Archive for February, 2013

Feb 20th 2013 Target Earth review on by Alex

Progressive thrash. Dissonance. Minor chords. Odd signatures. Distorted bass. Canadian. Voivod. Any questions?

Truth be told, I was extremely late to the Voivod party. While Voivod was conquering outer space with their quirky sense of rhythm and structure, I was but a wee lad still addicted to Bay Area thrash. And by the time I developed an ear for anything even remotely labeled as progressive, Denis “Piggy” D’Armour, the band’s lead guitarist and heart and soul, had already tragically lost his fight with colon cancer. After Piggy’s death in 2005, I had written off Voivod as dead. Well, I was thankfully wrong, since here we are, 8 years later, with a reinvigorated line-up and their sixteenth full length release, Target Earth.

Just to be absolutely crystal clear, it’s not possible to replace a singular talent like Piggy. But after a few minutes into this record, it’s quite obvious that new lead guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain has done his homework, as he really captures the essence of Piggy-era Voivod: Mind-boggling riffs and odd time signatures are found in every nook and cranny of this album, almost ad nauseam. Couple that with the return of Jean-Yves “Blacky” Thériault’s iconic bass playing, and Target Earth might just be their best work since 1993′s Outer Limits.

I can’t really imagine a better way to start this record off than with opener “Target Earth.” After a few seconds of establishing an alien dial-up connection, Blacky lays down a massive bass chug that just oozes classic Voivod. Denis “Snake” Bélanger’s trademark hardcore punk vocals soon follow and sound marvelous. In fact within the first few minutes, I am confident that most long time fans will be sold hook, line and sinker on this record’s pedigree. Of course, you still won’t be prepared for Chewy’s incredibly off beat solo at around the 3:45 mark that just launches this song into outer orbit. Do not miss. “Kluskap O’Korn” begins with what sounds like an older gentlemen having a seizure, before Michel “Away” Langevin makes his presence known with some groovy drum work. The track has a spastic pace to it as Blacky and Chewy constantly fight for your eardrum’s attention, either through an out right breakdown or some kind of fill between Snake’s frantic singing.

This whole album is filled with one highlight after another. The third track, “Empathy for the Enemy,” has Voivod going Japanese (“I really think so”) for the first few minutes as a shamisen provides the introductory melody before they re-enter Canadian space. Snake’s vocals have a more subdued tone and for the first time thus far, the riffs are more straightforward allowing you to just rock out. Don’t fret, because the next track, “Mechanical Mind,” is a seven and a half minute all out spacey romp with Chewy providing some mind blowing riffage mid-way through. “Warchaic” is in the same vein as “Target Earth” and “Resistence” for at least its first half, is all out punk. The album really never loses steam as “Kaleidos,” the very French “Corps Etranger,” and “Artefact,” all provide various twists and turns on this strange roller coaster ride, never ever leaving you bored. If there is one gripe I have, its that the last track, “Defiance,” is a short minute and half medley that really feels like an incomplete song. I am not sure why they had to end this album this way, but hey, that’s Voivod.

Target Earth was mixed by Sanford Parker and mastered by Colin Jordan of the Boiler Room. This mix is classic Voivod through and through. Blacky’s bass really shines from start to finish in spite of Jordan’s quest for loudness. Parker did a superb job of maintaining the balancing act between the technical guitar wizardry and Snake’s inspired vocal performance. After listening and reviewing several Jordan masters, I have come to the following conclusion: the man clearly knows what he is doing, but I suspect is playing the “good soldier” – appeasing bands by mastering loud so they can stay “competitive” within their respective label roster. As a result, there is no clipping to speak of despite the brickwall, each track has been compressed to the very limit before distortion ensues. The biggest victim of course is Away’s drums which are just lifeless and feel somewhat artificial. In the end, I believe the band wanted to capture that old school punk rawness found on many of the classic albums, but with a modern twist. On at least that front, they succeeded, but at a cost.

Voivod once again reaffirms their position as progressive thrash titans, as Target Earth is a fantastic addition to an already impressive body of work. Act now and pick up the limited edition box set which looks fantastic – I know I did! Highly recommended.

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Feb 12th 2013 Metal Wani review “Target Earth” by Sairaj Kamath

Sorry Grim Reaper, but your dastardly plan to destroy Voivod has failed. Even years after the unfortunate passing of the great Denis D’Amour, Voivod has risen above the whispers of uncertainty and doubt to release some fantastic proggy-thrash metal goodness to soundtrack their post-apocalyptic science fiction world depicted in Target Earth. Technically their first original work after the laudable cut-and-paste job of Infini, this album also marks the debut of guitarist Daniel Mongrain and bassist Jean-Yves Theríault, who gel fantastically with the band to make Voivod sound as great or greater than they’ve ever been.

The opening title track tries a little too hard here with it’s constant tempo and time signature shifts, even with it’s classic Voivod sound. But don’t worry, because the second track “Kluskap Okom” powers through with some charging vocals, bass, drums and some awesomely trippy riffage. Funnily enough, It’s intro sounds like a marching tribe of pigs.

From there, Target Earth takes us on a wild ride into the violent world of sci-fi autocracy. The best thing is that there is a strong vibe of Dimension Hatröss and Nothingface, Voivod’s two penultimate classics, coming off the music here. But at the same time the band doesn’t hold back on the reins, one example being the great number of intros laden with rich keyboard and sound effects that start off many of the songs here like “Mechanical Mind” and “Warchaic”. The spacey melodic vocals of Denis Belanger, the battering drums of Michel Langevin, the bone-rattling bass of Jean-Yves Theríault and the fantastically “jazz-oid” riffs & dissonant chords of Daniel Mongrain all culminate in the most liberal and relentless progressive-thrash metal attack that Voivod has ever hit us with. Mongrain in particular has proved himself a worthy replacement for Denis D’Amour.
Finally, the album ends on a high note with “Artefact” and “Defiance”. The former track has a blood-pumping intro of bass and drums which progresses into an addictive thrash-metal rhythm, and is poised to be a fan favorite. “Defiance” is much too short for this reviewer’s liking, but nevertheless it’s a great way to end an amazing album. All in all, Target Earth is a golden feather in Voivod’s cap and a breath of fresh air from the straightforward thrash or progressive metal which you would normally find. This just goes to show all those metal fans who thought Infini might be Voivod’s last: you really can’t keep a great band down.

Recommended Tracks: “Kluskap Okom”, “Resistance”, “Artefact”

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed By,
Sairaj Kamath

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Feb 4th 2013 Target Earth par Kristof G.

Enfin, un vrai de vrai album de nos plus célèbres prog-métalleux, après les albums posthumes qui suivirent le décès d’un des plus singuliers guitaristes que le métal ait connu, Denis « Piggy » D’Amour (1959-2005). Car, bien que Katorz (2006) et Infini (2009) rockaient tout de même assez bien, reste que ces albums ont été assemblés à partir de maquettes dépoussiérées de riffs de Piggy. Target Earth est donc le tout premier album studio du groupe avec Daniel «Chewy» Mongrain, qu’on peut aussi entendre sur l’album en concert Warriors of Ice (2011). Depuis déjà 5 ans, le leader de Martyr (présentement en pause) rend formidablement hommage à Piggy – l’une de ses principales influences ̶ en tant que guitariste de Voïvod.

On retrouve également et avec plaisir la grosse basse aussi fuzzée que vrombissante du bassiste original Jean-Yves «Blacky» Thériault (son premier depuis Angel Rat, paru en 1991). Depuis maintenant un petit moment, le présent alignement a atteint un niveau de cohésion réellement impressionnant, rappelant la formation d’antan, tant au niveau de l’énergie que des mélodies. Évidemment, on expérimente encore ici et là - voir l’inclusion de chants de gorge sur «Kluskap O’kom» et d’étranges bruits de foule sur «Resistance». Et la chanson titre, qui ouvre le disque, rappelle même par moment ce que font nos chéris de chez Mastodon, harmonies vocales mystérieuses à l’appui. Sérieux.

De son côté, Mongrain a su rester fidèle au patrimoine et au son souvent dissonant et si particulier de son modèle, tout en apportant heureusement sa touche personnelle. Ce gars-là sait dangereusement ce qu’il fait avec une six-cordes. Peu de gens auraient pu remplir le vide intersidéral laissé par le disparu guitariste. La recrue a surpassé les attentes et continue de livrer la marchandise au centuple. Comme son prédécesseur, Mongrain est un métallurgiste d’exception, puisant à même les plus grands du progressif : la pièce «Artefact» sonne comme du King Crimson futuriste.

Bref, on a droit ici à un album de (parfois prog) métal qui rock en sale. Oui messieurs-dames. Ce 13e album prouve qu’après 3 décennies d’épreuves (dont quelques tragédies), ce n’est clairement pas fini; la bande à Denis « Snake » Bélanger et Michel « Away » Langevin comme du bon vin, mûrit.

4.1 O.V.N.I.s gris métalliques sur 5

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Feb 4th 2013 Target Earth Review by Eduardo Rivadavia, Blabbermouth

Four years have passed since VOIVOD’s last album, “Infini”, and seven since the tragic demise of guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, but the Canadian progressive metal institution clearly has no plans of calling it a career.

No strangers to adversity, of course, the band has endured numerous lineup changes over the years (though, admittedly, none as traumatizing as Piggy’s demise), so while it clearly took them a little longer to regroup and move ahead via 2013’s eagerly anticipated “Target Earth”, one can say, in retrospect, that another VOIVOD album was as inevitable as an inbound, civilization-wiping mega-asteroid.

That’s right. You heard it here first: killer asteroids. Now where were we? Oh yes?

For this, VOIVOD’s thirteenth studio album, ever present drummer Michel “Away” Langevin and long reinstated vocalist Denis “Snake” Belanger managed the coup of dragging founding bassist, Jean-Yves “Blacky” Theriault out of retirement (replacing the headline grabbing, but creatively ineffectual Jason Newsted), making it three-out-of-four original VOIVOD-ers - the better to facilitate new guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain’s unenviable task of filling Piggy’s space boots. To his credit, Mongrain blends right in, and so too does “Target Earth” blend in with numerous portions of VOIVOD’s itinerant musical past, arguably making it the band’s first truly “regressive” - not “progressive” - album, and, as such, likely good news for the band’s oldest fans.

Well, not the oldest, since virtually none of its songs recall even traces of the wanton savagery that defined VOIVOD’s first three, avant-thrash efforts (maybe the biting riffs of “Corps Etranger”, the tribal drums of “Warchaic”); but rather their subsequent ‘golden period,’ beginning with 1988’s “Dimension Hatross”, culminating with the universally acclaimed “Nothingface” and universally debated “Angel Rat” (a brilliant, if divisive, musical adventure), and fading with ’93’s fatigued, uneven “The Outer Limits”.

As a result, the more linear portions of the title track and “Resistance” might momentarily recall “Angel Rat”, but the vast majority of these cuts - including world-beating standouts “Empathy for the Enemy” and “Mechanical Mind” - drink directly from the stimulating “Nothingface” wellspring: weaving deeper textures and unexpected riff and tempo changes into their notably expanded lengths (yes, most songs here notably average six or seven minutes).

As always, this particular course of songwriting action won’t please all VOIVOD fans - how could it? - but for an album facing such high stakes in the wake of the band’s often turbulent and more recently tragic history, the only verdict one can render weighs heavily in the Canuck quartet’s favor. With so many decades-old metal bands beating dead horses out there, instead of retiring with dignity, it’s truly refreshing to see VOIVOD forging onwards with dignity and creativity largely intact, whether progressing or regressing in progressive fashion.

- Eduardo Rivadavia

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