Sound — 9
This is your typical "Djent" album. Chugga chug chug or Djent dadjent the boat all the way home. The guitars are nice and meaty. The drums kick like Bruce Lee and the vocals go up like an angel and down like an ox. There does not seem to be much variety in Djent anymore. The name of the game is play some technical riff then comp chords while playing a clean melody over top of it. Throw a breakdown and a solo in there and you have a song. There is nothing wrong with this formula. In fact the whole Djent movement is one of the funnest genres to listen to. So what makes Via special? It is one of the better assembled albums as a whole. Every note seems to come in at the right time and every aspect of the album has a nice flow to it. This is not to say the album has its faults. I am on my my sixth listen of the album and for the most part the beginning songs are very forgettable. The flow of this album is a slow start and a strong finish. The first two songs "Paid In Full" and "Wormholes" are great attention grabbers. After those tracks there seems to be a pattern that put me sleep if I am not actively listening to the CD. The intensity of the next few tracks goes down. "Reversion" is an instrumental track with clean guitars and some ambience synths thrown over top. The next three tracks after "Reversion" are pretty similar for the most part. They are good but almost forgettable. The record really starts to pick up about half way through track number eight, "Intake" "Intake" starts off with some nice clean slow guitars and gradually grows into a monster of a track. Everything afterwards retains the same intensity to create a wonderful experience. The only low after "Intake" is track number 10 appropriately named "Recovery." It sets up into arguably the albums strongest song "Edge of the Earth." The groove on "Edge of Earth" is spectacular. It is one of those songs that I start bobbing my head every time it comes on. The chorus is very strong. For such a heavy album "Edge of Earth" one of the few moments where I find myself involuntarily wanting to sing with the singer. The last track "Via" does a nice job of sending the record off. "Via" definitely left me wanting to hear more from these guys.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, this album is pretty weird. There are moments when the screamer starts telling personal stories then says something pretty ridiculous. "Affirmation of Ascension" is the prime example of this phenomenon. He starts off by screaming "In the end of it all it comes down to one or two things." Then in the most gangster moment of the record he yells out "And if you got money then I got money." The first time I heard this I almost wanted to laugh. This is one of the main reasons I generally do not care much for the words lyrically. The two vocalists put on top notch performances for this record. In a genre with very similar singers, the vocalist doing the singing does a great job not sounding like Spencer Sotelo, Chris Barretto, or Casey Sabol. Now that is an argument for another day, but it is something that needs to be addressed. These guys are not a direct Periphery clone, and they put their own spin on the whole Djent genre which is a fine change of pace. The cleans are very catchy. You will find yourself humming along to them, especially during "Edge of the Earth" The screaming is minor issue. Both vocalists scream and there is nothing wrong with that but they are very similar. It is not one doing the highs and the other doing lows. They are pretty monotone and for the most part on the exact same pitch. That is a minor grip but one that makes me question why there are two singers in the first place. What puts the screaming above the competition is how heavy and in your face the screaming actually is. All to often you will find a band like this where singing is the focal point. These guys are not afraid to come out and put that hardcore/deathcore style of screaming on the plate. In many ways it enhances the delivery of the rest of the song.
Overall Impression — 9
If you are a fan of Djent, Deathcore, or Metal fan in general, I suggest you pick this up. Via has long lasting appeal and will be played in my Itunes for quite some time. If I have to pick the strongest tracks I will say "Paid In Full," "Wormholes," "Intake," and "Edge of the Earth" If you are looking for a Periphery clone then you are looking in the wrong place. If you are looking for a band with good groove and catchy hooks then you are in the right place. Via is one of the better "Djent" albums to come out this year and Hopefully Volumes release more great material in the future.