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In 2005, the metal world had to bear some terrible news; Denis "Piggy" D'Amour of Voivod had passed away from cancer. It was a crippling blow to Voivod. Their driving force, the one that gave them creative ideas and kept the band's creative juices flowing was no longer with them. It would only mean the imminent demise of the band, and fans would have had held their heads down saying "There goes another one, just like Death". But as it turns out, Voivod's story had a happier ending. They would recruit Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain of the death metal band Martyr and soldier on with him at the creative helm. The result was 2013's "Target Earth", an album that came out of the blue and gave fans a sense of the renewal and rebirth of Voivod.
You would think that replacing a guitarist that was completely ahead of his time would not be a good decision on the band's part, but Chewy really had an idea of what Piggy would have written had he still been with them. He must have studied his work real hard, cos he knew what diminished and augmented chords and arpeggios were when he joined Voivod. He incorporated those techniques into the music, making it sound as if Piggy never even left. Songs like "Kluskap O'Kom" and "Kaliedos" sound so much like Piggy's work, it would do him real proud. Those are diminished and augmented chords in there, alright, they're part of Voivod's signature sound. "Target Earth" doesn't sound like it was made by any other band, it sounds like Voivod did it. Chewy is also a specialist in jazz guitar, so Voivod's sound might not have been so hard for him to perfect. You can hear the jazz influence in the music too, especially in the title track before the solo. The bizarre chord patterns, jazz influence, and science fiction lyrics all fit together nicely, showing that the space adventure of the Voivod shall continue on to more distant galaxies.
The album also marked another major change in the band's lineup. Gone is Jason Newstead, who had been with the band throughout the '90s and 2000's, and in comes Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault. His booming bass guitar work can be heard in parts of the title track, as well as the interlude of "Kluskap O'Kom" and the intro of "Warchaic", all songs that greatly benefited from Blacky's return. Blacky knew Voivod's sound well, as he was a founding member of the band that had known it better than Newstead, so I guess that adds to Voivod's rejuvination in "Target Earth". Also part of Voivod's signature sound are the progressive elements. There might not be as many time signature changes in many of the songs as there were in songs on Voivod's earlier efforts. There are approximately two to three different tempos in "Kluskap O'Kom" and "Warchaic" only had one or three, whereas "Macrosolutions to Megaproblems" on their "Dimension Hatross" album had more than five. It might not be much to take away from the band's sound, but the change is still somewhat noticeable. Voivod also did a song on here done entirely in French, as they are from Montreal; "Corps etranger". Since I took German in high school, I have absolutely no idea what Snake is singing in that one. Regardless of that, it's still a pretty ripping song that still holds true to Piggy's guitar work from the past.
"Target Earth" is proof that a band cannot always be brought down by the passing of a founding member, even if he or she contributed much to the band's sound. Voivod may have had a close call, since Piggy was one of the few people on this planet who knew the band's sound better than everybody else. He did, after all, create it. But they have made the wise decision to continue with a guitarist who would be familiar with the sound, and that decision paid off. Because of this, the book has never closed on Voivod, and it will continue to bring Piggy's style further into the 21st century and beyond.