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Voivod: Target Earth

The legendary Canadian metal act Voivod is, along with Watchtower, Realm and to some extent Antithesis, among the most innovative bands on the thrash scene, and, with their eclectic style which is situated somewhere in a borderland between thrash metal and progressive rock, Voivod have always made original music. The band has suffered the revolving door effect in their line-up, and in 2005 the band was struck by tragedy when their guitarist and main composer Denis "Piggy" D'Amour died from cancer. D'Amour was, with his inspiration from Rush, King Crimson and Pink Floyd, the band's main source when it came to the progressive and experimental side of their music, and their characteristic use of dissonant chords and unconventional song structures were largely courtesy of d'Amours deliberately chaotic approach to writing music.

Consequently, many fans feared that Voivod would never be the same again without him. And, no, it will probably never be quite the same, but on their Target Earth-album the Canadians show that Voivod still Voivod, and that they can still create unique progressive metal. Thus, the title track has an almost jazzy character at times (much the same way as the Pestilence's brilliant Spheres), while 'Kluskap O'Kom' has a slightly crusty sound combined with elements of speed-power metal. 'Empathy for the Enemy' features jazz-inspired progressive hard rock that sometimes crosses over into a King Crimson-inspired sound (along the lines of 'Lark's Tongue in Aspic'), while 'Mechanical Mind' is characterized by challenging, unconventional chords and offers on some pretty bridge passages. In Resistance' Voivod combine rhythms that are pretty much straightforward with more quirky chords and harmonies, and there is an interesting congruence-contrast relation between this and the following track 'Kaleidos' while 'Corps Etranger' combines the ethereal with the aggressive with a good deal of dissonance on top.

The production is tight and unpolished (but of course not lo-fi), and the dissonant elements and other oddities are allowed to shine through. The drums have a fat – nay, a phat – bottom, and the bass is distorted in the usual Voivod fashion. Dennis "Snake" Bélangers vocals have an almost grungy feel that gives the already experimental music an slight introspective touch, but he shows when he can easily provide more aggressive singing, if need be, as heard in parts of the quirky 'Warchaic'.

Voivod have always challenged their listeners, and they continue to do so do on this album. If you are not already a fan of progressive and quirky music, you might not be albe to handle this album, but fans of progressive and experimental music should definitely give Voivod's latest effort a spin, and fans of the band need not fear that Target Earth does not sound like Voivod - in fact, I think that d'Amour would be proud of the way the band carries on the Voivod spirit.

1. Target Earth
2. Kluskap O'Kom
3. Empathy for the Enemy
4. Mechanical Mind
5. Warchaic
6. Resistance
7. Kaleidos
8.Corps Etranger
9. Artefact
10. Defiance

Added: January 25th 2013
Reviewer: Kim Jensen
Related Link: Official website
Hits: 2844
Language: english

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Voivod: Target Earth
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-01-25 15:00:54
My Score:

The third Voivod release since the tragic death of the band's main songwriting force and guitarist Denis D'Amour (Piggy) finds the original (and reunited) trio of vocalist Denis Belanger (Snake), bassist Jean-Yves Theriault (Blacky) and drummer Michel Langevin (Away), again joined by guitarist Daniel Mongrain (Chewy), to build on the strength of 2009's Infini and once more present another master class in progressively challenging metal. A band known for throwing curveballs and refusing to either stay in any one place too long or provide anything close to "expected", Target Earth finds this now five year old line-up, as ever, pushing boundaries and experimenting while keeping things within a strong and rigid enough framework that self indulgence or for the sake of it "art" are not accusations that could stick. It seems churlish to make comparisons when a band has the lengthy legacy that Voivod do, but everything from doom metal to Killing Joke and King Crimson to Opeth or Cardiacs can be detected here. But hold on and wait a minute, let's remember that Voivod were trend setters, so they can sound like what they want and in truth whatever those results, the likes of Opeth are incorporating Voivod into their sound and definitely not the other way round.

Only occasionally does a 4/4 beat break out anywhere across the ten songs that make up Target Earth, with randomly placed snare shots pouncing and snarling at you from song to song. It is a real strength of the album and testament to Away that even this long down the line his percussive passages still sound freshly hewn and keenly marked out. However what makes the darting, unsettling "Kaleidos", the thumping pummel of "Kluskap O'Kom" and the almost industrially jazz "Warchaic" as uncomfortably seductive as they undoubtedly are, is the manner in which raging guitars, jarring bass and crazed yet controlled vocals all mesh with the crafty clatters and deafenings of percussion. In lesser hands these songs and their album mates would be unfocused meanderings full of bluster and posturing. Here however Voivod remain as far from self aggrandising as possible.

The production, while never less than pin-point leaves room for the energetic "Resistance" to breath in deep and "Artefact" to be as dirty as it is dramatic, the drums especially almost physically tumbling out of the speakers into a cacophonous mass on your lounge floor. It is near the edge stuff, but intentionally so and all the better for it.

With a sterling, ground breaking, underappreciated catalogue behind them, to suggest that Target Earth shows a different side to Voivod would be stretching things a bit. However this is one band never content to take the easy way out, or just knock one out for the sake of it. Meaning that long-time fans of the band will be left grinning and satisfied, while newcomers will find a band on the cutting edge, producing music that no one else is even really attempting. After thirty years together that is impressive and so is Target Earth.

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