Proof that heavy metal does indeed transcend international boundaries in a way in which many other cultural experiences have not managed, Voice Of The Soul – who, of course, take their name from a track on Death’s 1999 album ‘The Sound Of Perseverance’ – hail from a part of the world which may normally be seen as intolerant, indeed repressive, in its attitude to the form of music they have chosen to play… the oil rich Emirate state of Dubai, a place better known for its aforementioned natural resource and its insanely ambitious architectural projects – as well as it asymmetric fascination with but aversion to anything to do with the “western” lifestyle.
Having formed in Kuwait in 2007, when founders Kareem Cheyaheb and Monish Shringi were entering their latter teens, the band made the hop, skip and a jump to the other side of the Persian Gulf in 2011, subsequently releasing their third EP, ‘Into Oblivion’. Having threatened to disappear exactly thereunto, the two friends recruited drummer Rudy Fares and bassist Bassem Farra for the recording, last year, of this, their full-length debut – a release which has saved from the Middle East metal morass by earning them a worldwide distribution deal with Hells Hammer.
Despite, as mentioned, being nomenclaturally inspired by Death, Voice Of The Soul’s sound draws more from the progressive end of the death metal genre, heavily referencing the likes of Dark Tranquillity and Opeth, as well as more groove-laden protagonists of the overall metal genre such as Gojira. Following the appropriately atmospheric intro of ‘Desolation’, which builds as slowly as a sand storm coming in from the Arabian desert, opener ‘Perpetual Deception’ immediately displays the album’s main strength – it’s almost ethereal combination of light and shade.
Hard, punishing riffs tumble and twist through and around dark, dense melodies, which in turn rise and fall with an eloquent beauty that retains an inherent ugliness shimmering on its surface. Kareem’s intensely evil growls evoke long lost demons while Monish’s clean vocals add the perfect counterpoint in their almost elegiac contradiction of the album’s sinister themes.
The undoubted highlight of the album is the absolutely huge ‘Cold Rupture’, which straddles the middle to second third and draws together all of the opus’ lyrical and musical themes in an ambitious manner few Western bands have attempted to master, and also heralds the even darker, more mournful passages of the latter section, which, despite the pure DM intensity of the likes of ‘Perdition’ and ‘Defiled’, retain an oppressive dankness which summarizes the overall feel of this surprising and rewarding release.
Desolation / Perpetual Deception / Pendulum / Quarantine / Cold Rupture / The Mist / Perdition / Defiled / Images Subside
Recommended listening: Cold Rupture
‘Catacombs’ is out now via Hells Hammer and can be ordered via the band’s Bandcamp page.