Self-proclaimed “politically charged & socially conscious Chicago based punk rockers”, Voice of Addiction (V.o.A.), are ready to hit the road to promote their new full-length CD, “The Lost Art of Empathy”. With six official releases now and over 1,200 shows under their belt, V.o.A. is a seasoned band that has managed to keep their edge. In fact, the edge may be sharper than ever, and “The Lost Art of Empathy” is ready to pierce the airwaves.
The first thing to notice about the CD is the production quality. With interesting rhythms, melodies, and harmonies throughout, Mr. Precision at Bombshelter Recording Studio has managed to capture every note with clarity and full-bodied flavor. Produced by V.o.A., Mr. Precision, and Wrecking Ball Production, the CD has a visually striking cover, which depicts the tone of the songs contained within, and includes a six-panel eco jacket with lyrics.
As for the songs themselves, they are everything a (punk) rock fan could ask for – and more. With Dennis Tynan on drums, Jake Smith on guitar and backup vocals, Ian Tomele on bass, vocals, and acoustic guitar, and Luke Ostojic providing backup vocal support, V.o.A. provides us with twelve songs of mind opening political and social exploration. As primary songwriter Ian Tomele has expressed in the past, the band’s goal is to put difficult topics out on the table. It’s not that they want to tell people what to think, but just get them thinking.
The songs all have a great story telling quality, and Ian’s vocal delivery is both diverse and in your face. From the story of the struggles living in the rustbelt, to the highs and lows of traveling across the country as a touring band, songs one through twelve carry some common themes, while still managing to give us something different with each and every track.
Aside from the gritty, versatile vocal delivery, Ian also supplies the classic thunderous punk rock bass tone that is a staple of the genre. On guitar, Jake graces us with an array of interesting chord choices and helps create the mood with a collection of unique melodies. With his precise, heavy hitting drum technique, Dennis helps generate the energy and keeps things hurtling along until the final track, which is an acoustic offering performed by Ian on guitar and vox. Some of the guitar work on the album creates a kind of dissonance, but when the next section comes along and everything gets locked backed together, the tension is relieved and a wall of heavy aggressiveness takes over, providing an almost thrash like quality at times.
It’s not easy for a full-length CD to hold someone’s attention all the way through on the first listening, but “The Lost Art of Empathy” has managed to do just that.
After listening through a few times, here are some notes on each of the tracks:
Starts with some slower raspy chords with a slight melancholy feel, then almost immediately the classic punchy punk bass tone kicks in, followed by some dynamic guitar harmonics. The song begins to swell like a great punk rock song should and takes off.
The lyrics carry some of the common themes found throughout…
“They stole our money and our trust”
“Nothing ever seems to go our way, just slave, to the grave…got to work to the day I die, gotta work just to survive”
- “Dead By Dawn”
Tight, heavy rhythm section packed with energy and emotion. Such full dynamic sound for three people – four including the extra backup vocals.
Interesting background vocals, timed just right, multi-dimensional.
Sounds sing-songy in the best way possible, but the lyrics are none too happy.
The spirit of sticking together, having someone/something to be a part of.
“It gets so dark, before the dawn”
“It’s been a struggle and a strife, I fight for breath every night”
“Without each other we’d come undone”
Some punk rock vocalists come across as whiney, but one thing I love is the presentation of the lyrics. Great raw, punk rock “balladeering” - then the three-part chorus enters!!! Interesting melodies and harmonies
If “Dead by Dawn” was a bit haunting, “Unity” comes out cranking with rage and angst. One of my favorite parts is right after the first chorus. I admit, one of my favorite things is a great punk rock breakdown (although some will say punk rock doesn’t have break downs – I disagree), and the bass tone is perfect.
Has common theme of sticking together, having hope
“Because I still believe, that with unity, everything can be achieved”
- “Petty Schemes”
Don’t follow the traditional path - Starts with a slow, fat bass riff, interesting guitar melody. Verse vocals are again more sing-songy, and the guitar melody helps to create an interesting, dare I say jazzy feel. Helps to give every song on this album a different twist, while remaining true to the theme.
“Can smell it on your breath, the desperation of petty schemes…Destroy our dreams, with your petty schemes, tearing at the seams”
Ends with Ian screaming – “fading away!”
- “Corporate Pariah”
Starts out like a great punk rock ballad, telling a story…
“We gave everything until we died”
“Only looking for some traction, a reaction to the blank expression on your face”
Contains CD title lyric – “The Lost Art Of Empathy”
“False Messiah,” “Corporate Pariah,” “Global Tragedy”
“We bought your soul – it’s all coming down, tonight”
Uplifting, soaring guitar riff – “Let’s go!”
Reminiscing about the good old days
“We were just having fun, until it all came undone”
“You gotta sing it like you mean it” – love this line
“So we raise our glass up to the sky…
Punk rock heroes never – punk rock heroes never die!”
- “I Can’t Breathe”
One of the heavier songs on the album. I especially like the riff right after – “Did you feel the blast?”
Song serves to express the feeling that we’re headed on a crash course for doom and destruction…“The city isn’t safe” – I can’t breath…We can’t breathe (common theme throughout)
- “Everything Must Go”
In your face vocals mixed with an interesting guitar texture
“Destroy the future for the young. With these poison clouds, where can we run?”
First song with a guitar solo of sorts (not too common in punk rock) - acts as an outro
- “Ad Nauseum”
So much of the same old nonsense that
“There’s nothing left to believe”
- “Eviction Notice”
Starts with an intricate, fat bass line and then hits a dissonant chord before hurtling into the verse with the drums driving the song. Chunky, almost thrash like bridge section
“The machine, the one that destroys everything”
- “Alcorn Queen”
Starts with a kind of off time guitar riff before the bass takes hold and vocals kick in Second glimpse of a guitar solo
- “Are We Even Human Anymore?”
Once again proves singing chops with a heartfelt story - cleaner vocals, though still with a bit of rasp
Acoustic offering telling the story of touring across the country and ends with a glimmer of hope
“These are our songs, of defeat and revolution and the strength to carry on.” “Where we all belong.” “We’ll all die in this together.” “But if we do, make it through…”
Although a few days away from official release, this is a great CD and would be well worth the effort to check it out. In fact, if you are interested and can make it out, you can catch their CD release show at Cobra Lounge in Chicago on Sunday, July 16th. The show starts at 7:00 pm, and they will be playing with - Johnny Automatic, Kodakrome, and Headspins. The band will be giving away FREE cd's of the new full-length to all whom attend as a thank you to the fans for the continued support over all these years.
Click Here To Visit The Band (contains their tour schedule in support of “The Lost Art of Empathy” CD)
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The greater Chicago area has been deeply rooted in the metal music scene since the late 70’s/early 80’s when Doom metal pioneers Trouble out of Aurora, Illinois made a name for themselves. Since then, we have witnessed the rise and fall of many interconnected acts, with bands like Zoetrope, Macabre and Master being the foundation so to speak. Of course in this day and age, bands have been emerging out of the windy city by the hundreds. Whether or not the aforementioned acts are directly connected to the current sound in Chicago, their presence and influence on the growing scene at the time is undeniable. With a more complex crossbreed of genre’s and much higher quality production, today's sound of metal music has certainly transformed. From the bold, yet melodious sounds of The Bloodline, to the modern progressive deathcore sound of Born Of Osiris, the music of my home city has been evolving greatly over the last twenty years. However, melodic death metal has not been in the spotlight of this city for a very long time. Enforsaken released Sinners Intuition in 2006 and The Forever Endeavor back in 2004, which reigned as one of my favorite melo-death albums for quite awhile. That is until I heard Disciplined, the debut full length album from melodic death metal group, Nephilim. Arriving at my ears out of the blue, this album completely blindsided me. The first ever release by this band of talented musicians reeks of tasty riffs, diligent drumming and confidently collected vocal work.
Fusing lightning speed riffs with meticulous percussion, the member’s of Nephilim add a technical twist to their music which can not be rivaled. Highlighting some of melodic death metal’s finest aspects, the riffs displayed on this album take you on a journey through many twists and turns. The guitar parts in this album tell a story, which after a detailed drum fill, starts at the beginning few seconds of track one “Lord of Fear.” Directly out of the gate, you get a sense of this band’s competency to slash their way through an array of distinguished string work.
Nephilim present catchy hooks in tracks like “Join Us or Die” and “The Brave,” in which the former has a real thrash appeal to it and the ladder has a very upbeat charm. Lead singer Linus Knutsson does an excellent job using fluid vocal patterns and syllabic expressions to complement each and every melody on this record. Track six, “I Know Who You Are!” blasts in with a “Statutory Ape”-esque (The Black Dahlia Murder song) beginning and develops a dynamic atmosphere. An atmosphere packed with riffing variations and speedy drum fills that continues on until the very last seconds of the album. However, “In The Clear” shows us a bit of a slow side to Nephilim, while also highlighting the meaty sound of the bass provided throughout this record. This track maintains the same level of speed up until the very first seconds of the final track, “Absent Streets of Gold.” Beginning with a face-melting riff and retaining a whirlwind of constant shred, this is the song I would use to best describe this band’s sound. Explosive, melodic and fearless. Sharing his wealth of knowledge behind the kit, drummer Fredrik Widigs (Marduk, Nordjevel, etc…) adds his technical precision to create a unique and balanced end result for this band of newcomers.
Consistent, coherent and certainly Disciplined, every single track on this album is carefully assembled with complexities heard through each and every guitar note. If it is up to Nephilim to carry the torch for Chicago melo-death, then so be it. I stand behind that idea one hundred and ten percent. Although this city is booming with loads of musical talent, I believe that nothing has been as refreshing as Disciplined for quite sometime.
Nephilim - Disciplined (Released December 6th, 2016, Front Cover of our debut album Disciplined created by Roberto Toderico)
- Sean McLennan
Linus Knutsson - Vocals
Jeff Frank - Guitars
Dannu Ku - Guitars
Tom Munaco - Drums
Jon Bukiewicz - Bass
Drums on Disciplined recorded by Fredrik Widigs
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