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Have you ever experienced a symphony live, stood back and soaked in all its various, congruent instrumentation? Puzzled at how a single human being could have coordinated all the various threads and sections into one cohesive movement? Marveled at what a mind, or collective of minds, this would require? Well, Voivod's fourth full-length Dimension Hatröss offers much the same sense of wonderment, only its orchestra pit has been rendered down to a quartet of Canadians, gradually evolving out of the raucous post-apocalyptic punk/speed metal of their youths into something I don't think anyone could have predicted. This is not a mere album, but a coherent science fiction journey expressed through some of the most creative thrash metal of the 80s.
Personally, I find the band's three successive albums in that 1987-1989 period to each be spotless in its own right, but if prompted to choose just one as an introduction to the band's genius, Dimension Hatröss would be that defining experience. Not only for the unforgettable music itself, but for the amazingly prescient Outer Limits-like concept fueling its central narrative. It's basically an extraterrestrial Fantastic Voyage-noir, in which the band's mascot creature, the 'voivod' uses ridiculous Goldberg science to spawn a microcosm of galaxies, and then use its own twisted technology to step in and explore them, reveling at the various alien cultures within these shattered atoms. Like all great science fiction, though, the numerous social and political situations the voivod encounters within this debatable space reek of tyranny, chaos, oppression, and class warfare, all reek true of our own civilization through history, and thus as foreign and otherworldly Dimension Hatröss may seem on its surface, it's really one giant, timeless metaphor the listener can bet will retain its relevance for the rest of his/her natural lifespan on Earth.
Each component of the album's production and visualization is the perfect catalyst to shape its story. The cover art, drafted beautifully by drummer/writer Away, is one of the most striking and iconic images of the band's career, more colorful than his artwork for the first three records. A frightening, freakish biomechanical aberration stands against some radiating nucleus, crowned by the band's blood red logo. The sort of album cover that I stare at decades later and still find attractively disturbing. The lyrics are scrawled in patterns that create a first-person stream of consciousness of the imagery the 'narrator' has experienced, very brief lines and refrains that relay all manner of key phrases as the voivod journeys on into the madness of this genesis. Much like a captain's log, or a scientist's rambled test recordings; even the narrator itself seems difficult to trust due to its 'voice', but at the same time, the lyrics remain strangely accessible, more 'street talk' than arbitrary technobabble. A wise choice, as the band didn't wish to confuse an audience that was adjusted more to the messages of Anthrax, Possessed, Slayer and Metallica.
One would suspect that the Canadians might drown such a 'space oddity' of a record in loads of effects and excess futurescapes like synthesizers, but once again Dimension Hatröss trumps expectations with a very grounded, sincere production. There are occasionally some processing effects on Piggy's riffing experiments, some fuzz to the bass, and reverb to the vocals and drums, but otherwise this is completely down to Earth progressive thrash metal which you might be experiencing in a rehearsal room. Don't get me wrong, this was professional and polished enough to run with the bigger guns like ...And Justice for All or South of Heaven, but it's remarkably workmanlike, and Voivod sought only to deliver their alien experience through the lyrics and composure of the music itself. Everything is clearly defined and audible, from the grooves to the vocals to the dissonant slices of atmosphere D'Amour splashes upon its obscure universe.
It's not an easy sound to pinpoint, but to best describe the music would be like taking Killing Technology's brash, grimy hyperspace acceleration thrash as a base. Then stir in the percussive, tempo twining hysterics of progressive rock titans like Rush and Yes, swirl in some psychedelic Pink Floyd ambiance and abandon, and season liberally with fusion rock or the voluptuous, eclectic space-funk of artists like Herbie Hancock. Plenty of pure, post-industrial thrash riffs abound through the eight tracks, but they're sauteed in all manner of strange architecture thanks to Piggy's inventive chords. Through the 90s and beyond, a lot of sludge, math core, industrial black and technical death outfits would implement a similar field of streaming minors and abstract note configurations, and a lot of 'core kids and metal nerds were reared on them. But who was the first extreme metal angler casting for dust on the moon, fuckers? Denis motherfucking D'Amour. The leads are whacky, trippy and sparsely wrought through the experience, but each perfectly placed. I also love that the rhythmic choices in each of the songs seem to reflect the culture being explored, but they maintain an aesthetic cohesion throughout the 40 minutes.
Away proves himself an extraterrestrial Neal Peart here, eagerly matching the dynamic eccentricities of the bass and rhythm guitar with swaths of double bass, thundering fills and ample athleticism. Bassist Blacky stands out more here than on Killing Technology, a grooving dimensional rift-beast that anchors the spectral, slumming atmospheres of a "Chaosmongers" or "Brain Scan" with the psychotic communique of its bridge; but also fluid and distinctive in the faster lanes. To this we add Snake's unique punk inflection, somewhere between Bob Dylan and Johnny Rotten if they were spending a night at the local rehab, flushing the chemical adversary from their systems. His voice might run on the nasal side, but it's quite effective at piercing the nebular haze of the galaxies being explore, you can just hear it ringing out on the edge of some black hole, shouting out to you: 'Hey, I'm over here!' Everything instrument and vocal passage is bound together into a lattice of brilliant, ever mutating rhythmics and alien introspection.
There was not a goddamn record out there in the 80s that sounded nearly as stoned on xeno-substances, and every moment from the turbulent intro of "Experiment" to the hammering, jamming sendoff to "Cosmic Drama" has had me hooked for almost 25 years now with no signs of letting up. I'll except the bonus track, a dystopian street surfing spin on the old Neal Hefti television Batman theme, which is obviously not so ambitious or serious as anything else here, but this wasn't available on my original cassette, so it never mattered much to be as anything more than a quirky addition when I upgraded to the CD. Still, the fact that they would even perform such a piece infuses positive karma to the Canadians' inner geek; I once tracked a psychedelic, surfable metal cover of the theme from the moody 60s animated Spider-Man theme for fun, replacing the vocal lines with spacey leads, totally inspired by Voivod.
Of course, there's always been a Flat Earth Contingent among thrash/speed metal fans who never enjoyed this album, never 'got it', or never really cared to try, since it wasn't a rehash of Kill 'Em All, Show No Mercy or Seven Churches (hypocritical, perhaps, since those albums themselves were innovations). People don't want their air space threatened. Many will change the channel when they see Star Trek original series reruns, and hell, some folks just don't want the Twilight Zone impeding into their mosh pit. Much like Killing Technology before it, Dimension Hatröss was just too 'out there', the story of the Canadians' career, and the uphill battle that they've always fought, even when writing more accessibly works like the followups Nothingface and Angel Rat. To these I offer a beer, a cheer, conversation, condolences, and then I'm on my merry way, because I was just bred for an album like this. It's surely a top 20 metal album (all time) for me, and possibly my single favorite Canadian metal effort. Where imagination, vision and musical talent collide and tear asunder the fabric of possibility of something new. Frightening. Inspired. Immortal. Get connected.
Wow, this album completely blew me away. No track could be any better. This album is genius, and my favorite metal album of all time. First of all, this doesn't fit under any genre. I'd have to create my own sub-genre, such as "progressive thrash metal", or "space/cyber thrash", simply because this can't be classified as progressive metal or thrash metal. The songs are very well written and the concept and cover-art (obviously) are creative, like any other Voivod masterpieces. The concept is as follows, the voivod being has created a machine that forces protons travelling at the speed of light to collide with anti-protons travelling the same speed in the opposite direction. This collision spawns a micro-galaxy that the voivodian being can explore, which leads to the eight projects of "Dimension Hatross", the experiment, the tribals, the chaosmongers, the technocrats, the epilogue, a brain scan, psychic energy-stealing beings, and the ultimate destruction of the newly-created galaxy. Now, let's get to the songs, shall we?
The first song, "Experiment", is the thrashier of most of the songs, especially the verse. With a brilliant echoing, it creates its own world. With an epic intro and a wonderfully-done outro, this is an incredible song. The second track, "Tribal Convictions", is the most well-known and popular song from the album. It starts with a bad-ass intro, followed by a groovy riff and verse. The song steadily progresses to thrash speeds and a crazy outro. "Chaosmongers", the third track of the album, starts with a Nirvana-esque riff, but then takes you to the voivod universe with a very punk-influenced feel. Then, it takes you with numerous tempo changes and fantastic riffs.
The fourth track, "Technocratic Manipulators", starts with the most optimistic riff of the album, but soon spirals into a powerful horrifying section after the second chorus. The solo, like "Chaosmongers", is very well done. Then "Macrosolutions to Megaproblems" starts playing. It begins with a jazzy fade in, then a beautiful verse. It soon delves into the chorus, a great one at that, and then makes it to numerous riffs, which shows Piggy's true genius. The sixth track, "Brain Scan", begins with an eerie riff that progresses to a doomy verse, then an epic chorus and soon gets to a point with the solo. At the end, an uneasy outro takes over, like in "Macrosolutions to Megaproblems".
The seventh track, "Psychic Vacuum", begins with what sounds like an alarm, to make the listener feel uneasy. Then, it goes into a cool, laid-back verse and then back to the uneasy with the chorus. After a little while, after the great solo, the song takes you to the ends of space, falling through the stars. Then, it takes you to the extremely brilliant outro. (Nothing can stop the psychic vacuum." The final track, "Cosmic Drama", is my favorite from the album. It begins with an epic intro, then to another doomy area that makes it even more epic. The verse begins and tells about the galaxy being destroyed. Then, the chorus, which is amazing. This and, "Macrosolutions to Megaproblems" have the best choruses. It has what you would expect from a closer at the end, many single pattern crash cymbal hits and bare string strums.
If you have the special edition, then you get the ninth track, "Batman", which bumps the time of the album up to forty-one minutes. It is a cover of the Batman theme, composed by Neal Hefti. It has a wonderful solo and makes the album complete. All this being said, "Dimension Hatross" is a truly creative and brilliant album by a truly creative and brilliant band. This, to me, is one of the best metal albums to have graced the world. Thank you, Voivod. (R.I.P. Denis D'Amour, Piggy.)
Before even touching upon the music of this Canadian band's classic fourth album, I should say that over time, Voivod have become one of my favourite metal bands of all time. With one of the most inventive and unique approaches in thrash metal, the work of the band's classic lineup (being everything up to 'The Outer Limits') has not disappointed me, and 'Dimension Hatross' is no exception. Widely considered to be the band's greatest album by their more thrash-leaning fans, there is not yet the sort of perfection that would be heard on the fifth record 'Nothingface', but the charm and quirky excellence here still ranks this among the band's greatest achievements.
One of the greatest things about Voivod is that they have never been content to stick with the same sound throughout their career. Falling in between the raw speed metal of the band's earlier material (via 'War And Pain') and the proggier, Floydian leanings of albums like 'Angel Rat' and 'The Outer Limits', 'Dimension Hatross' is a very strong transition record for this band. Voivod remains an overtly thrashy act here, but by this point, progression was seeping through the cracks of their style. Even from the irregular time of the album's opening riff on 'Prolog/Experiment', Voivod places themselves within the realm of the 'thinking man's metal'. As with much of Voivod's material, their biggest distinction here is the dissonant and left-of-center style of their guitarist, Denis 'Piggy' L'Amour. While the typical formula for thrash guitarists to prove themselves is through rapidfire soling and speed, Piggy puts his very original spin on playing the guitar into each song, often using chords that don't at first sound right to the human ear, but don't take long to become equally as catchy and fun as anything more conventional.
Although the sound and songwriting isn't quite as outstanding here as it is on my personal favourite 'Nothingface', the album has a surprising longevity for a thrash metal album, with appreciation only growing from listen to listen. The only song here that feels unnecessary or out-of-place is- as anyone who has heard the album may tend to agree- the final track, which is a cover of the Batman theme song. Although undeniably fun and indicative of Voivod's tongue-in-cheek nature, it does feel as if it takes away from the otherwise highly intelligent nature of 'Dimension Hatross'. Personal highlights from the album would include the spacey 'Brain Scan' and 'Chaosmongers', but perhaps most of all, the incredible song 'Tribal Convictions', which has one of the most exciting introductions to a metal track I have ever heard. As one may guess from the song titles alone, the lyrical themes here generally revolve around spacey, science-fiction themes. Although he may be light on technical skill as a vocalist, Denis 'Snake' Belanger manages to take these abstract topics and make them incredibly fun and enjoyable, although they can tend to amount to technobabble at times.
'Dimension Hatross' comes very close to being a masterpiece for me, although it is evident that there would still be room for improvement, most notably in the way the band's sound is mixed and produced. Although it would be improved upon and perfected with the follow-up 'Nothingface', 'Dimension Hatross' is a classic, and rightfully so.
This album is situated in between the thrash metal era and the progressive metal and even progressive rock era of the band. And though there are some really great songs on this album, there is a certain straightness, a clear line, a certain kick of creativity, strength and genius missing.
Don't get me wrong, there are still very good songs on this album like the diversified and addicting "Macroslutions to megaproblems", the drum orientated heavy "Tribal convictions" which connects future and past of the band or the chaotic "Chaosmöngers" which surprises with the guitar's stuttering single strums. Especially the middle part of the album is very interesting and without a doubt well done before the last few songs don't get up to this level. But still, there is a brilliant song, a real hit or highlight missing which almost every other release of the band has, a song that goes simply out of the rest of the album and touches you.
The problem of this album is maybe that it is placed between a perfect thrash and a perfect progressive album and that this one is somehow a transitional album which doesn't have the genius of the other two albums. It is a very good release, but it is not brilliant and a part of the somehow dumb and less innovating "Rrröööaaarrr" the weakest release of the band in the eighties. It is still better than 90 percent of the metal releases in the same year or decade, but in comparison to Voivod itself, it is just an average album after all.
After toiling through the eighties with not much critical acclaim Voivod entered the studio and recorded this marvel. Everything from songwriting to Piggy’s epic guitar work there is little imperfection.
Well to begin with the mastering was far superior to Voivod’s previous efforts. Dimension Hatross has a smooth energetic flow to it. The bass, guitar and drums are all mixed in the right proportions. Onward to the music, it has definitely evolved from the chaos that was Rrroooaaarrr. The best element is Piggy’s guitar work. The way he plays is smooth & crisp, with tasty riffs being abundant (my personal favorite is the intro to Experiment). Not to mention his solos are brilliant, they are fast, clean & complicated as fuck! Psychic Vacuum being the prime example of this. As for the rhythm section, the bass has more input than most other groups. Blacky throws plenty of epic bass lines in to add to the overall feel which is pretty uplifting. As for Away’s percussion work he does a hell of a job, even performing the intro to Tribal Convictions. His playing is frantic at times, which keeps it going in the fast bits. But then there’s Snake’s vocals. Ever since War & Pain his vocals have been slowly changing, regressing briefly for Rrroooaaarrr, then here on Dimension Hatross, he has his most mature performance so far. Keeping a midrange style at times, then normally the loudest he gets to is shouts, which he does a lot of. But I enjoy his vocals he has an interesting sound that you don’t normally hear. But the lyrics, I honestly don’t know how they came up with these but their bizarre as fuck. With titles like Microsolutions to Megaproblems, Chaosmongers, & Cosmic Drama one would definitely question what the fucks going on.
Overall a great release, very entertaining with some memorable guitar work & some weird lyrics-93%
I picked this up after reading about Voivod. I like metal, I like sci-fi, and so a mix of both sounded cool. Indeed, this album fits everything together.
The guitar sound is quite unorthodox, with some weird diminished chords. Drums are solid. Bass is somewhat badly mixed here and there, but has a good burp. Vocals are by far the most controversial. Ok, guys, it's true- Snake does sound kinda like a heavy-metal Billy Corgan, but you'll get used to it.
The songs will throw you for a mindfuck, right from the wish-wish-wishing sound before the great prog riff of "Experiment" opens (and really you should know that by the coverart- I mean, what the fuck is going on there? Scary.). "Chaosmongers" has a nice punky feel. "Macrosolutions to Megaproblems" has a solid, (yet nasal) catchy chorus and a sweet solo. Overall, the sound, theme, and lyrics are steady. Really, the only thing that offsets it all is that fucking Batman cover, which is more of a stupid novelty than anything.
I wouldn't reccomend this to the average thrasher, or the average metal fan. It's like hearing later Celtic Frost stuff for the first time- you have to keep your mind open. That said, if you already like prog- i.e. old Rush, Yes and King Crimson- you could immerse yourself in this record. It'll weird you out.
This is the best Voivod album. It combines the aggression of thier earlier work with the spacey mood of later albums. The result is a dramatic musical experience that places this album among the best in metal history.
What sets this work apart from most metal of its own time is the structure of the songs. If heavy metal were performed on Broadway it may sound like this. The songs are unpredictable and daring. It seems that the music was written to fit with Snake's vocal performance rather than the usual method of putting some cool riffs together and having the singer sing over them.
Voivod's trademark has always been the dissonant sound of Piggy's guitar. His creative approach to rhythm guitar includes extensive use of the high strings in some sections and single note rhythmic pounding in others. The genius of his playing is on this disc is that he achieves satisfying power with the use of inverted and unusual chord structures and without power chords. This results in a unique sound that is undeniably heavy, but also ambient and expressive. Some of the best moments on the album come when the band drops out and the guitar plays alone for a few seconds and the band comes crashing back in again.
The primary point to be made about all the performances on the album is that they are not made to show what the musicians can do, but rather to serve the great songs. The rhythm section is solid enough to hold the songs together through many changes. The singing is much better here than on previous albums is performed with sincerity. The singing is both gutteral and melodious.
Dimension Hatross is a concept album. In fact, Voivod itself is a concept band. The concept of the Voivod character has perhaps turned many people off because it is seen as "cheesy". I can understand this point, as I am not really into it either. However, I don't think it gets in the way and probably helps tie the album together as a complete work, as opposed to a collection of songs.
The production is crisper than that of Voivod's previous albums. The muddiness is gone and the all the parts can be heard well. There are a great deal of effects, but they are used as interesting highlights and add much to the listening experience.
Highlights: Chaosmongers, Technocratic Manipulators, Microsolutions to Megaproblems.