Album: I: Voice
Label: The Artisan Era
Genre: Blackened Progressive Death Metal
Country: United States
Release Date: May 10th, 2019
There are countless bands that are coming from nowhere dropping beyond incredible debut albums, such as Hath dropping their debut, Of Rot and Ruin for example. Warforged is here to blow minds with their debut record. I: Voice will be Warforged’s debut full length and it will be an album that will stand beside the greats in both the death and progressive metal realms such as The Sound of Perseverance and Symbolic (Death), Ghost Reveries (Opeth), and Quiet World (Native Construct) just to name a few. It always makes me chuckle when I hear people say that modern music (or metal nowadays) is dead or lacking in innovation and true musicianship; the people who make said claims are clearly not even trying to look at all. There are none so blind as those who will not see. I: Voice is the best death metal record you will hear this year and it is without a doubt up there among the best death and progressive metal records that have been released over the past couple decades. Warforged are creating a new death and progressive metal legacy with I: Voice.
Warforged’s debut record draws from many influences and genres to create an amalgam that is dastardly heavy as it is beyond beautiful in each and every song. At its core, this is a progressive death metal album infused with a blackened tinge but that is just merely scratching the surface. For example, there will be times on this record where you’ll be bombarded with blast beats and bone-chilling screams and suddenly, an M. Night Shamalyan plot twist will hit and you’re suddenly in the middle of a jazzy interlude with a brief flute solo only to return back to pure chaos. On paper it just sounds like a bunch of bad and uncompatible ideas blended together, but the execution is absolutely stellar and captivating. At face value, I: Voice is over-saturated with the different styles and passages, but this record is as cohesive as a record could ever be. Nothing sounds out of place or forced. Every passage, every rest, every note is meant to be exactly as it is; absolutely perfect. I will admit that there are a few places in which the songs immediately transition from incredibly fast and dissonant riffs to the jazzy, mellow piano as heard several times in the closing track, The Color of My Memory. It just sounds odd and disorienting at first, but it is worth mentioning that those sharp and sudden changes in the tempo and style of the music are part of the plan all along. Warforged have zero interest in writing predictable music that is governed by rules and expectations; they’re without a doubt pushing metal and music as a whole into a whole new dimension.
The album starts off with a brief moment of guitar feedback only to be cut off and lead into a slow, atmospheric piano intro and once the song kicks in, you just know you’re in for a sweet ride. We’ve Been Here Before, the opening track, is one of the more traditional death metal songs on the album, and it even has a Dream Theater-esque keyboard solo in the middle of the track. There are many of these unexpected moments throughout the album that remind me of Rivers of Nihil’s most recent record, Where Owls Know My Name. The random saxophone passages and solos on that album fit quite well with the music itself, even though it sounded only slightly gimmicky at first. None of the weird passages that you hear on this album feel gimmicky or out of place, they all serve their purpose in contributing to how progressive this album really is. There are plenty of slow piano breaks and solos as found on the opening track, Beneath the Forest Floor, Cellar, Willow, and Old Friend to name a few. Many of those piano breaks are often accompanied with some acoustic guitar, melodic and jazzy guitar leads, soft flute, synthesizer, and/or thumping bass for example. With a runtime of nearly an hour and fifteen minutes, this is a really long album and the chilling vocals can be quite exhausting at times, but those slow breaks and passages give the listener plenty of time to catch their breath before the absolutely devastating vocals, riffs, and blast beats return to pummel your ears. Listening to this album is like running a marathon and doing all out sprints every few miles as you run. This album would not be as great as it is without those unorthodox slow breaks in each song otherwise it would leave the listener completely exhausted. Warforged go absolutely hard when they need to but they know when take a step back and drown the listener in the bleak and depressing soundscapes.
Outside of all the slow instrumental jazzy passages, Warforged prove just how heavy they can go. There are so many moments on this album that just blow my mind with how heavy and creative the band prove to be. Cellar remains one of the stand-out tracks on this record, starting off super heavy with blistering riffs and monstrous vocals. During that ferocious opening of Cellar, you cannot help but focus your attention to the ridiculously clear bass lines while the melodic leads and the distorted riffs lead the song.
I absolutely adore the pristine mix on this record as I can hear every single detail crisp and clear. As instrumental hell is unleashing, you can still clearly hear the piano bouncing away on bass notes and it is satisfying to listen to. Once Cellar transitions to the slow acoustic arpeggios accompanied by the piano and the flute, you cannot help but shut your eyes, relax, and let the music take you away. The electric guitars slowly and quietly fade back in and suddenly you’re six feet deep in the middle of this chaotic, Vildhjarta-esque massacre of a breakdown. It is like you just woke up from a deep and relaxing sleep only to be found right in the middle of absolute chaos. There are no shortages of surprises or memorable parts throughout the length of this record, that is guaranteed. You have the terrifying wailing vocals that resemble the sound of a passing TIE Fighter from Star Wars on Voice, the jazz lounge-y intro to Old Friend, and the incredibly deep and pounding bass lines that at first sounded like a fading heartbeat on Willow. There are so many breathtaking moments, found in both the dark ambient soundscapes and also in the jagged riffs, hellish vocals, and unrelenting and masterful drumming. There are so many musical ideas and transitions between genres and styles that I would only bore you trying to list everything. This is something you definitely need to experience for yourself.
I do not want to go into too much depth on the other songs as done on Cellar as I’d rather let you experience how unique and well-written these songs are. I will say that there is a myriad of guest musicians featured all over this album. There are plenty of guest vocals, guitar riffs, and solos featuring Christian Münzner (Alkaloid, ex-Obscura), Poh Hock (Native Construct, Replacire), Dan Gargiulo (Artificial Brain, Revocation), Will Smith (Artificial Brain), Stevie Boiser (Tethys, Equipose), and Craig Bruenger (Ahtme) on the upright bass just to name a few. It is also worth mentioning that Navene Koperweis from Entheos even features on this album but not as a drummer, but on guitar. Again, this record is full of the unexpected. On top of already being a progressive death metal powerhouse of a record, there are so many influences from different musicians, and you can hear all the different personalities and musical styles as a result of all these guest musicians collaborating together to create an album that is so unsettling and just pure evil sounding. The guitar riffs and solos are insanely well written and technical; that is what should be expected with a guest lineup as hectic and ridiculous (in a good way obviously) as it is. Apparently, this record is five years in the making and it is beyond obvious that a lot of time, hard work, and love was invested into crafting all the little intricacies that make up the melancholic masterpiece that is I: Voice.
I: Voice is a schizophrenic masterpiece of a record. It is a very horrific, undoubtedly sinister, and nightmarish record to say the least. Each song is so well composed and contains so many different passages that each song could be a short record on its own. The bleak and mellow atmospheric aspects found all over this record are beyond breathtaking and stellar and provide a much-needed break from the monstrously heavy and dense passages. This is one of the most unpredictable records I have ever listened to, and I was nothing but amazed with each and every playthrough. Although I tried my best, no combination of words can express how well written, how well executed, and how stunning I: Voice is.
- We’ve Been Here Before
- Beneath the Forest Floor
- Nightfall Came
- Eat Them While They Sleep
- Old Friend
- The Color of My Memory
Total Playing Time: 1:13:01