Review

VOIVOD Angel Rat

Album · 1991 · Progressive Metal
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3/5 ·
Modrigue
Grunge from outer space?

First VOIVOD studio album from the 90's, "Angel Rat" marks a musical orientation change from dark thrash prog metal towards more accessible "space grunge". Fans of the 80's stuff from the Canadians may be a bit disappointed at first listen. It's also the last record with bassist Jean-Yves Thériault (Blacky). However, "accessible" does not necessarily mean of lesser interest, and grunge is a subgenre that VOIVOD influenced. In fact, the band has been cited as a reference by the members of NIRVANA, due to their particular dissonant sonorities.

Furthermore, there's still a bit of metal as well as typical VOIVOD tortured sounds in this opus. Therefore, "Angel Rat" is more a logical evolution than a radical turn, and thus deserves attention.

The first half of the disc is the most interesting. "Shortwave Intro" is a short electronic opening for the powerful and somber "Panorama". Its dynamic riff sets the tone for the rest of the album. "Clouds In My House" and "The Prow" are efficient grunge songs with a few spacey touches and haunting moments. Very nice. "The Prow" may be my favorite of the disc, ideal to navigate aboard a cosmic ship! "Best Regards" is a cool 80's heavy rock with some changes, while the dissonant "Twin Dummy" is a bit average. After this sonic deluge, calm comes back momentarily with the title track. An enjoyable alternative rock track, nothing more.

The second half of the record is unfortunately not as good. The hard grunge "Golem" and the US big rock "The Outcast" are not very convincing. The best and most original passage of this second half is undoubtedly "Nuage Fractal". This strangely named space rock will you make you travel through the dark universe! "Freedoom" is another alternative rock song, but more peaceful and floating this time. Not bad, but does not really maintain attention until near the ending. The disc concludes with the average "None Of The Above".

Neither very progressive nor often cited by fans, "Angel Rat" contains however very good tracks that should interest the fans. Even if the overall result is unequal, the band manages to keep their musical identity while merging their style in the then nascent grunge genre. Don't pick this disc if you're looking for heavy/thrash prog metal, but if want punchy, accessible and a little somber rock, or just to discover VOIVOD, then you can go for it.
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