Warforged – I: Voice (The Artisan Era)

Sunday, 5th May 2019
Rating: 9/10

In its earliest incarnations, death metal was a blunt tool for aggression and annihilation. We’ve all seen it grow into somewhat more unexpected terrain as it evolved, and now Chicago’s Warforged bring it into yet a different landscape than it’s traditionally known for. Capitalizing on the strength of their EP Essence of the Land, I: Voice takes some further steps into a murky swamp of isolation, despair, and contemplation.

I: Voice is not a sit down and listen to a few tracks type of album. In that sense, it becomes a more complicated beast with its 73-minute runtime. This is an album that really needs to be sat down with and listened with your full attention to really get maximum enjoyment from it. Why? Songs flow into each other and weave into the overall story concept that fuels the album. Acoustic passages merge into a torrent of blackened blasts, and intense death metal riffage sits alongside more progressive melodies and sweeping piano arrangements. In short, there’s a lot to consume across the board at any given moment. For those seeking The Artisan Era’s benchmark for extremity on the technical side of things, it does exist and will throttle you when it’s called for, but there’s plenty of breaks along the way to ensure that you aren’t just getting chaotic tempos and riffs tossed in your face.

The album’s greatest achievement is what was alluded to already – the sensations of dread, isolation, and horror as the album seeps its way into your ears. There’s something eerie and slightly unsettling (just like the EP but clearly augmented) in the way that they place parts of the music together. “Voice” pounds the listener with some murky rasps and terrifying atmosphere only to stop on a dime and inject a few moments of melody/hope only to take it away and further suffocate the listener. But just at the moment that you drown in the well of despair, they bring in some catchy/heavy grooves to bring you back with “Eat Them While They Sleep.” It’s the masterful use of different songwriting cues that keep you engaged from start to finish – it goes in different directions but only to serve the overall narrative.

I: Voice is an immersive listen that lends emotions and feelings not normally associated with the death metal genre. There’s a unique atmosphere that propels the album from beginning to end that may not be initially inviting due to its density, but becomes more rewarding with each successive listen. Warforged have created a riveting piece of music that extreme metal fans should seek out and experience for themselves.

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