VOIVOD — The Outer Limits

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VOIVOD - The Outer Limits cover
4.28 | 29 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1993

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. Fix My Heart (4:55)
2. Moonbeam Rider (4:10)
3. Le Pont Noir (5:43)
4. The Nile Song (4:00)
5. The Lost Machine (5:52)
6. Time Warp (3:54)
7. Jack Luminous (17:28)
8. Wrong-Way Street (3:50)
9. We Are Not Alone (4:25)

Total Time: 54:21


- Denis Bélanger (Snake) / Vocals
- Denis D-Amour (Piggy) / Guitar, Keyboards
- Michel Langevin (Away) / Drums
- Pierre St-Jean / Bass

About this release

Released on MCA Records

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Nothingface had been a turning point for Voivod in '89, cementing a trait of constant re-structuring and fine-tuning for every subsequent album for the band. The next LP Angel Rat began to hint at a future where Voivod would become an innovative piece of the prog metal scene, but as an album itself was a bit of a shaky change of tone. This loss of footing was completely thrown out the window with it's followup titled The Outer Limits. A fresh, slightly manufactured sound rife with complexity and creative promise was prevalent, without losing the classic aggressive elements of their past.

The track-list provides an albeit cluttered set of unique elements that range from the dark, melodramatic 'Le Pont Noir' to the heavy-footed stomp of 'The Nile Song' and 'The Lost Machine', to gargantuan 'Jack Luminous'. The Outer Limits has some of Voivod's most interesting and eclectic work to date, and surpasses many albums that followed it. If you are one for mind-challenging music in the metal vein, then this is an album you should definitely check out.
The trouble with following the work of a band like Voivod, who've always made a virtue of regularly re-examining, rebuilding and refreshing their sound, is that sooner or later they're probably going to come up with an experiment which loses you. The more regularly they change up their sound, the more likely it is that they'll hit on something which just doesn't suit your tastes or otherwise clashes aesthetically with what you're looking for. That's not your fault or the fault of the act in question, it's just part for the course.

For me, Voivod hits this point with The Outer Limits, where they seem to be trying to do this balancing act between catchy, melodic numbers (like opener Fix My Heart) and pieces that'll appeal to their prog fanbase (such as the epic Jack Luminous), and it's this confused approach which robs the album of the cohesion that releases like Nothingface enjoyed. (Plus, they picked one of the least interesting Pink Floyd songs to cover this time around.) Fun, still, but not peak Voivod.
Conor Fynes
'The Outer Limits' - Voivod (9/10)

Like many of the best bands, Canadian progressive thrash legends Voivod have been known to reinvent their sound with each album. From their beginnings as a more run-of-the mill metal band, Voivod took leaps and bounds into progressive territory with 'Nothingface', a schizoid rockfest which has since become a thrash landmark and one of my favourite albums ever. For the next handful of albums after that, Voivod would continue to change up their sound, and this streak of changes would culminate with 'The Outer Limits', an album which takes the band's science fiction themes to new conceptual heights. Although I cannot say that Voivod's seventh outing has the same unique vibe and charm as their crowning work 'Nothingface', 'The Outer Limits' is an incredible album that tales some time to grow on the listener, and results as an exciting masterpiece from one of the best progressive metal acts ever.

Quite contrary to the proggy, frenetic and unconventional metal riffing I have heard from Voivod in the past, 'The Outer Limits' opens with a deceptively straightforward number, 'Fix My Heart' is the sort of track you would expect to hear from a hard rock band like Deep Purple; a driving rock with bluesy licks and fills. An instantly likable track for those who don't need their metal to be particularly brutal or heavy, the song did not originally hit me as being excellent, but a few listens in convinced me otherwise. Instantly memorable melodies and some excellent straightforward riffage from Denis L'Amour opens 'The Outer Limits' on an exciting note. Things get somewhat more complex and atmospheric from here on in, however.

'Le Pont Noir' was among the first Voivod songs I ever heard years ago that really struck my notice, and in the context of the album, it is even better. Trailing two fairly upbeat-oriented songs, the track is hypnotic, mysterious and eerie. Reminding me often of a metal-oriented sound of The Doors, vocalist Snake's vocals really shine here. He has never been among the more technically accomplished singers, but his voice really works for the sound here, along with much of the music on 'The Outer Limits'.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of 'The Outer Limits' is the seventeen minute epic 'Jack Luminous', which has received otherworldly amounts of praise in the past as being one of the most excellent pieces of progressive metal. Although its quality is evident right from the start, I must say that 'Jack Luminous' is a piece of music that takes several listens to appreciate fully, and is the biggest reason bar none as to why 'The Outer Limits' is a grower piece. Taking a tongue-in-cheek science fiction concept with a keen social commentary and setting it to music, there are plenty of sections to this song, but the melodies are kept strong. One thing that potentially harms the impact of 'Jack Luminous' is that it does not have the same cohesion as a more well-known prog metal epic like '2112' or 'A Change Of Seasons', instead going more down the route of being a musical journey of ideas, with an implied beginning, middle and end. As it stands though, the musical ideas work so well together on the track that it certainly takes its rightful place as being one of Voivod's greatest achievements.

The songwriting on the album is consistently strong, and it may come as a surprise to some that the only potential flop on the album is the Pink Floyd cover of 'The Nile Song', a relatively obscure track from Floyd's 'More'. Although the song does little to deter the rest of the album, it simply does not have the same charm as the earlier Pink Floyd cover of 'Astronomy Domine' that Voivod played on 'Nothingface'.

'The Outer Limits' is arguably Voivod's most mature record, as well as being remarkably consistent throughout. Quite a bit more streamlined and to-the-point as much of the earlier work, this album is a natural development from 'Angel Rat', but really takes Voivod's staple themes of science fiction to greater depths. The album takes a while to warm up, and doesn't have quite the same jaw-dropping effect as 'Nothingface', but while less immediate, 'The Outer Limits' is one of the best prog metal albums to be released in the early '90s.

Members reviews

King Crimson goes Sci-fi Thrash Metal

I think this is the appropriate description for this album since the songs are a bit more leaned towards construction than on the rest of their earlier albums. Usually when a band starts to create more construction-based songs, they loose a bit from their dynamic...not the case with Voivod! Similar to King Crimson's "Islands" (especially with the astonishing resemblance between 'Sailor's Tale'/'Jack Luminous'), "The Outer Limits" flawlessly combine Voivod's dynamic thrash metal characteristics with precision, accuracy and their already-known catchy riffs.

PS: I would also compare this album's release to Amon Duul II's "Tanz der Leminge".
The first album after the departure of bass guitar player "Blacky" and the last album before the departure of singer "Piggy" has nothing of a lack of inspiration, motivation or energy that many other metal albums had at this time. The band is still in development on this album, still tries out some new things and is very creative. This album is a true highlight in the metal world in a time which became more and more dominated by grunge and alternative rock.

Let us just talk about the style of the album. The album title is inspired by the pioneer series of science-fiction from the early sixties, the album cover looks like one of those weekly book series printed on a cheesy yellow press, the band delivers the paintings of strange creatures in the booklet which you can observe with some 3D glasses which are delivered with the album. The album style takes an interesting and intense look at the past of science fiction and the future in the same time. So do the songs on this album.

The opener "Fix My Heart" has nothing of an old song, it sounds fresh, straight and creative. It is dreamy, hypnotic and has several interesting breaks and changes of style. While the last effort of the band has been a very atmospheric and hypnotic progressive rock album which stayed always in the same atmosphere, this album defines the notion of progressive metal as it should be. You don't need a symphonical thirt minute suite with keyboard solos, you need a diversified opener with a length of five minutes that is more significant than any pseudo-epic progressive tune at that time.

On the other hand, the bands honours their heroes and show the other side of the medal by delivering the epic, weird and unique "Jack Luminous", their seventeen minutes lasting epic masterpiece. Even in this great song, there are some lengths, but the band doesn'ty do the mistake to include more songs of thatr kind of this or later releases. And as an experimental exception and little honour to their progressive rock heroes from the seventies, this works very well.

This album shows old school and modern progressive sound, the band sounds diversified without being faceless or in search of a concret structure, the album stays always logical and there are a lot of weird sounds to discover. The songs grow more and more on you and request multiple listening tries. A few songs like "Moonbeam rider" do not reach the high level of perfection as "Fix My Heart" or "Jack Luminous" and are just average songs. An exception is the throughout brilliantly done guitar playing by Piggy who does maybe the best job of his career on this album and gives this album a very unqiue style.

This album finishes a progressive trilogy which really began with "Nothingface", reached its top with "Angel Rat" and its closure with "The Outer Limits". On every of those records, the band sounded different and every album has its own special approach to the genre. This is a trilogy to get for every progressive metal or rock fan even though it might be difficult to listen to for a fan of the band's earlier and later works. But Voivod has always changed its style and improved, they have always been different. And that's why they were always able to surprise, never made the big breakthrough, but are one of the most perfect and heavily underrated bands in the world for everyone who knows them a little bit better.

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