The T 666
A very nice debut album.
VOTUM's first album has a few of the problems typical of debuts: the sound is still not perfect, the music is still a little bit derivative, and, instrumentally, there are a few issues that have to be fixed. But in general, "Time Must Have a Stop" is a very pleasant experience.
VOTUM's sound owes a lot to another progressive-metal band from Poland: RIVERSIDE. As with the latter, the former employs techniques learned from the psychedelic masters of the 70's and fuses them with elements of heavy metal, art-rock and, at times, gothic rock. But there are differences: RIVERSIDE is even darker, the music is even less optimistic, whereas VOTUM still manages to sneak a ray of light through the somber soundscapes. VOTUM plays a much more "metal" style of progressive-metal, and they don't dwell as much in psychedelic passages as their Polish peers.
Another huge influence in VOTUM's music is undoubtedly PINK FLOYD, whose art is present in most every band that plays dark psychedelic rock or metal today, as is the case in another one of VOTUM's references, PORCUPINE TREE. The spacey, atmospheric, narcotic mood of Steven Wilson's music never leaves the background of this Polish band's paintings. The vocals appear to have been molded following the English's musician example. On the metal side of things, besides the usual suspects, a band we're constantly reminded of while listening to "Time Must Have a Stop" is OPETH. There's almost zero growling or death-riffs here, but the dark atmospheres and many of Mikael Akerfeldt's musical tricks are easy to be found in this debut album. VOTUM mixes all these influences in a coherent new sound that will appeal both to the progmetal fan and to the art-rock aficionado.
As I said earlier, there are a few glitches here and there. The recording is clear but the drums sound very cardboard-ish, and the drummer himself gives quite a weak performance. His fills usually sound cut, sloppy, incomplete, at times he's on the verge of destroying the flow of the music with his almost- inept cascades that have no creativity behind them. At least he's good at keeping a steady rhythm, but he seriously has to work in his fills if VOTUM plans to go further than Poland's border with him sitting on the drum seat. The rest of the musicians fare pretty well, especially both guitarists. The vocals are OK, if not brilliant.
The songs are simple yet never too-accessible. Their structures are rather normal but never uninspired. The music is very melodic and there are a few moments of pure beauty throughout the album. The atmospheres that VOTUM is able to create are very unique, and are one of the best features in this album. The melodies are good and at times memorable.
All in all, a very good debut album, worthy of much commendation. If VOTUM works their problems out for their next release, they could reach the highest level. Right now, I'm happy to give this opus 3.5 stars.