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Kronik was a fan package released the year following Phobos, which I assume was meant to whet the audience's appetite for fresh and alternate material while they wrote and recorded some hypothetical third studio album with Eric Forrest. As it would turn out, this record actually contains the final creative input for E-Force's time with the band, and though Phobos itself had been an undeniable step above Negatron in terms of quality, I cannot say I was all that put out by the decision to bring Snake back into the band, regardless of whatever bad blood it might have created between the Canadians and Forrest. That said, Kronik was not exactly a case of ending on a high note...
There are three 'sections' to this release, the first of which is comprised of a trio of remixed songs from the recent studio albums. "Forlorn" is reduced partly to a hack, bouncy industrial metal tune, but as it proceeds you get some more depth with the clamorous percussion and choppier vocal mix. That said, it's a fucking utter mess, especially when it breaks into a cheesy hip hop beat that wouldn't have been cool if DJ Shadow used it the same year. "Nanoman" goes for more of a Prong approach, only more mechanized, with jungle drum patterns woven under the distorted vocals of Forrest, and lots of deep jeep bass interspersed along the far more difficult to make out guitars. "Mercury" is almost total jungle, and though I realize this style and its happy hardcore variant were pretty big in Canada during the 90s (I myself even enjoyed a bit of it), it sounds even less well plotted than anything on Fear Factory's similar turd Remanufacture.
After this comes the only chunk of Kronik that actually might matter to anyone, the unreleased material, which followed in a similar vein to Phobos' brute, spacey aesthetics. Really simplistic chord grooves that are dominated by dissonant counter-riffs, while Forrest's piercing, alien rasp howls out over the booming bass. Admittedly, "Erosion" and "Vortex" aren't a bad pair of tunes, nor is "Drift", though I had the impression most of these were mere variants on riffing progressions the band had already used for the past two albums, but if you're into that crushing Dimension Hatross type of guitar pattern, these provide a more muscular version that functions well enough above Away's pacing, and there are a few atmospheric and moody moments in the bridges that deliver some whacky, extradimensional thrills. In fact, if they'd just released these four tunes as an EP, I'd have a much higher opinion of them.
Lastly, the are a few live offerings here, chunky and atmospheric and all around more impressive sounding here than on the later Voivod Lives (which was recorded in '96), but three of the four tunes are also found on that album. The only bit of interest might be Eric Forrest's performance of Floyd's "Astronomy Domine", but while the guitars sound good here, E-Force simply does not have that same presence as Snake did. Still, this sounds a lot closer to how the band came off when I saw them in Northampton in the late 90s as a trio, and they're not as much of a misstep as the dumb remixes. In the end, Kronik is only serviceable to fans with a hard-on for Negatron and Phobos, all 30 of them, and even then I'm referring only to the unreleased studio tunes, which aren't so shabby. I believe I bought this for $1 at a used record store, and I wouldn't value it much beyond that.
Well, what can be said about this. First, I should get this much out of the way; Voivod's 'Kronik' has one of the worst album covers I have ever laid eyes on. I cannot see anyone in their right minds thinking that making an album cover with what for all intents appears to be Microsoft Word clip art was commercially, nevermind artistically acceptable. In any case, I will do my best to redirect my attention towards the actual music on 'Kronik'. Most Voivod fans will know that the band has gone through quite a few eras in its time, from speed metal to a more progressive thrash outfit, to a stint where they sounded quite a bit like Pink Floyd. After seven albums of great metal however, there were line-up changes, and this led to what's generally considered to be the weakest part of Voivod's career. Comprised primarily of the albums 'Negatron' and 'Phobos', Voivod transformed from a progressive thrash band into some sort of strange electronic or industrial lo-fi metal, a move that most all Voivod fans don't look kindly upon, but some can at least respect and appreciate. I am someone who has found little to no interest in the Voivod fronted by Eric Forrest, and the compilation of outtakes and 'best' tracks from this era naturally does not spark my interest much either. 'Kronik' is a varied compilation of electronic remixes, uninspired studio material, and to round it off, some live material. Overall, someone who particularly likes what Voivod did on their 8th and 9th albums might find something to appreciate here, but it's difficult to call this Voivod without Denis Belanger fronting them.
"Kronik" is an interesting compilation album divided into three parts: three disc jockey remixes of some more recent Voivod songs, four rare songs from special editions, b-sides or Japanese version of their last albums and finally four live songs recorded within the last years and with the trio line-up including E-Force, Piggy and Away.
The remixes are average songs. "Forlorn" is more diversified and electronical than the original version and starts this album in a heavy way without any introduction. This is surely the best of the three remixes. "Nanoman" sounds quite like the original version and is somehow an unnecessary experience without any courage. "Mercury" sounds very weird and dumb and is even more difficult to listen to than the original song.
The four studio songs sound really well and are better than many songs from the last two studio albums. "Vortex" is the weakest song of the four studio songs, but it has some interesting bass lines and E-Force can finally prove his talent on the instrument. "Drift" is very atmospheric and reminds of spacier version of an old Metallica song and will make the Thrash fans of Voivod quite happy. "Erosion" goes in the same direction and it is one of the rare songs of the band at that time to which you get easily a good approach. "Ion" is a typical Space Thrash song of the band and surprises with a weird guitar solo, crazy sounds, a hypnotical chant and a very tight drumming. All the four tracks are definitely worth listening to.
The four live songs are okay but nothing more. They sound mostly like the studio versions and the connection between the band and the crowd is very lame. A positive point is that the voice of E-Force is more emotional than on the studio albums and sounds really unique. Another positive thing is the good sound of the live recordings. If you know the band a little bit better you might know that the sound of most of their live recordings have only demo quality and sound horrible.
All the three different sections of this album have their positive and negative points, but I think that this album is worth a try and a good addition for any true fan of this band while the occasional fan might consider this compilation as unnecessary.