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Voivod - Nothingface - 100%

ConorFynes, April 11th, 2011

Although I would consider myself to be a fairly well-versed metalhead through and through, thrash metal is not a genre I have ever had much luck with. Being introduced to thrash by such albums as Slayer's 'Reign In Blood', I was never impressed and found the obsessive tendencies towards soloing and speed to be somewhat tasteless. Now, enter Voivod; a progressive thrash metal band from Montreal that would not only change my view on thrash metal, but also my perspective of how one could play the guitar. Since being introduced to this majestic album, I since consider it to be one of my favourite metal albums of all time, and for very good reason. 1989's 'Nothingface' is a unique album like no other in thrash, and with its combination of powerful originality and strong songwriting, Voivod have created what I now easily consider to be the greatest thrash album of all time, bar none.

Starting out as a more typical metal band, 'Nothingface' would see Voivod inherit even more progressive trends into their music. Changes in time signature, hallucinogen-addled lyrical themes and experimental musicianship would equate to a sound quite far flung from virtually all of the other metal released in its day. Like all of the best bands, Voivod's sound is equally divided amongst its four members. Perhaps most important is the atypical and disharmonic style of riffing from Denis 'Piggy' L'Amour, now unfortunately laid to rest. A very clear alternative to the 'skill through speed and soloing' approach adopted by most thrash musicians, Piggy makes his talent shown through using very irregular, at times unsettling chord structures and frantic switches between riffs. As a guitarist myself, Piggy's intricate work with chord experiments and unique tone stands as being one of my greatest influences; a guitarist who showed me that there was much more to metal guitar than going down the route of shredding. For that, I am indebted to him.

Also here are the keen bass lines of Jean-Yves Theriault. Usually the bass is not a particularly important instrument (instead gravitating towards a back-up), but Voivod makes it nearly as important as Piggy's guitar in the mix. The result is a mixed sound that has a much deeper resonance to it than most other bands. There are some surprisingly technical bass riffs here, which add to the already schizoid nature of Piggy's riffs. Denis Belanger's vocals on the other hand are not nearly as skillfully accomplished as the craft of the bassist or guitarist, are full of charisma and expression. An incredibly unique voice with a bit of a Francophone tinge to it that can only be found in Quebec, he leads the band very well, although some of the lyrics can get weak and amount to little more than technobabble over abstract science fiction concepts. The least remarkable aspect of the performance on 'Nothingface' is the drumwork of Michael Langevin, but it remains quite strong, leading the time signature changes with precision.

'Nothingface' is easily one of the strongest metal albums ever made. Some strong songwriting is made even more incredible by the band's innovative performance. If you're like me, you might be starved for some really original sound in the genre of metal. Voivod has accomplished this with 'Nothingface', and in doing so, they have made what is one of my favourite metal albums ever.