opens with music that sounds almost exactly like that of the previous--especially in the rhythm section. Love hearing Asger's voice during the quieter first verse. I love the tuned percussion interlude at the end of the third minute before returning to the amped up chorus. Great composition, top to bottom. A top three song for me. (9/10)

Total Time 44:06

I remember feeling so disappointed with the way Asger backed off on his vocal intensity--how the vocals were mixed so deeply within the weaves of many of the songs on 2018's Applause of a Distant Crowd as compared to those of their debut, Inmazes.

B-/3.5 stars; an interesting collection of sophisticated and nuanced songs. Recommended for fans of their previous albums.

Latest members reviews

3 stars There were big expectations surrounding VOLA's third full-length album earlier this year. The Danish alternative / prog rockers have been growing in popularity in prog circles since their 2015 debut Inmazes, with their 2018 follow-up Applause of a Distant Crowd receiving an even stronger response in ... (read more)

Report this review (#2654377) | Posted by lukretio | Tuesday, December 21, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Listening diary 3rd July, 2021: Vola - Witness (djent, 2021) I'm glad to see Vola carve themselves a niche in the prog metal mainstream (if such a thing exists) with this album - although the whole djent thing was played out even before their genre-bending debut came out, the other elements o ... (read more)

Report this review (#2596873) | Posted by Gallifrey | Sunday, September 26, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is VOLA! Danes who come to surf on the new progressive wave of the 2020s. A young, recent, current music, a music which will seek its musical rhythm on the 70's for the tone, for the atmosphere; which declines it by incorporating electronic keys, new-wave keys of the 80's; who mixes it all ... (read more)

Report this review (#2577028) | Posted by alainPP | Wednesday, July 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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