Wednesday, September 19, 2018

VOLA - Applause Of A Distant Crowd

Rating: RRRR
Label: Mascot 2018
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Sweet Zombie Jesus!! Applause of a Distant Crowd by VOLA, no doubt the melodic "Prog" rollercoaster ride of the year!! Straight to the point. They're painting a vivid picture of alluring melodies and playful arrangements. Using big eclectic brushes and open minded musicians, the Danes explore the soundscapes and boundaries (in)between genres such as Prog Rock, Poppy AOR, EMO, Goth, and soft Electronica/Industrial Metal. Their genre-defying obsession and almost cinematic sound, definitely the strength of the album. No growls and not quite as heavy as previous attempts at world domination, you could say it's VOLA's "Images and Words" (Dream Theater).

In fact. The genius idea of mixing melancholy, happy-poppy keyboards, crystal clear vocals, and progressive elements, could only be described as the Scandinavian concept. Lyric-wise, it's all about light and darkness, sweet and sour, or simply put the struggle known as life of the common man and woman. The title track "Applause Of A Distant Crowd" is a metaphor derived from a relationship with social media (nah, it can't be facebook?), and how we pretend to have perfect lives and invisible friends from all over the world. Asger Mygind (vocals/guitar) says and I quote: 'We spend a lot of time trying to present ourselves in a flattering light in the pursuit of continuous applause, even if it’s a distant applause from those you may not connect with away from the screens'.

Kicking off with "We Are Thin Air", it's grand, emotional prog rock, where the episodes of soothing melancholy is merely out shined by its catchiness and marvelous keyboards. "Ghosts", keyboards 'ala rave, only on steroids and simplicity at its best really. The story is morbid and speak about the fear of dying and eventually... death. "Smart Friend", heavier, moodier, darker, yet ever so perky and fun. "Ruby Pool", its overall structure and idea might just have you thinking about Seventh Wonder (The Great Escape) and One Republic. The grand piano at the centre of attention. You can apply the same basic concept on the next following tracks, "Alien Shivers" and "Vertigo". The return of the crunchy guitar work, "Still" and "Whaler", the latter being the headbanging moment on the album. The closing track, "Green Screen Mother", the soft, laidback, piano/keys outro.

Final verdict: Definitely not just "Prog-Rock". It's hybrid stadium rock and you can pick up bits and pieces of everything from Dream Theater/Seventh Wonder, to Amaranthe, One Republic, and Nine Inch Nails. Highly Recommended.

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