Album of the Year 2018 – Number 11

Welcome to the latest instalment of my Album of the Year 2018 top 30 countdown. It’s the last post before I hit the magic top 10. Again, a big thanks for showing your support throughout this series, keeping me going when I could have easily thrown in the towel.

I never like choosing a band to sit in the number 11 spot as it feels a bit like ending fourth at the Olympics – so near yet so far. But someone has to end up in 11th and today’s the day to unveil my choice.

As always, if you’ve missed any of my previous posts, head down to the bottom of this post to check out the links for numbers 30-12.

And with that, here goes…

Number 11:

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Vola
‘Applause of a Distant Crowd’
Mascot Label Group
Score of Much Metal: 9.75

Being a one-man website, a one-man with a full-time career and young family to support, there is only so much time that I can devote to my music. I wish it was more, but alas, I have to bean adult sometimes. It was because of this lack of time and a failure to tune my radar correctly that I only reviewed this incredible album around six weeks ago. It was released back in October but I simply missed it first time round.

And it is partly because of this recent acquaintance that ‘Applause of a Distant Crowd’ finds itself just missing out on a top 10 position. With so many other records making an indelible mark on me earlier in the year, Vola came just a little too late to muscle into the top third of this year’s list. That said, for a record to achieve 11th place in such a short period of time is testament to just how brilliant it is.

The Swedish/Danish band describe their own output as “a mix of 70’s style progressive rock, electronica, industrial and metal, topped off with clear, beautiful vocal lines” and that’s a pretty accurate description, even if it does only tell part of the story.

You see, this is one of those records that is able to flaw me with a combination of technicality, originality, warmth and beautiful melody. Like Lux Terminus’ debut, this is a record that is just so rich, delicate and devastatingly sumptuous. Almost every song beguiles me, to the point where I frequently change my mind as to which is my favourite song. And I love that.

I suspect that the longer I live with this record, the more I will discover and the greater my affection will inevitably become. That’s another clear strength and it is just a shame that I didn’t get hold of this album sooner. One thing is for sure: I’ll not be late to the party next time because Vola are one the most exciting finds of 2018 for me.

To quote my review of 3 November 2018:

image

“…unlike the cover image of ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’ illustrates, I have not serenely and effortlessly found myself floating in a pool of crystal blue waters. Nope. Instead, I have fallen somewhat ungracefully head over heels, the myriad charms of this disc causing me to utter breathlessly on several occasions, ‘I love this music’. I am smitten…

…the song writing on this record is of the highest order, an issue that becomes very clear when you realise that the output here could have been a disjointed and ugly mess, where seemingly disparate ideas are forced together unwillingly in the pursuit of originality. Instead, ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’ flows beautifully, serenely and effortlessly both within individual songs and across the ten tracks collectively.

…when I listen to ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’, I am transported to another place; a place that is calm, relaxed and exceedingly warm, rich and beautiful. At times, Vola are incredibly heavy thanks to the injection of some crushing djent-like riffs, bruising beats and a gurgling and rumbling bass. Just take ‘Whaler’ as the perfect example, which has all the subtlety of a tank to begin with, steadily and inexorably crushing all in its path. And yet, as the track develops, quiet moments of quiet introspection are injected, and there’s even room for a glorious melodic chorus that briefly changes the tone from ominous to seductive and irresistible in the blink of an eye.

The thing is, everywhere you turn on this record, you’re greeted with something that charms, intrigues, challenges or simply makes you feel instantly better about life. That’s a rare trait and one that I don’t attribute lightly.

I cannot believe that it has taken me so long to fall for the charms of Vola, for they are a special band that have managed to produce on ‘Applause Of A Distant Crowd’, some of the most challenging and original yet beautifully elegant and sophisticated music that I have heard all year. All I want to do when the album finishes is listen to it all over again.”

Read the full review here.

If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:

Album of the Year 2018 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30

If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:

Album of the Year 2018 – EPs and Compilations

And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years:

Album of the Year 2017
Album of the Year 2016
Album of the Year 2015
Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

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