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Faster and tighter - 86%

Abominatrix, August 24th, 2014

The indiscretions and gleeful abandon of youth can only serve one for so long, I suppose, and at some point in the intervening time between War and Pain and this album, the Voivod and its crew seem to have broken into some of the old records facilities and learned from the books and diagrams therein. Instead of liberating old and rusty machines from the pre-apocalypse era, they've learned to build their own weapons and conveyances. Some leadership has emerged as well, letting the group appear at least on the surface to have acquired some sense of discipline.

That's not to say that the intensity of the band has been reduced on their second album. I mean, just look at the record's title! It's a monstrous ejaculation of fury and animalistic wildness! There's no denying though that Voivod has opted to clean up just a little bit. Maybe the warriors discovered that they fight better without having drunk so much? In any case, it's possible to miss that loose feeling War and Pain had, but I think that feeling will pass rather quickly once one realises how unrelentingly heavy this record is. Make no mistake: it's heavier than its predecessor, carrying a much more "metal" production, sharp guitars, cracking drums, and vocals turned down to what a real producer would probably consider a "reasonable" level. Away is really in control of his drums here, delivering at times near constant double bass that never falters or hesitates, and he's just full of crashing, tumbling fills and drum breaks that are delivered copiously throughout this fast, lean musical attack. Although the sound is quite trebbly, I actually prefer it to that of the followup album, Killing Technology, as it sounds a good deal meaner, with the guitars given a more commanding presence.

Only final song "To the Death!" is graced with an exclamation mark to cap it off, but you almost feel like they should all have them: "Fuck Off and Die!", "Korgul the Exterminator!", "Thrashing Rage!". Interestingly, these songs were all written well before the album was recorded, and some of them date back to the War and Pain days. You wouldn't really know it from this record though. I think "Slaughter in the Grave", with its more punk/Motorhead inspired tempo, probably wouldn't have differed too much were it released in 1984, and maybe I'd put "The Helldriver" in the same boat, but everything else here is fast, fast, fast....and of course, this was a year when everyone was trying to outdo each other in the speedstakes, so the general increase in tempo and intensity makes a lot of sense. It does mean a lot of these songs pass by in a bit of a whirlwind and might not make a strong impression until a few good listens. The production is better in most objective senses, but it's pretty thin compared with some of its US contemporaries, for example, and the mix is kind of skewed in favour of the drums, which means that at breakneck speed some of these riffs aren't immediately discernible. Fear not, though, because the bass is also better recorded this time round, and given a very active, up-front sort of role, meaning that if Piggy's crazy guitar antics manage to lose you, just listen for that steady grumbling yet sharp bass tone and you'll have a perfect handle on what's going on. This is a trademark of many of the subsequent Voivod albums: a very present, plucky, distinctively strong bass approach that often seems to lead the charge while Piggy magically dances over everything, liberally dispensing solos and unusual licks to his heart's content. There's an odd thing with the tempos on this album as although "Fast!" is definitely the default mode for this beast, they seem to shift rather seamlessly, in a way that you don't immediately notice that the band is playing a little faster or slower than they were previously. it's a neat effect and difficult to describe, and Away handles these little quirks like a pro, even if he's not really given the best drum sound in the world here.

"Korgul the Exterminator" begins with a melodic idea that I think the band subtly referenced in the first track of Dimension Hatross. Here of course it's much uglier and quickly erupts into a barrage of thrashing fury. "Fuck Off and Die" is enraged and over in three-and-a-half minutes; the perfect soundtrack for bludgeoning an enemy to death. This beast is really angry, despite the occasional unusual rhythm or chordal play, the likes of which you'll hear a great deal more of on the records to come. I adore "Ripping Headaches", which features some absolutely wild drums and Snake accenting the unusual bridge rhythm in an almost robotic fashion giving the feeling that he's already converted himself into a cyborg by this point. Full mechanical body replacement cannot be far away!

In some respects, this is probably Voivod's most "normal" album of the 80s. It's all about speed and mad thrashing, like many of its contemporaries. It's not quite as eccentric as the debut and certainly not as individualistic and strange as what was to come. nevertheless, if people think of Voivod as a mere thrash band, as non-fans who are unaware of their discography seem to do, they should probably be thinking of this one. If they're not, they should be educated! This is a very strong slab of 80s thrash with a bit of a punk edge and still a rather unique feeling. It's too bad this album is so hard to get a hold of as of the time of this writing.