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Australian progsters Voyager are something of a re-discovery for me. My last encounter with them was at the ProgPower Europe festival five years ago in Holland and, I have to admit, the only recorded work of the band I've ever checked out was their debut album, 'Element V'. With various lineup changes over the years, only frontman Danny Estrin remains from said release, although Dutch drummer Mark Boeijen and Scottish guitarist Simone Dow, both of whom joined just before their ProgPower performance, are still present. An unsourced quote in the press blurb claims that Voyager are "one of the most original and daring groups on the planet" - whilst there are elements of originality and innovation in their songwriting, whoever's responsible for these words, just what point of comparison they have for "most original and daring", the mind boggles. Evidently someone who has never encountered the likes of Psyopus, Unexpect, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Ephel Duath, Solefald, Disillusion, Burst...I could go on but you get the idea. Wildly experimental and wholly original Voyager are not, rather they pastiche stylistic ideas from metal, rock, prog, and electronic genres to create a fusion wrapped up and bound together in some solid, very likeable compositions. Don't get me wrong, there's certainly innovation and originality present, just not an abundance that would warrant labelling them as "one of the most original and daring groups" in the world. So, my advice is to ignore such statements and indulge in the inherent merits of 'The Meaning of I' which is a melodically compelling blend of said styles. Undoubtedly one of Voyager's strengths is Estrin's vocal talent and he's compared on the press sheet to A-ha's Morten Harket (which is interesting to read as I always thought that myself). I just love this man's voice as it adds a whole other dimension to the band's overall sound. Full of melancholic, pathos-driven emotion, Estrin's singing won't be to every metaller's taste but, for me, it's here where Voyager genuinely shine on the originality front. Ever wondered what a prog-metal band fronted by Morten Harket would sound like? I'm sure nobody ever has, but Voyager are it! Occasional death vocals appear here and there, such as on the title track, although Estrin's become a more adept growler than on the band's debut (where his growls were somewhat weak) and, interestingly, ex-TesseracT singer Daniel Tompkins guests on 'The Pensive Disarray', although in a non-growling capacity. While on the subject of this song, its intro of bass/snare drum beats threatens to burst into Queen's 'We Will Rock You', although it doesn't. I guess Voyager are living by their prog credentials by taking ideas of yore and developing them into something new. 'It's Time to Know' has echoes of Type O Negative's 'Everything Dies' as does 'Iron Man', although with the latter subtitled 'In Memoriam: Peter Steele', said band are evidently an influence. All in all, 'The Meaning of I' is a very solid album containing a strong series of tracks that are all adorned with Estrin's beautiful voice. Well worth checking out.
Review by Mark Holmes
5th Dec 2011
1) Momentary Relapse of Pain
2) Stare into the Night
3) Seize the Day; 4) Broken
5) The Pensive Disarray
6) He Will Remain; 7) The Meaning of I
8) Iron Dream
9) Feuer Meiner Zeit
10) Fire of the Times
11) She Takes Me
12) It's Time to Know
13) Are You Shaded?
"Undoubtedly one of Voyager's strengths is Estrin's vocal talent...Full of melancholic, pathos-driven emotion..."