Its not so long ago that everyone, including the surviving members of Voivod themselves, was saying that ‘Infini’ would be the final album from the Canadian prog-thrash legends, recorded using the final riffs recorded by Denis ‘Piggy’ D’Amour before he passed from the onset of colon cancer in 2005. And indeed, it seemed unfeasible to continue on without the man who was so influential in creating one of the most distinctive sounds in all of metal. Yet watching them at Download Festival 2009, I didn’t exactly feel as though we were witnessing the death of Voivod as a band. In fact, it seemed very much a band relishing their later years, as if there was a fire in their bellies again, a renewed sense of purpose. That it would seem unfair and premature to end Voivod once they ran out of Piggy’s riffs. Once the band recorded new music with Martyr guitarist Dan Mongrain (now ‘Chewy’), it seemed inevitable, despite Michel ‘Away’ Langevin throwing caution to any prospective future recordings. Make no mistake, Voivod are back.
‘Target Earth’ is the first Voivod album to feature Mongrain on guitar, and the first to feature Jean-Yves ‘Blacky’ Thériault since 1991’s ‘Angel Rat’. Any lingering doubts that Voivod in 2013 might be a shadow of the Piggy-led days are soon dispelled, as the band tear into a great mix of their late 80’s style metal and their latter day, heavy rock influnced sound. The old thrash elements are still there and the classic Voivod sound has not diminished either. Mongrain is more than capable as a guitarist, with some dynamic riffs that between he and Blacky’s distinct mangling bass tones truly rejuvenate the band – the last two albums were simply an effort to get Piggy’s final works out there to the fans – this feels more like a genuine attempt to inject new impetus, to recapture the classic vibe. Add to that Denis ‘Snake’ Bélanger’s unmistakable snarl and the severely underrated drumming skills of Away, and once you have a band firing on all cylinders, with tracks like ‘Mechanical Mind’, ‘Warchaic’ and ‘Artefact’ coming complete with progression, technicality and intrigue, in fact everything that originally made Voivod such an interesting proposition when they first twisted thrash on its head.
The album finishes with a 90-second track called ‘Defiance’ which doesn’t feel in keeping with the album, bar a lyrical theme. All the other songs on ‘Target Earth’ are at least four minutes long and have great staying power – ‘Defiance’ simply feels like a fleeting ‘bye’, and a slightly underwhelming one at that. Just a minor complaint about an album which, by and large, is one of Voivod’s best in recent years; hell, even up there with the classic era of ‘Dimension Hätröss’, ‘Killing Technology’ and ‘Nothingface’. Not topping those albums, but seriously close. And I don’t get all those moans about the artwork – it still screams Voivod and I personally don’t mind it. Proof though you can never judge a book – or an album – by its cover.
Voivod – Target Earth EPK
Buy ‘Target Earth’ here