Voivod are weird, I mean what can you expect from guys named Piggy, Snake, Blacky and Away. In any case they are the most complex and progressive heavy metal bands ever and are one of the few to mix in themes of sci-fi. Definitely trend setters, as opposed to followers. Voivod (singer Denis "Snake" Belanger, guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour, drummer Michel Langevin, and bassist Jean-Yves Theriault) was one of the early metal bands out of Canada to gain popularity outside of their home country (along with Anvil, Exciter and a few others). However, Voivod always had as a goal to be different from everyone else. They incorporated odd musical tempos and futuristic story lines into their songs, often dealing with technology taking over the world. Unfortunately this originality halted their massive popularity, despite a hardcore underground support that continues on to this day. Because of their sinking popularity, Theriault left the group right after the release of 1991's creative masterpiece 'Angel Rat.' 'The Outer Limits' followed two years later, which was 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 Forest doubled on vocals and bass, resulting in such releases as 1995's Negatron, 1997's the live set Lives. However, despite the band's return to their heavier style, even the most hardcore fans saw that without Denis "Snake" Belanger behind the mic, the band just wasn't the same. In 2001, Forrest decided to leave the band. Following his departure Voivod announced the return of Denis Belanger (aka Snake) on vocals, and the addition of Jason Newsted (ex Metallica/Flotsam & Jetsam) as a studio bassist. Here's hoping for a new studio album soon.
VOIVOD guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour passed away Friday night (August 26) at approximately 11:45 p.m. due to complications from advanced colon cancer. He was 45 years old.
fter recording several demos that were popular in the underground and recording "Condemned to the Gallows" for Metal Massacre V, Metal Blade wisely picked up Voivod. "War and Pain" was the bands first full length album. I picked it up as a new release and at the time I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. "War & Pain" is fast, chaotic, progressive, experimental, gritty, manic and delivered with a punk-like fury. For some reason the downright nasty, raw production only added to the overall appeal the album had. To this day, I still appreciate the raw recording that has an almost live quality. I think this may be due to the fact that the band was able to capture a certain live energy that is sometimes lost on studio albums. Snake's vo-kills are simply insane and quite unique. No on was doing it quite like him in the early days of thrash metal. Hailing from a French speaking part of Canada, with English as their secondary language, there is a bit of French accent that comes through in Snake's ennunciation as well which also adds to the charm. Voivoid's "War and Pain" is a genuine thrash metal classic. I've read a few negative reviews, mostly from those who caught on years later and started with albums like "Nothingface". Perhaps if you weren't there when this album was released that it might be harder to appreciate the raw quality it possesses.
In 2004, to celebrate it's release twenty years earlier, and probably to cash in on the fact that Voivod had toured with Ozzfest the year before, Metal Blade re-issued "War and Pain" as a three disc box set. The extra music included on Discs 1 & 2 are early demo and live recordings. The recording quality here is pretty bad. However, the whole thing has been given a bit of a sound boost thanks to new mastering. The extra tracks on disc one give a nice look into the history of the band and offers something for Voivod completists. Also comes with full color inserts with a ton of early photos of the band, lyrics. Disc two features an entire live show that was released as a tape demo in 1984 titled "Morgoth Invasion". The sound quality here is very poor, making this disc one of those you will listen to once or twice, then never again. The last two tracks here are covers, "Witching Hour" a Venom cover and "Chemical Warfare" a Slayer cover.
Voivod - Killing Technology (Noise) 1987
1. "Killing Technology"
Voivod step deep into the sci-fi themes on this AWESOME progressive, heavy metal monster. "Killing Technology" is one of Voivod's most well known and respected albums, overshadowed only by what is to come next. Also sports another cool cover drawing by Away.
My favorite Voivod album. This is a concept album based on aliens meeting humans, or something like that. Regardless of the storyline the music is absolutely superb. "Dimension Hatross" is a technical, progressive masterwork, with the exception of "Batman". (Yes, THE Batman.) Sort of silly, which I suppose was common for thrash bands in the late 80's.
Voivod - Nothingface (MCA/Mechanic) 1989
1."The Unknown Knows"
When Nothingface came out I can remember many fans being upset by the fact that this disc wasn't as thrash oriented as past discs. Certainly "Nothingface" is more mechanical than the band's thrashy past. Voivod slow things down a bit and get more experimental in both their songwriting and their production. Personally I respect the fact that the band tried to step out and do something different. Not only do I respect that fact, but I think they came up with a winning album on top of it. Terry Brown of Rush fame produced this album, and they really benefited from his expertise. While the band have a very thick sound, everyone is heard perfectly in the mix including the crushing bass tones. Voivod cover Sid Barrett's (Pink Floyd) "Astronomy Domain" and surprisingly, it's one of the coolest songs on this disc. "Nothingface" does have some similaries in style to "Dimension Hatross" and I like it at least as much.
Voivod - Angel Rat (Mechanic) 1991
I have yet to meet anyone who likes this disc. I'm not sure why 'cause I like it. It is vastly different from the more technical thrash metal discs that Voivod had done before; more like heavy college rock. It's almost impossible to categorize, so I guess I won't. Voivod is Voivod, they are weird, technical, and very artsy. Blacky (Jean-Yves Theriault) was not present for this album and had officially quit the band.
Voivod - Best of Voivod (Futurist) 1992
1. "Voivod" (4:17)
Essential for one reason, the unreleased track "Cockroaches," which despite it's deceiving song title is a serious Voivod-thrash number. Overall, however, putting together a "best of" collection of this band is sort of bizarre, especially with the inclusion of songs from "Angel Rat," which moves so far away from the bands thrash metal roots that it's a bit odd. Still, being a fan of all eras of the band, it's a cool listen from beginning to end. It's too bad they didn't include a few more rarities though. It would have bee cool to include "Condemned to the Gallows" from the Metal Massacre V album. Otherwise a nice collection rounding out one era of Voivod's career. A friend picked up this disc for me in Kenosha, WI for a mere $2.99.
Voivod - The Outer Limits (MCA/Mechanic) 1993
1."Fix My Heart"
While most people would say this album is very similar to "Angel Rat," I think there is a bit more aggression to "The Outer Limits." Another Pink Floyd cover, this time covering Roger Waters' "The Nile Song." The cover is ultra cool, coming with 3-D glasses. I use to own a Grand Funk Railroad album that had these kind of 3-D graphics. In any case, every page is made for the little glasses that came with the cd.
Voivod - Phobos (Hypnotic) 1997
1. "Catalepsy I"
WOW! Great comeback disc. This album starts out with an excellent instrumental that would fit on any of the early Voivod platters. The rest of the disc continues to impress with technical songwriting and loads of progessive elements. The song "M-Body" was co-written by Jason Newsted (of Metallica & Flotsam & Jetsam fame)."21st Century Schizoid Man" is a King Crimson that has also been capably covered by Forbidden. Voivod should do one of those tribute discs as they always pick out killer songs and do excellent versions, making the songs sound as if they had written them.
Voivod - Kronik (Hypnotic) 1998
1. Forlorn" [remix]
"Kronik" is an 11 track compilation consisting of four previously unreleased songs, four live tracks recorded live in Germany in 1995 and three remixes. "Ion" is the formerly unreleased track from the Heavy Metal 2000 soundtrack. "Drift" and "Erosion" are also new. The first three tracks are remixes with an industrial/techno edge. Can't say that I am a huge fan of these three tracks, although I thought "Forlorn" was decent enough. The live tracks aren't bad, but Eric Forrest is just not a good replacement for Snake. It's not that he is a bad vocalist, it's just that Snake's vocals were so unique and charismatic that something seems missing without them. Denis D'amour and Michel Langevin sound as good as could be expected, so these tracks are not unlistenable. Actually, I particularly like the Pink Floyd cover, "Astronomy Domine". "Kronik" is more like a long EP than an actual Voivod release. Looking at it as such, it's not bad. However, it's far from the best thing that Voivod has released. "Kronik" also marks the bands last release with Eric Forrest.
Voivod - Lives (Metal Blade) 2000
A live disc that compiles songs from several different shows. Unfortunately, these recordings do not feature Denis "Snake" Belanger on vocals. However, the track selection does cover a good majority of the band's catalogue, and the sound quality is good. The raw, energetic, and crunchy mix and performance adds a bit of aggression to old Voivod standards. Actually, I think that Eric Forest's vocals also add a bit of aggression to some of these songs as he is more gritty and growly than Denis ever was. Anyhow, for the breakdown, tracks 1-4 were recorded May 1996 at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in Holland, tracks 5-11 were recorded August 11, 1996 at CBGB's in New York City, tracks 13-13 were recorded live at Lubben in Stockholm, Sweden, October 14, 1999. "In League With Satan" is a Venom cover. Picked up this disc from SecondSpin.com for $5.99.
Voivod (Chophouse/Surfdog) 2003
Voivod are simply one of the most unique, recognizable and underrated bands in music history. Like King's X, I don't understand why popularity did not come their way. Voivod self-titled 13th album (thankfully) reunites original vocalist Denis "Snake" Belanger with Dennis "Piggy" D'Amour and Michel "Away" Langevin. Longtime friend and former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted is also brought into the mix. Unlike the last few albums that Snake was not a part of, Voivod is not a thrash metal album, but rather returns to the classic sounds of "Dimension Hatross" and even later era material like "Angel Rat" at times. Personally, despite being a big thrash metal fan, when it comes to Voivod, this is the stuff I prefer. However, there are points, like "Reactor," that bring back some of the old Voivod thrash and organized chaos. One thing I have always enjoyed about Voivod is their thoughtful and thought provoking lyrics. While I might not always agree with their ideas and conclusions, I can at least respect them as they are not centered around the same old clichés. Songs like "Gasmask Revival" is a call for protest while "The Multiverse" is lyrically inspired by Michael Moorcock's "Eternal Champion" series of novels. As with past Voivod releases the music is complex and technical with many tempo variations, time signature shifts, dizzying drum work etc. Newsted also proves he was really held back in Metallica with some fine bass playing that, while not out front in the mix, is easily heard and adds depth to the songs. Even the booklet evokes Voivod of old with Away doing much of the sci-fi inspired design. I really cannot see how any long time fan could possibly be disappointed with this release if given some playtime. A welcome return to form from Canada's Voivod.
It's impossible to review this CD without making mention of the fact that this very well might be the last Voivod album. One thing for sure this is the last album for guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour as he passed away on August 26, 2005 from colon cancer. Before he died, he recorded his guitar parts for this album. I have read that most of the guitars were originally recorded as demos but were used for the final album due to Piggy's untimely death. D'Amour was the king of dischordant guitar riffs. He will be greatly missed by fans worldwide. Having said that, he left us with what may be the band's finest album since "The Outer Limits". Actually, "Outer Limits" is a good comparison point. There isn't much here in the way of thrash metal, like the band's early albums, but those who appreciate the band's more futuristic heavy rock should enjoy this disc as well. As might be expected, D'Amour's guitar work is the focus of the music here. Whereas Snake's vocals seemed more out front on "Voivod", here he is more subdued in the mix. Belanger's distinctive voice weaves a wonderful melodic texture throughout the music. Part of Snake's charm is that his vocals have always been abnormal and disturbing, and that is the case here as well. Among the most hard hitting tracks here are album opener "The Getaway", "Dognation" and "No Angel". Jason Newstead seems to be gelling with the band real well and Michel Langevin's drum work is fantastic. For me, "Katorz" was an immediately likeable album. It's impossible to say whether some sentimentality plays part in this due to the loss of such a gifted and underrated guitarist. However there is something to be said for not realizing what you had til it's gone. Whether or not "Katorz" is the band's last work is yet to be established. If "Katorz" is the band's last album, it is a fitting goodbye, not only to a great band but to a fallen metal brother.
Voivod – Infini (Relapse Records) 2009
1. Voivod (4:24)
2. Condemned to the Gallows (4:56)
3. Helldriver (3:58)
4. Live for Violence (5:19)
5. War & Pain (4:54)
6. Incantation (1:54)
7. Buried Alive/Suck Your Bone (3:39)
8. Blower (3:11)
9. Slaughter in a Grave (4:37)
10. Nuclear War (7:27)
11. Black City (5:33)
12. Iron Gang (4:49)
13. Evil (3:51)
14. Bursting Out (2:50)
15. Warriors of Ice (5:11)
"To the Death '84" is a re-release of one of Voivod's early demos and is actually recorded live. In those early years of heavy metal, cassette tapes were traded in the underground and helped bands gain popularity among the growing hordes of rivetheads. No doubt the primitive live-in-the-studio recording of "To the Death" was made to be slapped onto cassette tapes, stuffed into envelopes destined for record labels in hopes of snagging a deal, as well as into the hands of all those 'zine reading metalheads across the globe looking for the next undiscovered heavy metal band.
"To The Death 84" contains tracks from the upcoming first two releases of the band that are "War And Pain" and "Rrröööaaarrr", as well as a few covers. In these early years, Voivod still wore their influences on their sleeves. Obviously Venom were a huge influence to the Canadian thrash metal quartet, so much so that they cover a couple Venom songs here, "Buried Alive" and "Bursting Out". ("Evil" is a Mercyful Fate cover.) However, there are hints of Motorhead and some definite punk influences as well. The music is fast, aggressive, and chaotic. Despite the rough recording quality, the sound isn't really any worse than the band's officially debut album on Metal Blade. In fact, the great thing about this demo is it captures the band's manic energy and punk-like aggression more-so than the studio platters. The bass is very audible in the mix and Snake's vocals sound very raw, but also very natural compared to the studio albums. Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour's distinctive guitar work and buzz-saw riffing is audibly out-front and showcases his skill even in these early years, switching effortlessly from lead to rhythm guitar.
"To the Death 84" is well worth obtaining and essential for Voivod fans. Not only does it offer energetic versions of all the songs off "War And Pain" and some from "Rrröööaaarrr" but it also offers a rare glimpse into the birth of one of metal's most diverse and under-appreciated bands.
Voivod - Target Earth (Century Media) 2013
Voivod - Post Society (Century Media) 2016