Volumes are a five piece metalcore and progressive metal act out of Los Angeles, California. It seems California is a hot bed for new and interesting metal combinations, Volumes being a perfect example. With members coming from the backgrounds of various musical genres like jazz and softer rock, their aesthetic is a grand mixture of sounds few bands in metalcore can emulate. With the sharp riffs similar to the cutting nature of Meshuggah and the patience of a jazz act, Volumes are a true original in a genre full of clones. In 2011 Volumes released their first full-length album, Via to solid acclaim. While not garnering any masterpiece reviews, the brutal grooves of the record gave off a strong energy even if there was a lack of variety in the track listing.
No Sleep shows the band moving more toward a progressive metal phase, combining more of the elements that give their music a fresher set on tones. The guitars are still groovy and heavy like on Via, but there is more sense of rhythm among the loud lines. The vocals are largely unchanged, which is perfectly fine as they have the two best lead singers in metalcore right now. The layers that both screamers throw into Volumes’ sound is stunning from beginning to end, also managing to sound equally immaculate live. There is an addition of clean vocal tones to this record, which surprisingly work just as well. The difference is in the sharper sense of theme and song writing. No Sleep is a concept album about a relationship that the writer is having a hard time getting over, constantly moving forward and backward throughout the ten track song listing. The interludes are sharper and more electronic, giving the listener a break in tone even if the band demolish them with the next angry song.
There are plenty of notable tracks throughout No Sleep’s 33 minute running time. “The Mixture” opens the album on a nasty note toward record labels and their hatred of anything harsh and new. The tone of the song is nailed by the heavy and grooved guitars and a drone that is always laying in the background. There is a lame fade-out to the song but it is forgivable. “91367” is the first truly conceptual track present, serving as the opening chapter to the love story listeners are embroiled into. The electronics are not thrown in perfectly, but the vocals and guitars are nearly perfect with a final minute that is truly breath taking. “Erased” is the sore thumb of the track listing, but in a good way. This is Volumes paying off on their versatility by making mixing rhythmic sensibilities with a slower clean vocal charge, followed by a loud and noisy chorus to bust up the track a little bit. “Vahle” and “Up All Night” are the perfect examples of what the band can move forward into as a creative group though. These tracks are more intimate with lyrics that can cut like a knife about relationships, but also are just as heavy as anything on Via. “Vahle” is easily their most ambitious track ever created, mixing soft and hard elements with relative ease.
There are some issues with No Sleep as a whole though. There is a weaker three song segment of the record that loses a bit of momentum. “Better Half” is a full-on electronic interlude that is perfectly fine in it’s purpose, but it also fails to truly become anything interesting also. “Across the Bed” is a decent follow-up but it is the weakest chapter of the concept by a long shot. The chorus and lyrics are a bit too weak even if the mixing is pitch perfect. “Pistol Play” is the most disjointed song on No Sleep, killing the flow that the band can throw down. While being the darkest and most brooding song on the track listing, it also has a stark contrast from beginning to end that sets up the second half well but suffers as a result. The only other problem with the album is the various ideas merit a little more time to develop. Volumes can tinker with this formula and make an even better record in the future though.
Volumes are slowly coming into their own, even if it will take some time to develop a better mix. Gone are the days where Volumes offer limited finesse and breaks. No Sleep offers more balance and composure while also offering the same clean guitars grooves and astounding vocal attack. Despite the concept not quite being pulled off perfectly, Volumes are moving in the right direction. A direction that could earn them stardom as a leader of the progressive metal movement.
1. The Mixture
4. Better Half
5. Across the Bed
6. Pistol Play
8. Neon Eyes
9. Peace of Mind
10. Up All Night
Links to Volumes