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Proving themselves to be as indestructible as one of the many futuristic creations to have graced the cover of a Voivod album, the genuinely legendary Canadians continue their elaborate progressions on their 13th album in glorious fashion. "Target Earth" marks the beginnings of a new phase in the band's tumultuous 30-year career - a history which matches the peaks and troughs of metal's journeys through 80's glory to 90's wilderness and back, before the recent coming together of three-quarters the original line-up - this is the first album of new material written without the left-over riffs of tragically departed guitarist Piggy. Those boots are filled by Dan 'Chewy' Mongrain and boy does he do well; his fractious thrashing riffing in "Kluskap O'Kom" is a stunning reminder that despite all the band's proggy tendencies there lies a thrash band at it's core. Consider too the Discharge-bred punk overtones in "Corps Étranger" and "Resistance" or his jumpy chord structures in "Kaleidos" as just two examples of how well his work has settled in here.
What of the rest of the band? Snake on vocals veers from punky snarl to thrash packleader with continued aplomb. The more destructive sound to his vocals may be lost along with the most visceral qualities of the band's 80s output but he does a fine job in leading the band's inimitable style. In Away and Blacky on drums and bass, the rhythm section as heard in "Warchaic" and the title track bring to mind two other of thrash's elder, progressive entities: Coroner and Watchtower, both of whom one felt could do away with the guitars and vocals and still be worth listening to. Let's not forget though how Mongrain's lead soloing in said title track bristles with the character and spice of Watchtower's Bobby Jarzombek, just before you thought I was pining for the removal of his instrument.
Far from ever being the all-out thrash band Voivod are not afraid to slow the pace through moments of "Empathy for the Enemy" and "Warchaic". This diversity and the extreme competence of all ten tracks goes to make "Target Earth" a very listenable release and serves as a fitting reminder to the outlandish brilliance that Voivod bring to metal. Our musical world would be a poorer place without their unique visions.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net