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Voivod: Katorz

By now most of you know the sad story-Voivod's pioneering guitar player and leader, Dennis "Piggy" D'Amour, passed away from colon cancer in August of 2005. His loss was tragic, as not only had this unique and talented musician touched the world with his skills and creativity as a musician, but most who knew him have stated that he was just an overall wonderful human being. Up to the time of his death, Piggy was working on a slew of songs that he had recorded complete guitar part to, which after his passing the remaining members of Voivod decided to then record their parts around and complete the ultimate tribute to the late guitarist. Singer Denis "Snake" Belanger, drummer Michel "Away" Langevin, bassist Jason "Jasonic" Newsted, along with producer Glen Robinson, would all put their minds and talents together to create Katorz (their first on The End Records), a very strong and focused album that utilized all of Piggy's guitar parts and ultimately perhaps became something even more special than the surviving members had originally imagined. Katorz is not the thrash metal beast that some of the early Voivod material was, nor is it the sci-fi soaked progressive metal of the bands mid-90's repertoire. Instead, this album is a fast paced, punky mix of hard rock and metal anthems, sort of like a combination of early Motorhead, The Sex Pistols, and The Who, fueled by plenty of jagged and crunchy guitar work from Piggy, the beefy rhythm section from Away and Newsted, and Snake's aggressive yet catchy vocals.

One of the things that immediately hits you about Katorz is how much damn groove is contained within these songs, and how memorable each track is. Check out the catchy hooks and monstrous riffs of "The X-Stream", or the pounding rhythms and driving guitar crunch that accompany Snake's anthemic vocals on "The Getaway". In fact, Snake approaches Lemmy-like territory on many songs on this CD, not so much in style but certainly in attitude. When the band slows things down a bit, like on the grinding "Dognation", you really hear the influence of Newsted, whose muscular and gymnastic bass grooves brings out the best in Away, as he pummels and flails at his kit with new found vigor. The two form a formidable duo alongside the crushing riffs from Piggy on "After All", a song that's also notable for the guitarists effective use of dissonant and varied guitar textures and chords. It's hard not to love the almost futuristic punk sounds of "Silly Clones", but I think the most fun piece here is the utterly addicting "Odds & Frauds", a straightforward and catchy rock anthem with beefy rhythms and huge guitar chords that remind me of the early music of The Who.

Katorz is one of those albums that will get under your skin and continue to spread throughout every organ in your body until it completely grabs a hold of your very existence. It's a shame that Piggy did not live to see this project come to fruition, but the remaining members of Voivod should be very happy that they have completed his vision, and that somewhere he is looking down at them and feeling very proud. Word has it that there is enough material left behind from Piggy for Part Two of this album, so be on the lookout.

Track Listing
1) The Getaway
2) Dognation
3) Mr. Clean
4) After All
5) Odds & Frauds
6) Red My Mind
7) Silly Clones
8) No Angel
9) The X-Stream
10) Polaroids

Added: January 14th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Voivod Website
Hits: 6851
Language: english

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Voivod: Katorz
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-01-14 16:56:03
My Score:

Believe it or not this is the first album of French Canada's Voivod I have had the pleasure of hearing. The band released their first album War and Pain way back in 1984. Having heard so much talk about the band my curiosity was certainly piqued when I came across this re-release by Metal Mind Productions. My version is a gold disc and limited to 2000 copies.

Katorz was originally released in 2006. The previous year the band's guitarist, Denis D' Amour aka Piggy, sadly passed away from colon cancer. The album used the demos he had been working on, at his request, and Katorz came to fruition. What's really cool is the music isn't disjointed in the slightest and there is no cut and paste feel. It is really quite remarkable how the band came up with such a solid album and were able to build these songs around Piggy's bone crushing riffs.

The opening track "The Getaway" is gritty hard driving metal loaded with energy and punk rock attitude. The ending came as a surprise as it encompasses moody sound effects and ambient acoustic guitar. Most of the tracks end this way, as Piggy's guitar expressions bridge the transition from track to track. A thoughtful and fitting tribute on behalf of the band. In "Dognation" the riffs are a little more chaotic while "Mr. Clean" is groovy hard rock with a happening bass line and addictive vocals. "After All" is a bit more sinister sounding with melodic riffs and vocals that are cleaner than on the previous three tracks. At first I wasn't sure what to make of Denis Bélanger's voice but it really started to grow on me the more I listened. He has a gritty 'metal' voice that is quite melodic at times. "Odds and Frauds" being a good example. Here his shouting style is really quite catchy and combined with an irresistible riff progression makes for a head banger's delight.

I was surprised how much I dig this album. This is hard rock and heavy metal done right and is as honest an album you will hear. Katorz earns a very good 3.5 stars.

Voivod: Katorz
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-08-31 17:09:17
My Score:

Everyone knows the phrase "with triumph comes loss", but as I listened to the most recent release by the band Voivod, I had to wonder if "with loss comes triumph" as well. The reason I bring this theory to light is due to the sad truth that the group would lose founder and riff wizard Denis "Piggy" D'Amour to colon cancer in August of 2005. Prior to his illness and throughout his treatment demos were written and worked on in hope that he would recover and the new recording could be completed and released for their fans. When this would not be a possibility anymore and Piggy succumbed to the illness and died, the band was faced with what should be done and more important - what would be right to do. Before his death, Piggy had instructed drummer Michel "Away" Langevin on the whereabouts of the demos and that he wanted this music completed and reach their fans. From there it would be far from simple, but yet it would be done and the results serve as a fitting reminder to the creative musician D'Amour was. It's an interesting album that sounds quite good especially when you take into account the means that it was recorded and what the members had available to them to do it. From the demos with Piggy's last guitar work and Jason's bass, drums were added by Michel while vocals were hammered out by "Snake" Belanger in his home. It is not the typical album creation scenario but the guys rose above it all. As you play this Hard Rock & Punk influenced album at any volume you will be hard-pressed to find any limitation to it. "Getaway" is a great opener and has a slight Motorhead vibe to which is never a bad thing and Snake has a great feel to his vocal here and on "After All" (two of my preferred tracks). An interesting observation to the recording is the tightness between bass and drums which was fantastic as while the two instruments are normally recorded together that was not possible for the demo work and found Michel figuring out the feel from the tapes. He shines through especially in how he slows down and speeds up as if he was sitting there with the other guys. The whole effort was then produced by Glen Robinson, who fans will remember from their killer album "Nothingface". Musically, I guess that "Odds & Frauds" will be one of the most popular tracks along with "Polaroid's" as the first is one of the catchiest and the latter is perhaps the trippiest of the albums music. The album as a whole is in the same direction that album and not like the early Thrash fests that the band used to deliver. Personally, I always preferred the direction that they were going with both "Nothingface" and "Angel Rat", as the group was taking experimental journeys with their music that were both interesting very creative.

Voivod had a strong fan base and you either loved them or hated them, as sometimes the change was too drastic for some listeners. Despite this you could never say that they were short on creativity and that's what makes having this album worthwhile. Before he died, Piggy recorded 23 demo tracks and this recording has the first ten of them. The remaining songs will go through the same process that gave us "Katorz" and with them the world will be able to better appreciate the quality of player that Piggy was and the impact he had on many of Hard Rock and Metal's finest.

» Reader Comments:

Voivod: Katorz
Posted by Gert Ouderits on 2007-01-05 06:34:48
My Score:

What a boring album !! Just give me some oldschool "Killing Technology" Voivod any day, not this boring Nirvana - copy stuff !!

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