Genre: Voivod metal
The legendary Canadian metal act Voivod is, along with Watchtower, Realm and to some extent Antithesis, among the most innovative bands on the thrash scene, and, with their eclectic style which is situated somewhere in a borderland between thrash metal and progressive rock, Voivod have always made original music. The band has suffered the revolving door effect in their line-up, and in 2005 the band was struck by tragedy when their guitarist and main composer Denis "Piggy" D'Amour died from cancer. D'Amour was, with his inspiration from Rush, King Crimson and Pink Floyd, the band's main source when it came to the progressive and experimental side of their music, and their characteristic use of dissonant chords and unconventional song structures were largely courtesy of d'Amours deliberately chaotic approach to writing music.
Consequently, many fans feared that Voivod would never be the same again without him. And, no, it will probably never be quite the same, but on their Target Earth-album the Canadians show that Voivod still Voivod, and that they can still create unique progressive metal. Thus, the title track has an almost jazzy character at times (much the same way as the Pestilence's brilliant Spheres), while 'Kluskap O'Kom' has a slightly crusty sound combined with elements of speed-power metal. 'Empathy for the Enemy' features jazz-inspired progressive hard rock that sometimes crosses over into a King Crimson-inspired sound (along the lines of 'Lark's Tongue in Aspic'), while 'Mechanical Mind' is characterized by challenging, unconventional chords and offers on some pretty bridge passages. In Resistance' Voivod combine rhythms that are pretty much straightforward with more quirky chords and harmonies, and there is an interesting congruence-contrast relation between this and the following track 'Kaleidos' while 'Corps Etranger' combines the ethereal with the aggressive with a good deal of dissonance on top.
The production is tight and unpolished (but of course not lo-fi), and the dissonant elements and other oddities are allowed to shine through. The drums have a fat – nay, a phat – bottom, and the bass is distorted in the usual Voivod fashion. Dennis "Snake" Bélangers vocals have an almost grungy feel that gives the already experimental music an slight introspective touch, but he shows when he can easily provide more aggressive singing, if need be, as heard in parts of the quirky 'Warchaic'.
Voivod have always challenged their listeners, and they continue to do so do on this album. If you are not already a fan of progressive and quirky music, you might not be albe to handle this album, but fans of progressive and experimental music should definitely give Voivod's latest effort a spin, and fans of the band need not fear that Target Earth does not sound like Voivod - in fact, I think that d'Amour would be proud of the way the band carries on the Voivod spirit.
(review originally posted at seaoftranquility.org)