voivod-postsocietyBeing old means you keep a lot of crap and not just what’s clogging your colon. I still have the issue of Unchain the Underground (as referenced in my last review) where I lambasted Voivod‘s Angel Rat, an album that was like a poison-tipped arrow to my heart of steel at the tender age of 16. Back then running a blog meant the grind of plunking everything out on a typewriter, cutting and pasting ads and pictures, using White Out to fix spelling errors, photocopying and stapling. That gave me more time to sit with releases than I ever get with the quick turnaround required in this digital era. Now I make a point of going back and listening to albums I reviewed long after publication to see if time and distance changed anything. A quarter of a century later and having listened to it countless times, I feel essentially the same way about Angel Rat now that my nuts have dropped below my knees as I did before they dropped at all.

Voivod went on to redeem themselves with the more adventurous The Outer Limits, Snake departed, Eric Forrest came aboard and they re-discovered their rage at the expense of finesse on Negatron, then perfected the blend of psychedelia and psychosis on Phobos – to date, one of their finest and most underrated releases. Forrest was out after a debilitating van accident, Newstead came in, the profile went up and the heaviness went down. We tragically lost Piggy, then the posthumous release of Infini was a dark but welcome bated breath of heaviness. Their first release with Chewy (Daniel Mongrain of fellow Cannucks Martyr), Target Earth, firmly re-established Voivod in their former glory. Mongrain could emulate Piggy’s style and, as a band, Voivod were able to pen music not only as challenging to listen to as their most abrasive but as, if not more, sophisticated and heavy. What I perceived as missteps in their discography (along with the tragedies they endured) were necessary for Voivod to come full circle on Post Society. At a mere 30 minutes, this EP packs as much punch as a full length, such is the strength of this material.

voivod

The title track opens with a punkish bass riff that could be off War and Pain or RRROOOAAARRR and from there they run through the finest moments of their discography with a vitality that many of the middle-era albums lacked. Voivod have more in common with timeless bands like Rush, The Police and U2 than most of their contemporaries in that each instrument is a distinct voice rather than a brute force when combined. This is most evident on “Fall,” where new bassist Rocky (Dominic Laroche) shines, playing melodic runs among and along with the riffs,  weaving in and out tastefully. This may be the most solemn and emotional Voivod have ever sounded, slowly building to an exchange between guitar and bass at just shy of the three minute mark that’s so catchy it’ll give you a cold sore. The solo is breathtaking in its beauty and virtuosity. During the closing passage of the song, Mongrain pays homage to his predecessor by mimicking the guitar part from “Sub Effect” off Nothingface, and then fills the shoes with cement by taking it into even more astral realms. His hands and chops are better than Piggy’s, but can you say he is a better guitarist than his predecessor? No more than you can say a modern death metal band like Necrophagist are better than Possessed in their prime.

Always distinct, Snake’s voice is breathtaking in the last minute of “Forever Mountain” as the band suddenly drops out and he croons, “So here we are, on the roof of the world” in a beautifully seasoned rasp. Like a metallic Kris Kristofferson, he has far from the best voice in the multiverse, but fuck damn does he know how to sing. Away, the one constant member of the band, was once a maniacal pugilist but age and experience have crafted him into an innovative yet controlled drummer and the cover art may be his best yet. In keeping with their constant vision of the future, Voivod covered Hawkwind‘s “Silver Machine” to close out the EP not in tribute to Lemmy’s passing but in advance of it. The production is dense, dark and dead on, and like that bleak cover art, captures the mood of the music perfectly.

Post Society finds Voivod in their prime after 35 years and is testament to how singularly unique they are. No other band sounds like them. None ever will. They have set the table for their next platter to be perhaps their finest and I am voraciously eager to digest it.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 8| Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: voivod.net | www.facebook.com/voivod/
Releases Worldwide: February 26th, 2016

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Never heard of the band before today, but liking what I’m hearing. The fact that these guys have been around as a band twice as long as I have been alive is quite amazing. Fantastic review, Al! Time to make my way through their discography!

    • Diego Molero

      “Nothingface” is one of their most famous and best albums, really good. I say you should start with that one

      • Interesting to hear which Voivod albums are held in high esteem by different people – the UK metal press always tout Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross as the essential Voivods.

        Wonderful band.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Nothing Face is probably my favourite, but dimension Hatross is not far behind neither is target earth.

        • André Snyde Lopes

          I’d actually say start with Angel Rat. As incredible as the music is on Technology, Hatross or Nothingface, the vocals pre-Angel Rat are really bad and distracting (at least to me). On Angel Rat, Snake finally got his act together. I have learned to tolerate the vocals and bad production of the early records but for a long while I could barely stand listening to them.

        • And the UK metal press would be right. The fact that I’m English has nothing to do with this comment. Honest.

        • Diego Molero

          Well to be honest I say Nothigface because it was the first one I listend to, but It is a wonderful album too, and indeed a wonderful band.

        • My favorite Voivod album is RRROOOAAARRR. Maybe because it’s the first one I heard, but they just sound dangerous and unhinged on that one like no other band.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I would say nothing face too, but mostly because it was where I got on…amazing album

    • eloli

      Start with Target Earth.
      After that, move towars Killing Technology, Dimension Hatross and Nothingface, in that order.
      After that, listen to Negatron and The Outer Limits.
      Finally, work your way through War and Pain, Rooooaaaaaarrrr, Phobos, Voivod, Katorz, Infini and Angel Rat.
      IMO, this order will give you an accurate picture both of their core sound, different eras and best works.

    • Bas

      Start with The Outer Limits ;-)
      Neh, I agree with eloli its a good Idea to
      start with Target Earth or this EP, then go back to Nothingface or The
      Outer Limits. From there go on to Negatron, Killing Technology and War
      and Pain. Then the rest, depending on your taste or mood.

      Al’s description of voivods development in this review will give you a good idea about what you can expect for most albums. For me the
      only less interesting albums are Voivod, Katorz and Infini (the lyrics
      bother me a bit and they are overall just less exciting). I do like
      Angel Rat though, its catchy…

    • Killing Technology, then Nothingface and Dimension Hatross.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        Dang, the AMG community are onto it. Killing Technology, Nothingface, and Dimension Hatross seem to be the primary contenders so I will be starting with those! Thanks so much guys!

      • Nothingface over Dimension Hatross? What madness is this? It’s taken me absolutely years to finally develop an appreciation for Voivod, but Nothingface and Angel Rat continue to elude me. It’s me isn’t it? Dammit. :(

        On a more serious note, I’d add Target Earth to the list as it is excellent, and a damn fine introduction to the current Chewy era of Voivod.

    • Thanks! I say start at the beginning with War and Pain. Give each album a few spins, then move on to the next to really appreciate their evolution.

  • Diego Molero

    Two 4.5 in one day? Hell yeah!

  • Aaron

    Thanks for the review. Really looking forward to listening it to it when it arrives, and while I totally agree with you that Phobos is one of their underrated best, I really like most of the songs on Angel Rat.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Fuck yeah!

  • Iliast

    This track is unbelievably good. I am excited about Voivod again…for the first time since Nothingface.

    • If you haven’t heard Phobos, or didn’t dig it at first listen, give it another spin. It was overlooked by many because Snake wasn’t on it but it’s a great album.

  • Name’s Dalton

    Off topic, but has anyone checked out the box set of Craw material called 1993 – 1997? One of the more unheralded yet influential underground bands of the past 25 years. I was a fan back in the day, and have this material in other formats, but I bought it through bandcamp because fuck me did the guy behind the project go all out. anyway, back to Voivod…

    • I am checking out Craw now. How did the world miss this??

      • Name’s Dalton

        Well you certainly weren’t the only one. It was a special time in the Midwest underground, with fertile scenes flourishing in Chicago, Madison/Milwaukee, St Louis and in Minneapolis, and to a lesser extent, Cleveland (craw, stoner doom mailers Keelhaul, and others).

        The craw box set comes with a meticulously curated zine replete with numerous interviews, show posters (most done by none other than Derek Hess, who booked craw at Euclid Tavern at the band’s naseance), etc. As a former zone guy (I co-published pok magazine and then Copper Press), this hits close to home on both a fan level (I loved craw) and on an empathetic one (I know the passion and time it takes to put together something like this).

        If you like Ulcerate, Pyrrhon, and bands of that ilk, check out craw.

        Actually, if you are a fan of Pyrrhon, check out STNNNG and US Maple. Not metal, but they push the boundaries of music and are unique as fuck.

      • Name’s Dalton

        Listening to Craw on Bandcamp try to cover Dazzling Killmen (I write “try” because they keep starting over and jokingly bitch about the song and its originators). I mention this because Dazzling Killmen was an absolute beast – the first band since the early Dead Kennedys albums when I was younger to flat-out in a sense scare me. I bought the “Medicine Me” 7″ from Skin Graft Records and was floored and made uneasy by the visceral aural terror to which I was submitting myself. Check them out.

  • Alex Benedict

    “so catchy it’ll give you a cold sore”
    even when he likes a project, he’s still got the lines.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I loved Target Earth it was my equal favourite album in 2013 (Gorguts coloured Sands was the other), and Ive just recently been listening to it a fair bit in readiness for this. I can’t help but marvel at how unique and interesting these guys are and have always been.
    I love that like FNM last year they’ve come out with a short punchy album. 30 minutes is an album IMO
    Cant wait to listen to this!

    • André Snyde Lopes

      I with ya. The world needs more 30 minute “EP’s” and less 100 minute double albums.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        Then you got bands like Spectral Lore dropping a 50 minute “EP”.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          That’s just silly! I think 50 mins is a bit long for an album.
          An Ep should be 15-20 minutes just too long for a single.

    • That Gorguts album is a jaw dropper. Have you heard their new tune? It’s insanely good. I love that the FNM was that short as well. Just enough!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Not yet I’ll be patient and wait to hear it in context of its album :)

    • Considering Target Earth was just shy of a full hour, we can count this as an EP I think.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Picked this up on bandcamp last night it and have already given it a couple of spins…which is a good thing about 30min albums :).
        Silver Machine, even if not intended is a great tribute to Lemmy. They really are something else!

  • Innit Bartender

    Featuring Rush, Hawkwind and Kris Kristofferson, this review wins the “2016 Best Name-dropping Award” so far!
    Shame about the inclusion of that abysmal Irish band…
    It seems Voivod are fully coherent with their “covers as if drawn by amateur kids” style…

    • Funny, the Kristofferson comparison came from a conversation I had with some guys while at a bar in West Palm Beach, Florida with my wife on vacation two weeks back. I overheard two older (even than me) fellas talking about having seen Zappa and Hendrix, which was impossible not to hear considering there were only five of us in there, and naturally had to chime in on any music talk. We got on to old country and I told them about having seen Kristofferson at the Johnny Cash public memorial in Nashville. This guy walks over and shows me a picture of him with Kris on his phone and I said, “Kristofferson may not have the best voice in the world, but holy shit, he knows how to sing.”

      • Innit Bartender

        Sounds like you had a great time!
        I can’t pretend to know Kristofferson’s songbook very well, although I always thought that “Jesus was a Capricorn” is a damn great title for a song.
        It’s so good to me to find all these different, “classic” remarks in a metal review, it really adds so much, more than “they sound like a mix of Rhinocheros, Keflavykyum, Oysterbodium and Mazinkaiserfeth”.
        But maybe it’s just I’m an old guy…

  • Red Polygon

    Good review, though I disagree with your conclusions about Angel Rat. Brilliant, unconventional album that has more in common with this new EP than I think you realize.

    Angel Rat, despite its attempt at a commercial sound, was also an extreme statement of defying convention. To me, as a fan of many types of music, that was more invigorating than just Nothingface II or doing what they’d done earlier. Most heavy music these days is boring and predictable, with bands afraid to tread outside a narrow set of genre expectations. Voivod’s done it all, including that melodic, accessible, and catchy record. I both respect and enjoy that.

    Your original review suggests how you overlooked this. Where’s the adventure?, you asked. But just a few lines earlier, you call the sound “very hard to describe”. What’s more adventurous than the thing you don’t understand? They went somewhere that confused almost everybody. *That’s* adventure. The main problem with Angel Rat seems to be the fans’ unwillingness to let themselves enjoy a different approach that differs from how it’s “supposed” to be.

    But cheers to everyone having their own favorite slice of Voivod, and enjoying this terrific new EP.

    • I very much appreciate your point. I have wondered if my dislike for Angel Rat stems from the punch in the gut it was to me as a kid and I was never able to get over that. I was a lot angrier about it as a 16 year old than I would be now, but still, can’t get into the album, much as I have tried. Thanks for the input! Stuff like this is what makes AMG so great.

      • Red Polygon

        My comments probably suggested that anyone who dislikes the record is wrong – please excuse that, it was just my fandom for the record speaking! I certainly have cases like yours, where I’ve given an “off” album by a favorite band more chances and it just never clicks with me. I’ve wondered if the problem is me, but that still doesn’t help make the album click. So I understand where you’re coming from (and I also have my own share of disappointed-16-year-old moments).

        Cheers to you for covering this band, and for your long-term dedication to the music – I think we both agree they’re making some exceptional stuff now!

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I have an enduring hatred for Metallica’s Black album and all the albums (even ones I’ve not heard) after it for similar reasons.
        I never saw Angel rat as a sell out though more that they were just doing something different, which is what they had always done.

        • In my pubescent angst, I saw them as sellouts. Age and wisdom I no longer feel that way, but still can’t get into the album. While it was something different for them, for the first time I felt they were writing music other bands could have come up with as opposed to that otherworldly Voivodness.

  • Blueberry Balls

    I was never a huge Voivod fan, but this is a ball-crusher right here.

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    There was a thread a wee while ago about what band would be worthy of another career retrospective. I was hoping for Voivod, in anticipation of this release, but it seems you have managed to cover the full discography in one fell swoop. Respect!

    I got involved at nothingface, equally loved angel rat, but over the years I have probably returned to the outer limits most (Jack Luminous is unadulterated genius! ).

    Really looking forward to this CD.

  • HMG

    Yup excellent!

  • krisdaschwab912

    This EP inspired me to look into more Voivod, what with my only other experience with Voivod coming in the form of Guitar Hero II. Some great stuff right here.