I’m a sucker for 80s hard rock and heavy metal. Had I been born a generation earlier, I’d likely be the long-haired guy in the crowd rockin‘ a sleeveless denim jacket covered in band patches and holding up the lighter I’d bought earlier in the night just for the purpose of giving “Winds Of Change” a proper salute. I suppose that’s what drew me to VOICES OF EXTREME’s (VOX, for short) newest album Break The Silence. This isn’t the first time the album has seen the light of day, originally being released in 2011 on the Metalville record label. However, it returns Nov. 1 under a new roof, Smash-Mouth Records, this time with two previously unreleased tracks for your added listening pleasure.
VOX is no stranger to the music scene. All of its members have had extensive experiences in which they’ve honed their brand of hard rock. Between the four of them, they’ve played with members of MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, THIN LIZZY, IRON MAIDEN, and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, not to mention touring with other celebrated and talented groups. Coming off the tail of their debut album, Hypocrite from 2005, Break The Silence is filled with hard rockers and power ballads that are bound to please. Blending a healthy dose of 1980s metal with a distinctly modern crunch, the band manages to capture a spirit of years gone by without sounding dated. For instance, vocalist Don Chaffin reminds me of the SCORPIONS’ Klaus Meine and SYMPHONY X/ADRENALINE MOB’s Russell Allen, conveying the former’s tone with the latter’s ability to switch between smooth and gritty vocals seamlessly.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been listening to this album for nearly three weeks, and the entire first week I was unknowingly previewing the release with the tracklisting out of order. Much to the merit of the songs, however, it flowed surprisingly well in terms of mood – though it’s even better when heard the way it was intended. Beginning with the heavy hitter, “Damned”, the album navigates back and forth between grooving riffs and wide-open heart wrenchers. Tracks like “Tell Me What It Takes” and “More Than Anything” are perfect examples of 80s throwback ballads, with intimate verses and anthemic choruses. I can envision the music video now, each member playing by candlelight in an otherwise empty room, interspersed with clips of the band in front of a stadium filled with people who are all singing along and playing air guitar. Okay, that may be a bit too cheesy for these guys … Meanwhile, rockers like “Apocalypse” settle into a darker tone and steamroll over you. The inclusion of the two newest songs were a great idea – mainly because they’re fantastic – and really take the record to heights it wouldn’t have seen the first time around.
VOX’s Break The Silence was instantly to my liking. It managed to capture a spirit and style of music I grew up with and loved without making me feel nostalgic in the process. And while there are some production issues I noticed on my exploration of this release, they hardly put a dent in the quality of the songs. I can safely say that at least half of these tracks could be radio hits, which is a beautiful thing because not one of these songs sound the same. My favorite parts of the album, and where I feel the band really excels, are its ballads. Every one is powerful and moving, with each instrument getting the chance to open up, making just enough space for you to fall in. VOX has the talent and potential to take the world by storm and Break The Silence is a great record for doing so.