Though we’ve been on a bit a prog kick lately with the reviews, I think I’ve personally been pretty successful with avoiding any wankfests. When I heard Aussies Voyager described as a synth-happy amalgam of Nevermore, Dream Theater and Cynic, I wasn’t really all that stoked. First, I’m more partially to the prog of Symphony X than Dream Theater. As for Cynic, well, that band is like Meshuggah; I don’t need more than one. Still, I heard good things and The Meaning of I was released rather quietly back in October and I thought I’d give it a spin. Though this record will gain you no tough guy points, it’s an earnest work from a prog metal band that writes catchy hooks, indulges in wild deluges of synths and occasionally delivers the goods with some weighty headbanging. A short romp through the record, shall we?
“Stare into the Night” and “Broken” are great examples of Voyager at their strongest; though, say, not especially machista, they don’t cease to be compelling and memorable after even just a single listen. The title track is a heavier excursion and tows the Nevermore line with some nice death metal vocals as well. The synth and lead guitars are then layered over a welcome breakdown at just under the 3 minute mark. This is likely the strongest track on the album from a metal standpoint. Still, some of the most intriguing parts of the record center around distinctly non-metal elements. The keyboard work is heavily electronica influenced rather than just your usual guitar riff add-on; see the wildly frantic intro of “Fire of Times”. Not only that but “Iron Dream”, a tribute to the late Peter Steele of Type O Negative, and the atmospheric “He Will Remain” even evoke a David Bowie vibe. Ol’ Ziggy being one of my favorite non-metal artists, I’m naturally quite pleased but take that comparison for what you will. In fact, if you took the bombastic double bass and guitars out of tracks like “Morning Light II” they would be nothing short of 80s pop/electronica. “It’s Time To Know” is devoid of any distorted guitar whatsover, instead building with hypnotic keys. The German-born Danny Estrin then unexpectedly breaks into perfect Russian during one of the verses. Not entirely unexpected, as he employs some German in other parts of the record, but those who speak the language know that it is not an easy accent to master and Estrin sounds like a native speaker. The whole record is a dreamy, exploration of space and time and embarks on said voyage with some infectious synth work and minimal solo wanking.