Riddle me this, men and women of the metal community: why is promotion non-existent for From the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain, the debut album from UK black/death metal madmen Voices? It isn’t like they don’t have the pedigree; the band boasts two ex-members of the acclaimed Akercocke (drummer David Gray and guitarist/vocalist Peter Benjamin), a band that was arguably among the most progressive and innovative of its generation. It certainly isn’t as if Voices have dropped a dud, because From the Human Forest… flat-out smokes. We could sit here all day and ponder why some albums get the proverbial nod while other, often more deserving ones get buried, but this stellar debut isn’t getting lost in the deluge of 2013 releases if I have anything to say about it.
As you might expect, one can hear echoes of Akercocke in listening to Voices; the band inhabits a very similar progressive black/death metal hybrid space. Yet there’s something about the quartet’s music that’s more frenzied, more unhinged than the often rather stately-sounding compositions of Gray and Benjamin’s former outfit. There’s precision and technicality aplenty, but there’s also an angular, chaotic quality that’s more akin perhaps to Deathspell Omega, making From the Human Forest… a diverse and devastating listen.
The compositions here are full of twists and turns, but Voices never lose sight of creating a coherent song regardless of how they may contort and convulse. They’re just as adept at laying down traditionally blackened, tremolo riff-laden passages as they are at tossing off slabs of ultra-technical perverse calculus, in turn keeping the listener on the edge of their seat. On first listen it’s difficult to anticipate where each composition on From the Human Forest… will take you, making the album a brutal yet pleasant respite from the scores of ridiculously predictable black and death metal that’s currently clogging the scene like so much McDonald’s grease in the arteries of a four hundred pound diabetic.
From the Human Forest… isn’t just a use once and discard affair though; the album holds up just as well upon repeat listens, continuing to reveal musical details and nuances that you’d swear weren’t even there before. Fortunately, the production is clear enough that one can easily discern those minute details, but still retains enough grit ‘n’ grime to remind you that this is indeed a shit-kicking/face-ripping metal record. There’s just enough murkiness in the mix to provide an appropriately miasmal atmosphere without being distracting or dulling the abundant killer riffage. It’s a well-rounded sound that’s perfectly suited to Voices’ sophisticated yet sadistic assault.
It seems that From the Human Forest… is destined to be one of this year’s most slept-on albums for both fans and critics alike, but I’m hoping that as we draw ever closer to end of 2013 that more people will stop and take notice of this already underrated debut. These guys are only going to get better as they continue to explore and flesh out their sound, so you might as well get in on the ground floor.