Voïvod is an eminent Canadian underground/punk/thrash/progressive era band that have covered Astronomy Domine, The Nile Song and 21st Century Schitzoid Man, had Rush producer Terry Brown tweak their 1991 effort Angel Rat and has, during a slightly bad spell without former bassists Blacky or Eric Forrest, had Jason Newsted (from Metallica) as a member and, they’ve explored so many various interesting phases from the out and out futuristic Chrome-style cyber-space-thrash-punk album Killing Technology (1986) and the insanely gothic space assault like Phobos (1997) to more mellow psych/prog efforts like Angel Rat (1991) and The Outer Limits (1993). With an awesome cartoonist drummer leading the band, a la Christian Vander, named Away, who also does all the artwork and Voïvod comics for the band, they have an album which just came out in the wee month of January 2013 called Target Earth. More on the actual album a bit later in the article.
First: Voïvod is a band I rate very highly for the thrash genre, with an apocalyptic SF theme of a storyline continuing throughout all their albums, being concept albums about the warrior Voïvod and others like Korgull the Exterminator who come from a ravaged Earth in the future. Voïvod has travelled on and out into Space and beyond over the years a la Magma’s Kobaian mythos, a band they in many ways echo, also having French as their native language, and thus a funny sounding accented vocalist named Snake. Along with Celtic Frost, Fates Warning up to 1990, Iced Earth, Manilla Road, and early Tiamat amongst others, Voïvod pioneered and blurred the boundaries between early black metal, thrash and progressive and punk genres
And the new album? Not so sure. In fact I discussed for an hour or two with Away at Betong in Oslo before and after Voïvod played a night in 1997, our common love of Hawkwind and Magma and Van Der Graaf Generator and many other prog acts from the seventies we shared interest in, as they tend to cover cutting edge prog stuff like Floyd and Crimson, when not being cutting edge with their own material. They always have a good idea mapping a course for each album in their musical story of Voïvod and his adventures. That night guitarist Piggy (who passed away from cancer some years ago) played strings by firing off all kinds of sounds with a toy raygun on all the different modes onto his guitar strings. It was awesome. Check out the 1997 Phobos CD for those crazy sounding experiments. A true art band if there ever was one! So, since Piggy’s death they hired a new guitarist called Chewy who fills in rather nicely. Jason Newsted has been dispatched from the mothership to join Eric Forrest on the ex-member prison planet, only to be replaced by a returned Blacky.
And the result? I have to say my opinion of the new album falls somewhere between being underwhelmed yet satisfied, expecting something not so mindblowing as their older material. Their last CD, Infini from 2009 had some quality stuff and showed Voïvod were still a creative and vital act in an otherwise bleak metal landscape filled with Emo, symphonic and stoner and other modern upstart genres generally filled with poseurs too young to even have been born when Voïvod released their first album, the excellent War And Pain in 1983. Target Earth chugs along nicely without much notice. It’s good, it just does not possess much melodic or progressive qualities, almost as if the band has decided for a simple and less complex approach, and each song just moves on in a similar fashion. Not the feast I expected upon Blacky’s return, there is just some elements missing. A standout track can be found amongst the bonus tracks on the deluxe CD, namely Man in the Trees from Roadburn Fest.
I recommend Target Earth only to those familiar with the band already, but not as a starting point to check out the band. Set forth and sample the previously mentioned albums in this article, and take exploration from there. But, thank whomever is your deity, that we still have Voïvod after 30 years in existence.
For more info, visit: http://www.voivod.com
Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford