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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' (" 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...