Voyager are a band I’ve heard a lot of, but nothing from. All I knew before listening to this was they’ve played at ProgPower a couple of times, have a pretty cool brand of melodic/symphonic/progressive/whatever metal going, and all of their albums have a capital V in their titles somewhere. Obviously, that’s not a good load of background knowledge to carry with you into battle, so I began my listen of Voyager’s new album The Meaning of I with a fairly clean slate. To my disdain, not much of the above was true, at least initially. Still no V’s in the title…
First, let me get out of the way my number one gripe: the guitars don’t do a heck of a lot on this album. Yes, there’s an obligatory solo here and a melodic lead there, but there’s really nothing to speak of in the riffs department. There were maybe two riffs that stood out to me: one in the title track, and one in “Are You Shaded?” Other than that, it’s just this stupid one-string, stop-go stuff.
Needless to say, this made me quite suspicious. It sounded like someone had hooked me up with a demo, or a channel was missing, or some other technical issue. There was no way the sound could be this…thin! And slowly, after each track of repetitive half-riffs and monotonous vocals, the real culprit made itself more and more known: THE MIX! Of course! There wasn’t something missing; that something (the keyboards) was just really, really, really far back in the mix. Everything sounds fine, it’s just mixed really poorly. Folks, this is what happens when you have a keyboard- and vocal-centric sound and it isn’t mixed right! It simply doesn’t translate like it should, and everything that isn’t very interesting will get exposed as such.
With this little annoyance accounted for, it’s a little easier to enjoy The Meaning of I. Although a lot of the songs take forever to build up, there are some pretty enjoyable climaxes (heh) on this album, namely on the tracks “She Takes Me (Into the Morning Light)” and “Seize the Day”. The problem is, the music is kinda boring until you get to those points. Again, lack of serious riffing is an issue, as are the vocals; they’re technically pretty good, but they rarely stray out of the middle range, and of course being backed by basically nothing during the verses can only make a vocalist sound worse. To me, the only song that’s really consistent all the way through is the upbeat “Iron Dream,” ironically dedicated to the late Peter Steele (R.I.P.). Other than that, many of the tracks are wishy-washy, but that may depend on your tolerance of this type of metal. I don’t want to call it “soft,” it’s just…easy-listening, maybe? That would be 110% okay, if the album was able to hold my attention for more than 4 or 5 tracks at a time.
I’m not saying that The Meaning of I isn’t an enjoyable album, because I can certainly see how this would appeal to you prog/power peeps out there. There just isn’t enough substance on it to make a lasting impression. Good musicianship and smooth compositions don’t go quite far enough to overcome a bad production job and a lack of any real attitude or “stuff,” and as such The Meaning of I isn’t much more than a middling release.