Voices’ follow-up to their insane 2013 debut is a puzzling, intricate concept album based in their home city of London. Whilst their debut blasted at 96,000bpm, the band (consisting primarily of ex-Akercocke staff) still managed to fit a lot of subtly, emotion, delicate guitar work and other elements of beauty into their high-speed aural assault. It was pretty similar to Akercocke, only dragged kicking and screaming into a cold and modern world. London expands further upon this, slowing the pace slightly to give everything else more breathing room, and allowing some amazing things to unfold.
That isn’t to say this album isn’t fast, heavy or abrasive. There’s a shitload going on here, and hey, David Gray is on the drums, so, lightning fast blastbeats are inevitable.
On the subject of David Gray the drum sound has cleared up spectacularly from the debut; it actually sounds like real drumming now, which makes it all the better! Voices’ overall production style is still razor sharp, cold and claustrophobic, though. Awkward, fuck-knows-what-time-signature riffs mesh over blastbeats, pianos, scuzzy electronics and a smorgasbord of clean and shrieked vocals, both male and female. And then there’s the narrator; the velvet-throated storyteller (who sounds suspiciously like Jason Mendonca) holding the entire thing together like the metal bolt holding a crystal chandelier to the ceiling.
Stand out tracks for me are “Music For The Recently Bereaved”, “Megan”, “The House Of Black Light” (what the fuck is going on here?) and the closing epic “Cold Harbour Lane”. On the first couple of listens, everything post-“Megan” tends to blur into one, but I wrapped my head around it in the end. The only track I don’t really like at all is “Last Train Victoria Line”, where the lyrics harken back to something Bring Me The Horizon might have wrote when they were 17 years old.
All in all though, a worthy follow up to the group’s first offering and a searing slice of experimental extreme metal, whichever way you look at it. Easily one of the best albums of 2014, I’d wager.