The genre-welding Danish-Swedish quartet VOLA return with their brand-new album, Witness, on 21 May, released on Mascot Records. Ahead of this they have revealed the official video for “Straight Lines,” which you can see here https://youtu.be/DhcsSfCbl7Y
Witness comes nearly three years after the release of ‘Applause of a Distant Crowd,’ which saw the band go deep into the rabbit-hole, exploring society’s distractions from thoughtfulness and examined the way human relationships have evolved. Their new album goes a step further, shining a light on the subject of failed relationships, on a societal scale—the friction between leaders and followers, which is caused by the misuse of power.
“If I zoom in,” guitarist-singer Asger Mygind says. “The failure is born from unrequited love, grief, manipulative behaviour 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.”
The band have also revealed the stunning video for the album opener, “Straight Lines.” Discussing the song, Mygind explains, “Imagine someone being on the run from the authorities. It is becoming increasingly hard for this person to hide, which “running low on straight lines” can be seen as a metaphor. He/she can’t just choose the direct route but has to be creative to escape. Whether the hunt is real or just in the person’s head should be an open question for the listener.”
Last year the band revealed their first taster of the new album with “Head Mounted Sideways.’’ The song elegantly flows in and out of crushing riffs and hauntingly beautiful melodies all with the musical complexity that has become the hallmark of a VOLA song. “The ‘head-mounted sideways’ is another metaphor, for ‘looking the other way,’” says Asger Mygind. “I did not have any plan with the lyrics, but once I knew that they should convey anger, it was intuitive to talk about the decline of civilizations and not taking responsibility for the obvious decline. It didn’t necessarily speak about Earth in 2020. What I felt was important to get across was the image of a world built on flawed morals, and how this world eventually crumbles and falls due to the cracks in the foundation.”
VOLA wrote the songs after they returned from their successful 2019 headline tour across Europe. The tour had a string of sold-out shows along the way. It capped off an incredible two years, which had seen them also tour with Dream Theater, Anathema, Katatonia, Haken, Monuments, as well as show-stealing performances at Euroblast, Ramblin’ Man Fair, Radar Festival, Bloodstock, Damnation Fest, Tech Fest and more.
The album’s themes are entwined into both the cover art and the title as Mygind elaborates; “The cover art of the album largely inspired the title. To me, the image could either portray the close-up of an eye, or a zoomed-out image of something burning. In case of the eye, I imagine that it belongs to someone witnessing an event. Something huge and life changing. In case of burning, it is the viewer of the cover art who becomes the witness. Or maybe this burning is what the eye is looking at. No matter how I look at it, the concept of being a witness seems very present in the artwork.”
The album was produced by the band and it was mixed and mastered by the Grammy nominated Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, The Black Dahlia Murder, Amaranthe). Each song presents its unique characters, some are fictional, and real events inspire some. “24 Light-Years,” follows someone searching for a vanished relative – are they lost/dead? How deep does the story dive? “Freak,“ delves into insecurity and power, “Napalm,” represents a failed relationship and the remorse and regret that follows, whilst “Stone Leader Falling Down,” highlights bullying and the misuse of power and “Inside Your Fur,” explores the ills of nostalgia.
“Future Bird” is a heartbreaking story based on real events. “I got the idea for those lyrics after having read a Facebook post by a couple who had lost an unborn child. They told about the pregnancy and their emotions directed towards this human being they never got to meet.” He continues, “The “future bird” is a metaphor for the child who never got the chance to grow up and make a mark on the world.”
“These Black Claws” is a metaphor for addiction and the experience of being pulled back through the darkness and features electronic/hip-hop duo, SHAHMEN. Bless (vocalist in SHAHMEN) contributed all the lyrics for his verse. Mygind says, “I think his vocals contribute with a demonic vibe while adding groove to the track. The beat in the verse is very hip hop inspired, so putting rap on top feels like fulfilling the potential of that part.” The lyrics “One straw in the drain/One word that you failed to sustain” echoes over and over before the band rip into a Panzer heavy attack as the song spirals deep into a suffocating heaviness.
Always evocative, VOLA glide along, barely a breath away from their subject matter, holding the listener close and silent as you observe the journey unfold. It’s their ability to create a cinematic aesthetic that allows you to be a detached observer, but also enveloped in the narrative, pulling you deeper within the rabbit hole, following the story further down into its veins.
VOLA are Asger Mygind (vocals/guitar), Martin Werner (keys), Nicolai Mogensen (bass) and Adam Janzi (drums).
1. Straight Lines
2. Head Mounted Sideways
3. 24 Light-Years
4. These Black Claws (ft. Shahmen)
7. Future Bird
8. Stone Leader Falling Down
9. Inside Your Fur