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From planet-scaping to pavement-scraping - 82%

autothrall, September 11th, 2012

Voivod was a heavily anticipated album for me, because despite having mixed feelings over Eric Forrest's tenure with the band, they were still (and remain) one of my all time favorites, one of the groups that formed my fundamental appreciation of the potential in music for positive growth and progression. As it turned out, once the Canadians returned after the six-year gap from Phobos, they would launch one of their highest profile campaigns yet. Though Snake had returned his rump to the vocal seat, the band had yet to attract Blacky back into the fold, so they did the next best thing: hooking up with one of the most famous bassists in all the metal genre, Flotsam & Jetsam/Metallica alumni Jason Newsted, who as it turned out, was a long time fan of Voivod. This also no doubt helped them secure a second stage spot at Ozzfest 2003, though I can hardly imagine the unwashed, wallet chain armored Korn masses did enough homework to take something away from the experience...

I have to admit, from a recording perspective, this was actually a good match. Newsted's not exactly god on the bass, but he's a damn solid performer, and he seems to very clearly comprehend the aesthetic Voivod were gunning for this time around. And the importance of that solidarity cannot be understated, because the eponymous album was a very different experience for the long-term fan, and likely confusing to anyone new who checked out the band and then went through their catalog in reverse. This was once again a 'stripped' or dumbed down Voivod, but not in the same sense as Negatron. Where that 1995-1998 phase of the band adopted industrial and groove metal tendencies, this sees the resurfacing of the bands oldest influences, punk and traditional metal. In particular, a lot of the riff patterns seem like burlier, beefed up NWOBHM songs circa Venom and Motörhead dowsed in Piggy's unique, dystopian dissonance and Snakes harder proto-punk inflection. There's still an almost mechanical, alien nature to the music, but even the lyrics here have been rendered down to a more personal and sociopolitical platform than the xenorobotic wasteland and nuclear astrophysics of the past.

Understandably, this was not a welcome change to many of the band's remaining fans who wanted to hear Nothingface 2.0 or Killing Technology II: The James Cameron Director's Cut, and it didn't get a very fair shake in my opinion. But I have to admit I quite enjoyed this, if taken for what it actually was. There is still subtlety coursing through the album, like the occasional wailing melody ("Blame Us") or trippy psychedelic echoes ("The Multiverse", "Divine Sun"), but for the most part it's bold, knock-down chords and riffs with a great, organic bass tone lighter on distortion than what Eric Forrest was bringing to the table. Sure, the guitar progressions are incredibly simple, but still dynamic and powerful, and I like for once that the band did some soul searching, and gave us a closer glimpse of their worldview rather than...perspectives of other worlds that don't yet exist. The drums are settled into a standard rock climate, and the guitars pretty clean, but Newsted and high profile engineer Brian Joseph Dobbs were quite successful in producing this polished incarnation of the band, and certainly this selection of songs doesn't suffer from the treatment.

There are plenty of straight spaceway/raceway rockers here like "Gasmask Revival" and "Reactor", but I found myself drawn far more to the steadier, lurching tracks that took their sweet time with me, like "I Don't Wanna Wake Up" which translates from this airy, acoustic rock into a dissonant gargoyle groove with a few punkish permutations; or "Invisible Planet" and its brazen, driving walls of chords and the great, contrasted riffs in its bridge. "Real Again?" and "Rebel Robot" also feature some damn interesting spins on the classic Voivod formula riffing, the chorus in the former has this bluesy, post-Motörhead groove that I dig to this day. There are a few generic, predictable riff sequences peppered throughout, but in total I found this to be a solid enough track list.

As a space cadet of the nth degree, I can't really fault anyone who was desirous of a return towards the more ambitious Voivod of the late 80s, but sometimes we've just got to judge something for how it sounds, and not what we so lusted for. Bearing that in mind, I think Voivod was about as good as it could be in the circumstances. Accessible without being 'accessible', well produced and packing a lot of punch for those that don't mind some dust in their coffee. The album might feel more like an exploration of Earth's dry deserts than the lunar dunes, but it's great for road trips and general reflection. The followup Katorz definitely takes a few of the ideas here to their fullest, and proves a better album, but regardless, I don't plan on forgetting this anytime soon.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Voivod - Voivod - 60%

ConorFynes, August 23rd, 2011

Six years had past after Voivod came out with 'Phobos'. Along with 'Negatron', mid-to-late nineties were a somewhat depraved time for Voivod, and lacking the distinctive voice of their frontman Denis Belanger, it almost felt like a different band altogether. Although the bass was now being handled by someone new, this was essentially a return to the way that Voivod once was, for the most part. Although the songwriting here lacks the same adventurous spirit and classic quality about it as did Voivod's early material, there is still a good batch of tracks here that should pleasantly satisfy the band's fanbase, provided they don't expect something as exciting as their earlier material.

Voivod's self-titled somewhat reminds me of Metallica's 'Black Album' in the sense that their core sound is still there, but alot of what made them originally so damned intense has been sheathed away. Mostly, the unexpected time signature changes and dissonant riffs have been done away with, and while Voivod's unique sound is still here, it feels like Voivod-lite. There is still spaciness, but it is generally a tame feeling, and most noticeable here are the surprisingly conventional riffs. Piggy is one of the greatest guitarists in metal for me, but hearing him here, his genius is much less evident, maybe sparing a few quirky riffs and a distinctive guitar tone that is used throughout. The songwriting here is pretty good, and it is very clear that it is Voivod the listener is dealing with, even barring the unique way that the band performs. Although this is still on an entirely different plane than 'Negatron' or 'Phobos', I very much believe that 'Voivod' could have been much better than it is. Even with the conventional riffs, things are highly enjoyable, but the monotony wears thin within a few tracks. This is because Voivod have made the sometimes fatal pairing of keeping their sound and direction generally the same throughout the entire thing, and being over an hour long in length, even a diehard Voivod fan will be likely to think that the thing could do with a little trimming.

Had I listened to this at the time it came out in 2003, I would have been pleasantly surprised to hear the Voivod I love making a return to form. In the overall scheme of their career though, it feels like the self-titled album can only pale when compared to the truly innovative stuff that the band did in the 80's and early 90's. 'Voivod' is still a good album, but doesn't hold the same place in my heart as do the classics.

Weak and faceless alternative rock - 55%

kluseba, October 6th, 2010

After a break of six years, the reunited band comes back with this album and has once again completely changed its style. On this album, the band approaches a stoner or rock and roll sound with some alternative elements.

The album begins very straight and powerful with the brilliant "Gasmask revival" and "Face up", but the next songs all sound too similar, too faceless. There is much more groove in thise songs, but a lack of straightness and heaviness. Nothing special stays on your mind, there are no innovating space sounds, hilarious solos or conceptual and atmospheric intros or interludes that this band has often done. Only one song slightly surprises you in the middle of nowhere, which is "I don't want to wake up" which remains me of an old Metallica ballad. Sure thing, because Jason Newsted has joined Voivod for this album. A part of this exception, one song after the other goes by and the album really becomes boring before the catchy single and album closer "We carry on" reconnects with the straight opener of the album and pulls the listener out of a big black hole of boredom.

Four good efforts out of thirteen songs plus hidden track aren't simply enough for such a brilliant band. They are still innovating and have once more reinvented themselves on this album, but the weird and eerie sounds of the past, the surprising and courageous elements from their last efforts have gone away on this album. The new style sounds too faceless. I must call this album their weakest one in their whole album discography.

Picking up where 'The Outer Limits' left off... - 82%

Rael, August 20th, 2007

This one took quite a beating in some corners, but it would seem most of its critics were expecting 'Dimension Hatross' Part II or something. Snake's back. Great! But expecting Voivod to do anything but move forward is an unrealistic expectation for a band who never gave us the same album twice. Instead, the proudly titled 'Voivod' picks up where 1993's 'The Outer Limits' left off. It's as if the Eric Forrest era was written out of their history the minute this album was released. So...

What's not to like here? If you're already a Voivod initiate, there's a lot to enjoy. (And if you're not, you probably never will be--they're just one of those bands...) Apart from a few go-nowhere choruses and Snake being way too dominant in the mix (esp. "We Carry On"), 'Voivod' is a powerful album that does their legacy proud.

Both opener "Gasmask Revival" and "Rebel Robot" churn ahead impolitely, marrying the on-the-edge rawness of Voivod's early days with the grooved-out rock highlighted on the opening and closing of 'The Outer Limits'. There's a part halfway through "Facing Up" that reminds of the cyclic, hypnotic sci-fi sounds of 'Nothingface' ("...so many problems of science involved..."). Things like "Reactor", "Strange And Ironic" and "Invisible Planet", like "Rebel Robot" before them, take a much more thunderous bottom end and make swift space-metal work of it. And then there's the psychedelic "Divine Sun", which sounds like and outtake from the 1991-1993 era. Piggy's bizarre-o chords wail and flail all over the songs, the tone like a heavier, hungrier version of his sound on 'The Outer Limits'. He takes more lead spots than on the frustratingly lead-less 'Phobos' album, but still not quite enough if you crave the man's frenetic lead playing. So, the best stuff here mutates directions explored before and drives them into a more straightforward tunnel.

There are some lesser moments, but no entire clunkers. "Blame Us" takes awhile to arouse interest, but once there it works. And those aformentioned lazy choruses in "The Multiverse" and "I Don't Wanna Wake Up" could've been better. Fortunately, even the odd dull moment is slapped awake quickly by Away's propulsive drumming and Jason Newsted's excellent bass tone. The man understands the kind of bass tones and notes that Voivod needs and delivers them on this album.

This is as good as, if not better than this longtime Voivod fanatic expected. Whether or not follow-up 'Katorz' is a worthy cap on the band's legacy is debatable, but that's another album and another review...

Eh? What's with this alternative crap? - 40%

MetalThunder, April 4th, 2003

Complete with their new bassist, Jason Newsted, Voivod have released their new self-titled album. Being only a casual listener of VoiVod for some time, I reviewed this album with an open mind. However, this stance did not help my view of the album overall -- it's disappointing.

The album starts off with a terrible punk/hard rock song that has absolutely no originality. The vocals are extremely annoying and droning. The second track, "Facing Up," isn't much better and has an alternative rock/metal sound to it. Not good at all!

It is not till the third song called "Blame Us" that metal is actually played! And it's quite good metal aswell. This song could easily have been stolen from Annihilator as it sounds very similar to a lot of Annihilator's work, apart from the fact that Annihilator have better vocals.

But alas, they return to the alternative rock/metal sound on the next song. I felt like throwing away the CD at this point, but I continued the review for the sake of you guys! I want to help save you all the $10-$15 this album costs - spend it on something good instead, like Mourning Beloveth. The rest of the album continues on the same pattern - alternative rock/metal, mixed in with some good riffs here and there. Some of the better songs on the album are "The Multiverse," "Reactor," and "We Carry On."

"Reactor is probably my favorite track on the album as it is a lot more thrashy than the rest of the tracks. It also has better riffs...

In the end I will probably sell or trade this CD. If you were looking for some good thrash from Voivod, you'll be disappointed. I suggest you check out Hypnosia of Usurper instead.