Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Voyager on fire - 85%

duijffke, April 6th, 2021

I feel like there’s two things in metal music I tend to pay attention to more than other people. Obviously, I’d need to investigate that further to reach a valid conclusion, but in general, I don’t read about an album’s production and artwork as often as I feel I should. After all, the first things that one is confronted with when listening to new music, are said artwork and the sound the instruments have been given. Yes, songwriting and technical skill are surely important as well, but can in my opinion only be fully recognized after a few more listens. That’s why I feel like I have to begin this review of Voyager’s sixth full-length with a few mentions of artwork, production and why I’ve got a problem with one of both.

You already knew - the artwork isn’t the problem here. It’s probably my favourite I’ve ever seen in progressive metal. No, the problem is Ghost Mile’s mixing. Voyager’s clearest and best sounding record to date still is The Meaning of I. The well-known Jens Bogren was responsible for the mixing and mastering and he knows his stuff, so it befuddled me that Voyager didn’t hire him for V. And it’s not like Bogren has returned for Ghost Mile so that he could fix the mixing problems that V had. Although Ghost Mile sounds a million miles better than V, the drums and bass still create such a fat and overly present layer that it’s hard not to notice it. If this layer would’ve at least felt somewhat alive and not completely artificial, this problem could’ve been forgiven. But sadly it can’t. The down-tuned guitars contribute to that numb, fat sound of Ghost Mile, but thankfully Daniel Estrin’s clear voice and the very pleasant keys help maintain a certain balance.

The mixing pretty much is my only real complaint here, but it’s a significant one. If the songs hadn’t been this good however, I might not have returned to Ghost Mile as often as I do. This album has in fact some of the best songs the band have ever written. It finds the perfect equilibrium between The Meaning of I’s accessible pop-oriented songs and the less catchy tracks on V, making sure Ghost Mile is one of their most enjoyable albums. Voyager prove that progressive metal (they call it ‘epic electro progressive pop power metal, but… come on) can be accessible to the great public without sounding overly complex. The rhythm section does lay down sections which are hard to follow at first, like in “Ascension”, but thanks to the catchy verse and chorus in said song and pretty much each song after that, the album generally feels very comfortable and never gets boring. I particularly like that Voyager know progressive metal songs don’t have to be over eight minutes long to be considered progressive - kudos.

Voyager have always given the flow throughout their albums that little bit of extra attention. From their beginning with Element V there are several intermezzos to be found in each album, some instrumental, others containing a short yet meaningful lyrical passage. I’m glad they redid that trick on Ghost Mile, as “To the Riverside” finds the exact spot where the album needs to be dialled down a bit - after the beautiful and calm “The Fragile Serene” and before the magnificent title track. “Ghost Mile” is without a doubt the best song the band have ever written. In just over four minutes Voyager manage to build up towards a huge climax that ends in the best way possible. Vocalist Estrin keeps his cool and doesn’t do anything too crazy, but the part from roughly 2:30 shows some amazing work from guitarists Dow and Kay, who must have gotten carpal tunnel syndrome after playing that insane bridge. Drummer Doodkorte however is the real standout here with a double kick performance I thought only Samus Paulicelli could pull off this tightly.

After the very solid “What a Wonderful Day” - which really doesn’t sound as hopeful as the title might suggest - and a fabulous drum fill from Doodkorte building up towards the first chorus, Voyager goes technical again with “Disconnected”. This is one of the most complex songs here, but that also makes it one of the least memorable. Ghost Mile ends on a rather uplifting note with “This Gentle Earth” until it reaches the six-and-a-half minute closer “As the City Takes the Night”. Like I said before, Voyager make sure their albums run very smoothly. This epic track is once again proof of that with a superior closure to the album which keeps the spark alive. What an ingenious and entertaining ride Ghost Mile is. And if production value is less important to you than it is to me or you don’t feel the same way I do about the thick drum and bass sound, feel free to add ten percent to my score. In the meantime I’ll be listening to that title track again - please do not disturb!

Highlights: “Ascension”, “The Fragile Serene”, “Ghost Mile”