Voivod - Target Earth (Century Media)

Blacky's back, let the Blower bass commence!
Release Date: 
21 Jan 2013 - 11:30pm

 

Thirteen albums into a career that, with its inordinate number of twists, turns and lowpoints, would have killed off lesser bands years ago, Voivod enter their fourth decade as a fully-functioning metal legend comfortable with where, and who, they are. 

For a band that is so demanding to listen to this is no mean feat. Perhaps the quintessential metal band ever in that they and they alone manage to synthesise every facet of extreme music into a seething, febrile mass of chaotic grandeur in a manner no other band even comes close to, in Target Earth they have possibly constructed the quintessential Voivod album. This is amazing firstly because deceased guitarist and major songwriter  Denis ‘Piggy D’Amour had nothing to do with it’s execution, but also because I for one never thought the band would be able to encapsulate itself quite so perfectly.

Opening with the jagged, edgy title track, Voivod take absolutely no prisoners from the get go. Kluskap O’Com sees the band revisiting their punk past courtesy of some nice d-beat from drummer Away and the welcome return of bassist Blacky and his patent ‘blower’ bass sound which really is a nostalgic blast of fresh air throughout Target Earth.

So far so good, so extreme.  But then the band confound expectations by following this excellent opening one-two with perhaps the most commercial thing they’ve ever done, the surprising Empathy for the Enemy.  Of course commercial is a relative term, but there’s a little melodic surprise lurking in Empathy... that I wasn’t expecting yet hits the spot totally. 

Mechanical Mind and Warchaic are a little more what you expect from 21st century ‘Vod, sprawling, proggy dissonance from ‘new’ guitarist Dan ‘Chewy’ Mongrain welded to Away’s scattergun drum batterings, the whole topped by Blacky’s roving bass attack and Snake’s languid, half-dozy vocal delivery. As ever, when it starts to become a little impenetrable somebody breaks ranks with a from-nowhere time change to keep things interesting; Every member of the band deserves credit for this, but Mongrain especially takes plaudits for his faultless performance throughout.  At times he’s more Piggy than Piggy, whilst always reaining his own personality. A true man of the match performance.

Resistance loses the album some momentum, being a bit more straightforward and a little overlong,  but Kaleidos claws a little of the lost ground back with its spidery, stop-start riffage and a paranoid, reeking-of-desperation vocal from Snake – it’s a claustrophobic, unsettling track and a perfect antidote to the slightly prosaic Resistance. Corps Etranger also sounds a little filler-y,  but next track Artefact again gets rid of the bad taste in a similar fashion to Kaleidos. Another careering, rip-roaring trip through every trick in the Voivod book,  it’ll leave your head spinning as you attempt to process all the musical information being shovelled your way. But a bit like the sort of hangover you get when ‘free bar’ is declared at your local hostelry, it’s a headache you won’t mind wearing. 

Closing track Defiance doesn’t really seem to be a track at all – it’s a minute and a half of pounding drumming and more arachnid riffage but it fades out before it really gets started – a very Voivod like thing to do, it strikes me – and a suitably enigmatic way to end the album from a band that has never, ever, taken the easy way when a harder path beckons.  This is seriously good stuff.