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Voivod were one of the first thrash bands from Canada to gain popularity outside of their home country. From their beginnings in the early '80s, their main goal was to be different from anyone else. They created an iconoclastic sound that ranged from screaming thrash to Rush-style prog to straightforward hard rock, but every album contains their sonic DNA, evidenced by dissonant chords, odd and quickly shifting time signatures, homemade sound effects, and manic, thundering drums. After a pair of raw but rewarding offerings, they came into their own by embracing prog elements on 1987's Killing Technology and 1988's Dimension Hatröss. Their personnel has shifted over time, but their relentless quest for musical invention remained (and eventually focused on post-psychedelic metal) on later recordings such as 2018's Wake.
Such early releases as 1984's War and Pain and 1986's Rrröööaaarrr showed that the quartet was aligned with the then up-and-coming thrash metal movement epitomozed by Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, eventually letting prog rock influences seep in on 1987's Killing Technology and 1988's Dimension Hatröss. By the time 1989's Nothingface, their major-label debut for MCA, Voivod had perfected their trademark fusion style, resulting in the most commercially successful release of their career -- spearheaded by a video for their cover of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine" (which enjoyed airings on MTV's Headbangers Ball) and a headlining club tour over a pair of bands that would soon change the landscape of alt-rock by the early '90s, Soundgarden and Faith No More.
But just as it appeared that Voivod might be able to break through to a wider audience, Theriault left the group right after the release of 1991's Angel Rat, as the album quickly sank from sight while the rest of the rock world focused its attention on the burgeoning alt-rock/Seattle movement. The Outer Limits followed two years later, followed shortly thereafter by Belanger's exit from the band. By the mid-'90s, Voivod's lineup had been scaled down to a trio -- newcomer Eric Forrest doubled on vocals and bass, resulting in such releases as 1995's Negatron and 1997's Phobos. The odds-and-ends compilation Kronik and the live set Lives saw release in 2000. In early 2001, the remaining members decided to call it a day when Forrest departed. The band reunited later that year with Belanger back on board; they also enlisted a new bassist, Jason Newsted, formerly of Metallica, resulting in the eponymous Voivod album.
In August of 2005, guitarist "Piggy" d'Amour succumbed to complications from colon cancer. The band was in the middle of recording a new album; on his deathbed, he instructed his bandmates on how to complete his contributions to the band's forthcoming offering, Katorz, which arrived in 2006. Piggy left numerous songs and arrangements for another album on his laptop. In 2009, Voivod took those demos, guitar parts, and arrangements and structured the album Infini from them, without editing, re-recording, or overdubbing his guitar. The band toured the album across Europe, Japan, and North America with Martyr's Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain on guitar. A 2009 show at Montreal's Club Soda featuring members Belanger, Langevin, Mongrain, and (returning) bassist "Blacky" Theriault was recorded; it was eventually released as Warriors of Ice on Sonic Unyon Metal in 2011. Voivod released their 13th studio album, Target Earth, in January of 2013. The single "Kluskap O'Kom" followed. Blacky left again in 2014 and was replaced by Dominique "Rocky" Laroche.
Voivod toured for the next year and in 2015 released a pair of split singles: "We Are Connected" b/w "Language of the Dead" by At the Gates, and "Forever Mountain" b/w "Phonetics for the Stupefied" by Napalm Death. Those two tracks, a cover of Hawkwind's "Silver Machine," and two new songs made up the Post Society EP released by Century Media in February 2016. Two years later, the full-length The Wake arrived.
Recorded and mixed by Francis Perron at Canada's RadicArt Recording Studio, it consisted of futuristic prog/thrash metal and mutant psychedelia. ~ John Book & Greg Prato
- Montreal, Quebec
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