[22nd January 2013]
01. Target Earth
02. Kluskap O’Kom
03. Empathy For The Enemy
04. Mechanical Mind
08. Corps Étranger
Welcome back to Voivod, who have spent the last four years feverishly touring and getting themselves back in gear after they finally paid their full tribute to their departed member Denis D’Amour, giving the band a bit more freedom and a welcome breath of fresh air.
Enter Target Earth, the band’s sixteenth album overall, and the first since 1991′s Angel Rat to feature Jean-Yves Theriault (Blacky) on bass, as well as new member and guitarist Daniel Mongrain (Chewy) formerly of many Montreal bands such as Cryptopsy, Gorguts, and Quo Vadis. The fresh blood makes for a much fresher sounding album than the band’s previous two releases (Katorz and Infini).
So what do the revitalized Voivod have to offer you? Plenty of great music that may very well be their best album in nearly twenty years.
The album’s title track is a monster of an opener and features all of the members Denis Belanger (Snake) and Michel Langevin (Away) prominently, with Chewy helping to ease the pain of Denis D’Amour’s (Pigvgy) untimely passing. Blacky’s bass is high in the mix and Away slams through the drum kit like a man possessed; not to mention the unique and odd vocal style of Snake. The band really digs deep and finds a lot of their more chaotic sound (Killing Technology) as well as their heavily progressive side (Dimension Hatröss, Nothingface) and makes quite the formidable track to sink your teeth into. “Empathy For The Enemy” features more of the angular riffing fans might expect, as well as odd time signatures from a band well versed in their progressive lineage.
The very beginning of “Mechanical Mind” has Chewy and Blacky playing off one another, and seems as if it’s being poached from the band’s albums from the late ’80s – yet the band is able to modernize the sound and make it as much their own as humanly possible. This is exactly the sound that Voivod’s fans (including this one) have been clamoring for, and we have been given the wonderful gift of Target Earth, satiating the hunger that has existed for some fans nearly as long as this reviewer has been alive. Chewy is also not afraid to hit you hard with a guitar solo here and there, much like the one at 4:50 which is an absolute beast – and the rhythm section backing him on it makes it that much stronger.
If fast-paced is your taste for this kind of thrash, look no further than “Resistance“, which plows straight ahead and puts the band’s specific spin on the genre as Snake apes his work on Angel Rat here. The tempos are very brash and in your face, except when the pace slows in the final two minutes or so, and sees the band giving in to their science fiction side; the vocals sounding as if they are being sung by some sort of extra-terrestrial. If bass is more your thing, however, you will love Blacky’s bombastic playing on “Kaleidos“. He is right behind Chewy the whole time, but his presence is more than felt and in the twenty two years of his absence it has to be tracks like this that make it more obvious why the band needed him. Even the excellent, odd guitar tones you would have found on “Astronomy Domine” and “Experiment” are here, making Chewy’s job that much more well done.
Take all of the aforementioned information and Voivod have nearly topped their magnum opus Nothingface, not an easy task to pull off by any means. If you are a fan of both prog as well as thrash or were a Voivod fan waiting for the band to reach back for some of their older sound; they have embraced it in all of it’s form here and Target Earth is a sure fire album to make this author’s end of year list.