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Voivod at their most reflective - 90%

Ernest, November 7th, 2006

If you don’t like this album, you’re probably not that big of a Voivod fan. It’s really that simple. And that’s not to sound condescending; it’s just the way it is. Voivod were all about change, progression, and experimentation. And they were surprisingly good at everything they attempted. None of their migrations sounded forced or out of place.

We have their first two albums, which were mostly-straightforward thrashy garage metal. On Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross, they began exploring a “future metal” that was more clinical, progressive, and mathematical, while still retaining much of their thrashy aggression. Nothingface refined Dimension Hatross’ ideas to a nearly sterile level, often considered their “perfect” or ultimate album.

Enter Angel Rat. Where could they go after Nothingface? They most certainly couldn’t keep belaboring the Hatross/Nothingface style…they had already mastered that. Well, we found out on the previous album that psychedelic rock was an obvious influence to them (“Astronomy Domine”), even if it had never been extremely apparent in their own songs. Angel Rat is simply the embodiment of that influence, but with their own unique and inimitable twists.

The funny thing is, I’m not even a fan of psychedelic rock/metal. It’s often so lost in its own spacey world that if you’re not high, it’s hard to enjoy. Further, I’m not unable to realize when a band has made a mistake. Case in point, I do not like the two Eric Forrest albums at all, even though I recognize what they were exploring (but perhaps I’d have enjoyed them somewhat if had Snake been on vocals?).

The thing that makes Angel Rat so interesting is that they make psychedelia tasty for your brain…without the need for smoking up. Take “Golem” for example…the lyrics alone are wonderful, even without the music. Sad, sci-fi, BladeRunner-ish sentient apparatus musings. And how can one NOT like “The Prow”, a unique and bittersweet ode to the fate of a ship’s prow carving? Can’t you admit to feeling a little creepy after hearing “Twin Dummy”?

This, and The Outer Limits to a lesser extent, was a foray into a more mellow, moody, contemplative Voivod. And I do have to be in the right frame of mind to fully enjoy it. But even so, I must admit I somehow loved this album when it first came out. And I still love it today. Others are finally starting to realize just how good Angel Rat actually was (“ahead of its time” is perhaps not the right phrase, as there was nothing new about the genre that was explored, but “ahead of its audience” might be accurate).

The main hurdle for this album’s success was in how much it took their fans by surprise after Nothingface. Whereas the latter challenged you, Angel Rat asked you to sit back and relax. So when you’re ready to do exactly that, you’re ready for this album.