Being 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.
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.