Voices – Dead Emotion (and Feelings)

Thursday, 31st May 2018

Akercocke’s well-received reunion last year would appear to put Voices — the band featuring Akercocke members David Gray (drums), Sam Loynes (guitar) and Peter Benjamin (vocals, guitar) with Dan Abela (bass)— on the backburner. The much-ballyhooed Brits and their engulfing avant-garde cinescapes are a certifiably stand-alone operation. So is Voices, who, to the surprise of many metallic punters, released their third album, Frightened, this May via Candlelight/Spinefarm. If Akercocke stalks then charms its prey with intellect and innuendo, then Voices does the whole song and dance before even remotely getting to the point. Indeed, this is thinking man’s extreme metal, draped with the industrial touches of Killing Joke going at it mercilessly with black and death metal underpinnings. It’s not an easy go, nor should it be, something that guitarist Sam Loynes shared during this quick email chat:

Dead Rhetoric: London was such a quick (and excellent) follow-up to From the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain. Why the four-year delay? Did Candlelight’s deal with Spinefarm have anything to do with it?

Sam Loynes: Absolutely not. In fact, the label and other external factors like that really don’t come into play. The band experienced a creative eruption once we actually decided to form Voices. I think this was due to a genuine yearning to create after a fairly quiet time that preceded. After London, we simply needed to collect our thoughts and understand what we could do next. We did not even know whether we’d continue at that point.

Dead Rhetoric: Along the lines, did Akercocke’s reformation play a role?

Loynes: In a way, it did, yes. But it’s as prosaic as the fact that time was less freely available due to Akercocke sessions. But, we have since worked a way to ensure all the respective projects of darkness reach the surface.

Dead Rhetoric: Obviously, the wait, for many, was worth – you quickly sold out of vinyl stock of the album. In a way, does that validate what you’re doing, let alone the wait?

Loynes: Well we sold out with some distributors and it seems that people are really yearning to get their hands on this record. We are genuinely humbled by this. We don’t seek validation. However, the notion that people are motivated to endure our melancholic music is truly an awesome feeling.

Dead Rhetoric: Frightened, to these ears, is an unsettling, but really engaging and memorable release. You make regular left-turns but always come back to a spot where there’s something to take away from each song. What was the thought process behind the songs? Is it an “anything goes” approach?

Loynes: It is always ‘anything goes’ with us. This is something we aim for within all our various projects. With Frightened this was the first time we all had a desire to create genuine songs. Songs that can stand alone. Singles and hits. We have exhausted the more conceptual side of things. Now we are residing more within abstraction, coasting on emotion.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you think this album all but confirms Voices is a genre-less band? (You’re metal, obviously.)

Loynes: We don’t mind if people want to categorize us in any way they see fit. But we have certainly never sort to fit into any parameters pertaining to genres. We just channel the vibe of our musical essence.

Dead Rhetoric: How does Voices write? Does the entire band get involved?

Loynes: Absolutely. We are all involved in the writing process. With Frightened we had much more of a methodical approach, thinking in depth about song structure and being as concise as possible. This is in opposition to London which was born out of improvisation and we wanted the whole unabridged representation of these writing sessions.

Dead Rhetoric: “IWSYA” is the song that resonates the most – what’s the story behind its creation?

Loynes: You would have to ask the enigmatic Peter Benjamin about that. It’s his song.

Dead Rhetoric: Are you okay with Voices being a band that people may not “get” right away?

Loynes: Without question. It’s challenging music. We know and understand this. In fact, I find it hard to listen to a lot of our material these days. Frightened I’m relieved to say is an album I can stick on and really get on its wavelength. The previous two records are such genuinely outpourings of anguish that I haven’t got the stomach for it anymore.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the live show approach going to be?

Loynes: We are presenting an entirely different beast. We have Matthew Adnett on board playing guitar rather than Pete who is just performing vocals now. It’s already made a huge difference and for the better. These new songs have a wealth of potential within a live context. So, come along and see for yourself!

Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on your agenda for the rest of the year?

Loynes: More visualizations, suitable exhibitions and diving deeper into the sonic realm we have created.

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