Jan 16th 2013 05:20 pm Underlandonline.com : Voivod: Target Earth

For those of us who have been dedicated fans of Voivod, the untimely passing of Denis “Piggy” D’Amour was an unthinkable and tragic event. While I wasn’t initially a fan of their music the release of Killing Technology completely changed my opinion and having just started learning guitar around that time, what Piggy delivered musically completely had me rethinking my own style, an impact that I owe a great deal of gratitude for and I’m not ashamed to admit that his passing affected me greatly, filling me with a great deal of remorse.

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The fate of Voivod was in limbo after the release of Katorz and Infini which were created using what tracks Piggy had already laid down. Something changed within that nothingness however when Jean-Yves “Blacky” Thériault rejoined the band having departed in 1991 and in order to keep the music of Voivod alive as well as the memory of Piggy, Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain was added to the lineup as the bands new guitarist. This was of course met with skepticism by many longtime fans who couldn’t imagine Voivod with another guitarist but Chewy proved that he was more than capable of handling the duty and filling some rather big shoes. With this, you might assume that the tale would come to an end. Voivod would say a final, fond farewell to their fans, but that wasn’t to be. The announcement that the band was planning a new album was once again met with some cynicism but for most, the release of the first single, “Mechanical Mind,” silenced most who quickly realized that this was the Voivod old in many ways.

Target Earth marks the thirteenth album from Voivod and while the band has over the years strayed that the technical thrash sound which so many around the world became enthralled with, they have returned to their roots to some degree. Target Earth could be best thought of as an album which could fall anywhere between Killing Technology and Angel Rat although it unquestionably has the feeling of almost every album they have released over their lengthy career. While the album doesn’t have the very noisy, thrashing rage of their initial two releases, the heart and feeling which have been at the core of Voivod is present in such a way that many might feel that in fact the band had found some old riffs that Piggy had locked away and were only now recently unearthed.

The opening three songs, “Target Earth”, “Kluskap O’Kom” and “Empathy for the Enemy” sound like they would be perfectly at home on somewhere between Killing Technology and Nothingface. Chewy perfectly replicates Piggy’s trademark cacophony of guitar annihilation. The augmented chords and unique time signatures combined with Away’s driving beats, Snake’s sneering vocals and Blacky’s rumbling bass attack will make even the most doubtful take notice. Virtually every track on Target Earth is a savage cyber assault which more than embodies the memory of Piggy without compromise. It’s never clichéd or some cheap attempt to simply exploit the bands more popular releases. Instead it’s relentless, making certain that long time fans still remember the contributions of Piggy and understand that while he might be gone, his spirit still lives on.

As you explore further into Voivod’s biomechanical onslaught, the layers and complexities of the songs each manage to speak for themselves leaving rarely a bland moment through the course of Target Earth. There are some tracks such as “Warchaic” which I felt took a bit reach a good point musically and the song would fit in quite nicely among those tracks on Angel Rat while “Resistance” has more of a driving, metal rock feeling which puts it more in tune with the more recent Voivod releases of the past few years. In all honesty, I can’t find a single track on Target Earth that I don’t enjoy in some way. Much of that has to do with the musician in me who is listening for the intricacies interwoven into each song and there is always something which quickly has me flashing back to the first time I heard one of Voivod’s earlier albums or a riff might suddenly remind me of another song in their catalog. Target Earth is a musical time travel experiment which in so many ways has allowed me to relive the same enthusiasm I felt for Voivod in my youth and I feel that many others will find themselves experiencing the same thing.

Many have already proclaimed Target Earth to be the metal album of 2013 even before its release and they may very well be correct. Those who have felt that Mongrain being the replacement for Piggy would tarnish the legacy of Voivod are completely incorrect in this assessment. While it will never overshadow Killing Technology or Dimension Hatross which will stand as my personal favorites in Voivod’s body of work, Target Earth is perhaps the best album the band has released in quite some time. It’s time to prepare for the gasmask revival once again and raise your hands for the final slaughter.

-Mike

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