Saturday, January 16, 2016

REVIEW - Voivod: Post Society





For nearly 35 years, Voivod's greatest strength has been their utter inability to fit in anywhere.

At the height of Glam in the 1980s, the Canadian group sounded like they were from another planet. Often lumped in with the underground Thrash scene (because that was the closest anyone could get to pinning an actual genre on them at the time), the band steadily built an underground following by creating experimental music that took more cues from King Crimson and Killing Joke than it ever did from Metallica or Megadeth. Albums like 1987's Killing Technology, 1988's Dimension Hatröss and 1989's Nothingface established them as a thinking person's Metal band willing to take chances. Although they have received temporary flashes of mainstream attention over the years (most notably during former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted's membership in the group in the 2000s), Voivod remains a band on the fringes, consistently delivering songs that sound like nobody else.

The band's new five-song EP, Post Society, is comprised of two brand new tracks (Post Society” and “Fall”), songs from their 2015 split singles with Napalm Death (“Forever Mountain”) and At The Gates (“We Are Connected”) and a cover of Hawkwind's “Silver Machine.” Moving away from the more streamlined musical approach of the Newsted era, Voivod are back to fully embracing the twisted tempo changes and technical dynamics of the Dimension Hatröss days of old. Kick-started with a distorted intro by new bassist Dominique “Rocky” Laroche, the title track launches the EP with a six-minute blast that alternates between the frenetic and the serene. Sophisticated interplay between Laroche and original drummer Michel “Away” Langevin (the only member to appear on every Voivod release) fuels the epic “Forever Mountain,” providing a strong foundation for guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain to demonstrate with great skill (and the requisite dissonance) why he was the right player to take over for the late Denis “Piggy” D'Amour. This trend continues on “Fall,” which grows in intensity over seven fascinating minutes thanks in large part to long-serving singer Denis "Snake" Bélanger's trademark nasal grunt/whine assault. The very first song written by the current lineup, the multi-layered “We Are Connected,” ranks among Voivod's strongest work and shows that they are still exploring the world of sound 32 years after their debut album.

While the mighty Hawkwind are esoteric enough on their own, the incarnation of “Silver Machine” that appears on Post Society is characteristically Voivod – darker, with reinvented rhythms and unexpected turns in the guitar department. The band not only pays homage to innovators from generations past, but they succeed in giving “Silver Machine” a completely new sonic perspective. It's not easy to reevaluate and reconstruct an already perfect song, but Voivod is absolutely the band to do it.

Containing some of Voivod's strongest moments in years, Post Society will undoubtedly be viewed less as a between-album stopgap and appreciated more for what it truly is – an essential addition to one of the most adventurous discographies in music history.

Post Society is out February 26 on Century Media.

Photo courtesy of Century Media

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