My HeadBangers this week I am venturing into the world of “DJENT” music, which is a subgenre of progressive metal characterized by its use of off-beat and complex rhythm patterns. Its distinctive sound is that of high-gain, distorted, palm-muted, down-tuned strings. The name “djent” is an onomatopoeia of this sound. I have a list of bands from around the planet that play in this genre. I find it different but I like it, so let me know what you think. This band is from Denmark, let’s hear what they have to say…
“Inside Your Fur”
“These Black Claws”
Featuring American rapper SHAHMEN
Let’s look at some bio on this band in their own words:
VOLA was formed in the mid 2000’s in Birkerod, a Copenhagen suburb, by a group of friends all attending the local music school. After having made a small handful of demo recordings in 2006, the group – including Asger Mygind and Martin Werner – wrote and recorded their debut EP ‘Homesick Machinery’, which was self-released in 2008.
In 2009 Nicolai Mogensen joined VOLA after having stumbled upon an audition call from the band. Being first and foremost a guitarist, Nicolai was not actually playing bass at the time, but he liked the music of VOLA so much that he borrowed a bass and decided to apply anyway.
“We played ‘Like a rainbow’, ‘Giants’ and a few others. I remember thinking that their style of music was really unique, not something you would hear a lot of in Denmark at the time. So I was keen to play with them and very happy when they finally, after three months of leaving me hanging, invited me to!” Two years later the band recorded and released their second EP ‘Monsters’ (2011), already at the time receiving some international attention through social media. Talking about this release, Mygind reflects: “On Monsters, we started experimenting with 7-string guitars and more groove-driven songwriting. It worked so well on the EP that we wanted to elaborate on this for a full album.”
VOLA in 2015 self-released their debut album ‘Inmazes,’ mixed by Mygind and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Soilwork) of Fascination Street Studio. The album lyrically dealt with the feeling of being trapped in mental mazes, not fully experiencing happiness and was further developing the sound from ‘Monsters’, importantly taking the role of the keyboard in new directions. It had an immediate impact with rave reviews flooding in. The band was subsequently signed to Mascot Records (Flying Colors, Black Stone Cherry, Monster Truck) who re-released the album physically and digitally worldwide in 2016.
Upon its re-release, ‘Inmazes’ was met with another wave of critical praise. Prog magazine lauded their “widescreen heavy stadium Prog”, Metal Hammer rejoiced in the “genre-defying, weighty riffs, gloomy, ambient soundscapes and guttural grooves”, whilst the UK’s biggest daily newspaper, The Sun, exclaimed their “genre-mashing” ability. The single ‘Stray The Skies’ was playlisted at both Kerrang! Radio and Scuzz TV. They ended 2017 with a nomination for the Limelight Award at the Progressive Music Awards.
“It is weird to think about today, how we sat together in Asger’s tiny dorm room and made this record, which ended up meaning so much to a lot of people – and to us as a band as well,” says Mogensen. Having only played a handful of shows before ‘Inmazes’ was released, VOLA then took part in the ‘Fallen Hearts of Europe’ tour with Katatonia from September to November 2016. They made a series of festival appearances at ArcTanGent (UK), Rockaue Open Air (DL), Take Over Daze (DL) as well as their first-ever run of UK headline shows. More shows followed in 2018 with Euroblast (Germany), Complexity Fest (Netherlands), Tech-Fest (UK), and Bloodstock (UK).
Upon this time, Adam Janzi joined the band, after the departure of former drummer Felix Ewert. VOLA found Janzi on Youtube, especially liking one of his Meshuggah-covers. They invited him to come to Copenhagen and rehearse for some shows and they instantly fell for his unique drumming style, which has later come to influence VOLA-songwriting significantly.
Jumping ahead to 2021.
VOLA’s third full-length album ‘Witness’ was announced in February 2021 to be released on 21st May via Mascot Records. Mygind was once again producing, but this time the mixing and mastering was handled by Grammy-nominated producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, The Black Dahlia Murder, Amaranthe).
‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’ had a lot of dynamics between the songs, and the production steered towards a highly organic and lively sound. After having done that, it felt refreshing to try to do something more processed sounding, where the energy level was less fluctuating. The songs were surely written with this aim in mind.”
“Having Jacob Hansen mix the album was also a factor. Since he is very good at creating catchy vocals, the prospect of working with him was a motivation to make an album where big, memorable choruses were paramount. In general he’s fond of grandiose soundscapes, which inspired us to add more layers to the production than what we’ve ever done before.”
Somewhat thematically aligned with ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’, Witness explores unsettled relationships on both an individual and societal scale. Mygind explains:
“I did not have a plan when writing the lyrics, but when the songs were done I realized that the lyrics largely deal with failed relationships. On a societal scale, they show themselves in the friction between leaders and followers, which is caused by misuse of power, and if I zoom in, the failure is born from unrequited love, grief, manipulative behavior and insecurity. Connecting it with the album title, one could view the characters portrayed in the lyrics as being witnesses to the dissolution of the bond they have created with people in their lives.”
With ‘Witness’ being conceived and released during the Covid19-pandemic presenting the album live is an obvious challenge that the band is currently facing. But so far, a danish tour has been announced with more to come.
Let’s meet the band:
Asger Mygind (vocals/guitar)
Martin Werner (keys)
Nicolai Mogensen (bass)
Adam Janzi (drums)
And there you have it my HeadBangers 3 Danes and 1 Swede. So tell me what you think, I am dying to know. I like it, it’s different but you can feel it, I can. There are a lot of bands out there and I might have to put some more on here. Check them out, they tour a lot and maybe coming to a city near you sometime. That’s it for this week, join me next week for another band and another song, in the meantime don’t stand to close to the fire if you can’t handle the burn…