Lullwater have tried something new when it comes to the making of their latest offering. While the last two albums were recorded direct to analog tape to provide the sound they wanted, this time around they chose to go digital. This afforded them greater flexibility during the recording process at Marigny Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana. Recorded a little over a year ago, you would never guess these 11 tracks have been sitting on the shelf, waiting for the right moment to share them with the world. As a result, Voodoo is an outstanding representation of all their hard work.
Immediately, Curtain Call provides the most interesting musical intro on the album and the eerie build-up of screeching sounds is representative of a machine awakening. As the song changes tempo, the listener plunges head first into the raucous offering that stays at a heavy, pounding pace. More than halfway through the song, the addition of strings adds an even more ominous overtone. In fact, the entire album is full of intriguing musical arrangements. Not to mention, extensive guitar work, which is to be expected when both John Strickland (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and Daniel Binnie (lead guitar) are steering the ship.
Dark Divided, another monster, harnesses the energy of the album and holds its own as part of a three song opener that really packs a punch. Empty Chamber, the first single from Voodoo, is a well-rounded example of what Lullwater has to offer this time around. Looking for killer guitar riffs and heavy bass lines? They got it. Want melodic verses broken up by an aggressive chorus followed by hard hitting drums that perfectly mimic the overall vibe of the song? They bring it. The back half of this song has such an urgency to it, you can’t help but jump on board and ride out the rest of the album. (Watch video below)
A more interesting element to some songs on this album is the addition of an instrument you probably aren’t expecting. Similar Skin, with its upbeat opening has a surprise in store during the latter part of the song. That’s right, the addition of horns. While on paper it might sound strange, it serves the song in all the right places. While This Life features extremely chaotic drumming from Joseph Wilson, Godlike’s main take away is the vast amount of guitar playing going on within the song. Add to it the impact of bassist Roy ‘Ray’ Beatty’s playing and you have one, chunky, slow chugging and noteworthy piece of work.
Buzzards, with its soaring guitar work, appears to be the divide between the vigorous pace of the first part of the album and the more free-spirited sounding last few songs. While there is a noticeable shift in tempo and the songs are less aggressive, that’s not a bad thing. Fight Of Your Life has such a massive sound and the horns really help to give it a bit of an anthemic vibe. However, it’s when you stop to listen to the lyrics, that the song really takes the listener to the next level, “Hang on it’ll be alright, stand strong through the darkest of your night, the day will warm your soul.”
Even though I felt Into The Sun had a groove unlike any other song on the album, it’s definitely one that stays with you. I will admit, Yellow Bird took a few listens before I really appreciated the nature of this song. However, after listening to the lyrics, I feel there is a much deeper story here. As if the lyrics just scratch the surface. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but hey, lyrics are usually up for different interpretations, right? Although I may never know, this line continues to stand out, “Live your life before your love is gone. I’ll be here when you fly back home.”
Ten minutes. Ten minutes and 15 seconds to be exact. Suffer Not is the longest and last song on the album and also happens to have the slowest opening arrangement. By the time you’re up to the one-minute mark, you may suddenly feel you’ve momentarily skipped to another song. However, the calming notes of a string instrument and the lullaby like vocals cradle you back into the vibe you initially felt. While the song continues on an up and down musical roller coaster, you can’t help but become hooked on the story telling.
“Wasting away, never feel, never felt like this before,
I’m living today, now I feel, now I feel alive and more.”
Overall, the underlying string portions really help sell the emotion in this one. Deep, dark, and at the appropriate time, menacing. It’s an element in the song that you didn’t even know you wanted. Approaching the eight minute mark, the pace really starts to escalate. This song takes you on such a journey, you don’t even realize how long you’ve been listening. While Lullwater have a firm grasp on songs of standard length, when they step out of those normal boundaries, they tend to come away with something epic. (See also Broken Wings from Revival.)
With every listen of Voodoo, I found there was always something comforting about the tone of Strickland’s vocals. Something very familiar, yet truly a sound all his own. Once you dive deep into this record, you will have a clear understanding of where they stand in their career, what they want out of this album and what they hope the listener will take away from it all. Voodoo is riveting, powerful, at times relentless and full of so many layers. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.