The main problem with London, the album, is the lack of London, the place. Ostensibly a concept album, Voices squander the opportunity to say something meaningful about a fascinating, difficult city or to draw musical inspiration from the sounds it has been making from the Clash through to Burial. The misogynistic streak in the lyrics doesn’t help either.
As a concept album about infidelity and artifice, London is too muddled to really satisfy. It’s a common enough trick: if you’re not confident enough in your prose then throw in ambiguity. Unreliable narrators! Multiple viewpoints! Pseudo-intellectual types eat. That. Shit. Up. Never mind that the story amounts to ‘a girl fucks somebody who isn’t the narrator because she’s empty inside (and like a total slut) and not because he’s a self-important emo-sogynist douche.’
Musically it’s a little better. It has changed little from the ornate, gothic blackened-death metal of Voices’ previous incarnation, Akercocke, except for the increased prominence of ambient excursions. Vocalist Peter Benjamin is hugely versatile, a crooner, screamer and roaring beast all at once. That said, you’ll want to be somewhere else during the sub-Rorschach from Watchmen monologues on how ugly the city is.
Every single metal review site on the planet has given this album 10/10.