For metal artists, especially of the more progressive caliber, fusing various metal sub-genres together has become more of a natural way of writing as a way to expand their sound. However, it undoubtedly takes a certain level of creative force and vision in order to prepare a piece of music that really stands out, which is exactly what Chicago act Warforged have accomplished with their latest musical endeavor I: Voice. With a recent signing to The Artisan Era Records, the band has plans to release the follow up to their distinguished debut EP (Essence Of The Land) on May 10th. Seemingly a sound record label fit for the band who produces traits of technical death metal in their sound, but by no means limit themselves to just that. The layers that comprise I: Voice continue to unravel with each section of every song.

I: Voice plays as sort of a stream of consciousness with each song being connected to the next and no breaks in between tracks. Warforged experiment in joining tumultuous technical death metal with tranquil acoustic ambience to create a very detailed and jarring atmosphere on this record. This juxtaposition is observable throughout every song on this album, but represents something more than just musical sound. With the story of this album being heavily centered around the phenomenon of sleep paralysis and the bizarre elements associated with it, the translations of sound mimic the various emotions tied to that.

Vocally, grim shrieks and distorted howls aid in bringing that darkened pool of distressing emotions to life. The mixture of frightening dischord and gritty blackened noise add to the intensity of the listening experience, where as the more calming acoustic passages represent a relief from that terror. The unpredictability of each song creates a listening environment that puts you in the shoes of someone who is petrified and helplessly suffering, driven by an unseen force (or in the case of I: Voice, a wretched hag). It ties into the mental chaos of the main character dealing with the mental trauma from Essence Of The Land. The grandiose nature of a track like “Willow” manages to bring out a lot of the best elements of this album and story, but lets back pedal.

Instrumentally speaking, the chaos represented in this story comes to life through lush heavy tones, erratic riffing and meticulous percussion. A lot of the more extreme elements shine in tracks like “Beneath The Forest Floor,” “Cellar,” “Nightfall Came” and “The Color Of My Memory.” The last song mentioned being the culmination of that chaos and a song that is the most blistering and technically driven. Although these tracks capitalize on the heavier elements of this band, they still contain the same fluctuations in sound as every other track.

The layers of acoustic instruments midway through “Cellar” creates an earworm melody perhaps inspired by the workings of an artist like Steven Wilson that reappears at the end of the track, but heavier. The groove oriented track “Eat Them While They Sleep” shows a lot of control and skilled string nuances, with the bass lower in the mix to create a smooth undertone. Reminiscent of that same Steven Wilson influence comes the avant-garde/jazz section towards the end of this song, which arises once again with an even stronger presence throughout “Old Friend.” The percussion is all over the place (in a damn good way), switching from blast to groove with radical drum fills. Transitions in these songs take the listener from a place of loud noise to a peaceful fantasy realm, as if it were the switch of a dream. The switch between various musical passages and the abrupt transitions make you continuously stop and ask “how did I get here?” And with that, what Warforged manages to do exceptionally well on I: Voice is create an extreme musical terrain for listeners to immerse themselves in.

It makes sense that I: Voice is a project that took roughly five years to put together. Considering the actual writing process and rehearsal of such thoughtful and detailed songs is one thing, but considering the amount of eminent guest spots on the album is a whole other monster. Renowned musicians including Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts), Christian Münzner (Alkaloid), Dan Gargiulo (Revocation) and many more, contribute segments to I: Voice. That said, the band have put together an eclectic collection of songs that will have genre debaters chattering for quite awhile and an album that will surely make everyone’s year end list. The various characteristics ranging from the ominous progressions to the technical death metal excellence are presented in a way that is very unique to the creative force behind this project. What Warforged presents with I: Voice is a package deal that includes not only an intense listening experience driven by potently personal storytelling, but also very intricate and technical songwriting that brings those stories to life.

Purchase I: Voice by Warforged HERE!