VOLA - The future of prog?

20. June 2021


VOLA - Die Zukunft des Prog?

Asger Mygind's personal playlist ranges from Modeselektor to Meshuggah - and thus sums up the bandwidth of his band VOLA well. On their third album "Witness", the Danes push stylistic boundaries at will, elevate their sound into new spheres and solidify their status as young hopefuls of progressive metal.

Since the release of their 2018 album "Applause Of A Distant Crowd" at the latest, Vola have become an indispensable part of the new generation of prog. Not only do the Danes skilfully develop genre traditions further, they also actively get up close and personal with modern varieties of pop, electronic music and recently even hip-hop, which are rather frowned upon in the scene. On tour with Dream Theater, they recently proved impressively that their resulting mixture even appeals to the long-established.

With "Witness", Vola have now taken their sound one step higher - and quite deliberately so. Even before the central songwriting sessions for the album began, they asked their Grammy-nominated compatriot Jacob Hansen if he would be available for mixing and mastering afterwards. Hansen, who had previously helmed albums by Volbeat, U.D.O. and Heaven Shall Burn, among others, agreed, indirectly shaping the composition process. "We were already writing the songs with his sound in mind," explains singer and guitarist Asger Mygind. "He has a signature sound that sounds very hi-fi and just big. That was like a beacon for us. That's one of the reasons why we created so much percussion and so many vocal layers. We knew he was going to be able to accommodate that." At the same time, the songs were also meant to sound heavier and more "in your face" compared to their predecessor, as Mygind points out. "'Applause Of A Distant Crowd' was quieter than our debut. Now we wanted to do something different again. In that respect, 'Witness' is also a reaction to 'Applause'."

Tyler, The Creator meets Progmetal

A look at Asger's playlist reveals the spectrum of musical influences Vola process in their songs. He recommends "Extended" by Berlin DJ duo Modeselektor first, followed by Silverchair's "Diorama" and "Nothing" by Meshuggah. In doing so, he draws interesting parallels: Modeselektor's beats and handling of syncopation remind him of metal grooves. In Meshuggah screamer Jens Kidman's vocals he recognizes similarities to hip-hop because of the rhythmically oriented approach. Accordingly, the fear of contact was small when Vola produced a beat for the song "These Black Claws", which called for chanting. "I was still rapping on the demo," Mygind grins. "I'm not really trained in that area though, and we also preferred a deeper voice for it." Tyler, The Creator, among others, served as a reference; via YouTube, Mygind eventually found someone whose voice he found even more impressive: Bless, rapper of the Californian-Dutch duo Shahmen. "We messaged him, and he was up for it. That was pretty cool." The result is surprising - especially with the stark contrast between Mygind's high, melodic vocal lines and Bless's dry rhymes - but it works brilliantly ...

Read more in the current issue ...