In Praise of “Witness” by Vola (#6 in 2021’s Top Ten)

When I listen to pop or electronic music, I usually listen for one thing both genres excel in: production quality. Say what you will about the banality of modern pop, but there is absolute no denying that it sound genuinely pleasant to listen to just sheerly on the basis of how well it’s made. Metal bands ought to be taking note, and in Vole’s case, they’re once again way ahead of the scene with “Witness”.

Vola’s brand of EDM-polished metal has no equal, and “Witness” cements Vola as one of the most original, exciting, and accessible bands in metal right now. Where their debut, “Inmazes”, leaned heavily towards djent and their sophomore release “Applause of a Distant Crowd” leaned more synth-pop, “Witness” is the happy marriage of the two, taking the best of “Inmazes” heaviness (“Head Mounted Sideways”, “Stone Leader Falling Down”) and “AoaDC”’s lushly drenched synth-scapes (“24 Light Years”, “Inside Your Fur”). The result is undeniably the band’s best work to date, both musically and audibly. Vola is confident enough in their sound and style to even begin experimenting with it, incorporating hip-hop and rap into the surprising album standout “These Black Claws”. To reiterate: nobody is doing what Vola is doing right now.

Despite being the best release Vola has done to date, one cannot help but sense the band is approaching the limits of their current formula. The album flow of “Witness” is perfectly serviceable, but the album is undeniably stacked towards the front half, with everything after “These Black Claws” being entirely shuffle-able and interchangeable. This does not mean the back half of the album is a step down in quality – “Future Bird” and “Napalm” are among two of my favorites – but Vola is far too talented to be writing albums full of isolated singles, and one can only wonder what would happen if the band were to attempt a concept album of some kind. Regardless, “Witness” solidifies that Vola is the real deal, and that the sky remains the limit for what they can do.

“Witness” by Vola is available wherever you get your music. #5 tomorrow.

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