Much has changed for Volumes in the three years that have passed since the release of their sophomore effort, No Sleep. With the departure of vocalist Michael Barr and a newfound home at Fearless Records, the California group are back with more djent-y metalcore for the masses.
"Waves Control" commences the album on a predictably good foot. Heavy guitar tone and breakdowns galore provide a neutral backdrop for the intense vocal delivery of Gus Farias and new addition Mike Terry (ex-Bury Your Dead frontman). Terry's scream/sing diversity upstages the band throughout the album, notably on the first single, "Feels Good."
The band's worst impulses need reining in, though. When Volumes have a good chorus on their hands ("Finite"), it's good enough to compete with modern pop radio, but the lazy, forced chorus in "Pieces" sounds impatient. And post-"Interlude," the songwriting takes a messy turn. The hip-hop influence in "Hope" is cheesy, even if Terry's clean vocals make the discomfort (barely) pass, but "On Her Mind" sounds like everything society collectively hated about nu-metal. Rapper Pouya's feature feels unnecessary, evoking the worst of Limp Bizkit.
Amidst the album's finer moments is the chorus of "Pullin' Shades," a song that desperately squeezes in heavy elements, even though the melodic side of Volumes is what really shines. Terry's singing carries the band to new heights throughout, but it often sounds like the other members don't want to admit it. The record concludes with "Left for Dead," the heaviest song of the bunch, and though it'll leave longtime fans of the band somewhat satisfied, those enjoying the nu-urban influence will be confused.
Different Animals digests like a bad sandwich. The bread on the outside is familiar, but the core reeks of decades-old cheese. (Fearless)