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Voivod- Target Earth - 85%

stenchofishtar, March 23rd, 2014

Canadian eccentrics Voivod return here on good form, with an album that is accessible in the same way ‘Angel Rat’ and ‘The Outer Limits’ were. Yet it retains a complexity and discordance that is in tow with ‘Dimension Hatross’ and ‘Nothingface’, albeit more with a more compact and contemporary twist.

This has always been to their advantage; as many speed metal bands of the 80′s became accessible for the purpose of more commercial appeal, Voivod were able to retain a vitality in their output that didn't shift as many copies as ‘The Black Album’ or ‘Countdown To Extinction’, but retained its cutting edge without any of the watering down.

Always moving with the times, yet always keeping heads above water, ‘Target Earth” continues the bands fixation towards science fiction concepts, having a similar musical approach that could be compared to Killing Joke’s more recent work. The crunchy production job also echoes this influence, made prominent by the loud, upfront drums of Away, who is quite high up in the mix.

Whilst the guitars swirl a cosmic vacuum upfront, Blacky’s bass is thankfully thrown up in the mix and given plenty of room to breath, as well as plenty of short intervals in which to accentuate itself, whilst the ghostly and surreal French-Canadian croon/snarl of Snake narrates, guides and glues each song together.

Daniel Mongrain is an excellent addition to the band on guitar, and whilst his form of guitar playing is consistent with that of Piggy’s, it is not imitative. Capturing a similar disjointedness and staccato as his predecessor, there is an excellent transition between riffs and imaginative solo playing. A fluidity not unlike what one would hear on Obliveon’s ‘From This Day Forward’ or Supuration’s ‘The Cube’ is present here, but with more angular chord playing.

Particular highlights include the opening title track, the excellent ‘Mechanical Mind’ and the psychedelic ‘Empathy For The Enemy’. To the uninitiated, ‘Target Earth’ might take a couple of spins to work any of its wonder, though will surely satisfy devotees of the band, as it works the different points of their catalogue into a cohesive whole.

A decent start to 2013.