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5 stars "As soon as I started listening to 'The Wake' by Voivod, I was enthralled. They have created a multiverse of musical ideas both lyrically and sonically. 'The Wake' is the fourteenth studio album for the band and first full-length release with bassist Dominique Laroche ('Rocky'). Rocky and guitarist Daniel Mongrain ('Chewy') planted the seeds for the new music which germinated under the combine forces of vocalist Denis B'langer ('Snake') and drummer Michel Langevin ('Away').

'The Wake' tells the story of the demise of the human race at the hands of a terrible force unleashed from under the seas. The story swirls with lysergic intensity like such classics as 'Naked Lunch', 'War of the Worlds', and '1984'. Reality is questioned in a chaotic maelstrom shaped upon a sonic canvas that only Voivod can create. Snake's lyrics provide a vast palate for your imagination to run wild.

What makes 'The Wake' a masterpiece is the beautiful cinematic weave of music throughout the album. Each song creates a scene which fade in and out of each act to move the story forward. The story begins with 'Obsolete Beings'. The swirling miasma intro breaks into a looping gallop of drums and bass with chunky guitars and elegant arpeggios. Soon we hear one of many wonderful guitar solos by Chewy. He makes his guitar sing with lyrical beauty. The ethereal break near the end of the song changes up the timing as Snake croons 'Is there some use for mankind?'

The military cadence of 'The End of Dormancy' presents the catalyst of the story of 'The Wake'. The bass tone is menacing as it affixes to the drums creating dramatic tension. This song showcases the brilliant mix on the album. All instruments are clear and present. The special effects of acoustic guitars sprayed into the front of the mix provides a dash of color. The final splashing gong ends the scene before 'Orb Confusion'.

Voivod - REVIEW: VOIVOD - "The Wake"

While the album is a concept in total, you can pull apart each song to enjoy on their own. One standout song is 'Iconspiracy'. The opening of the song features chunky metallic riffs before upending the song in the middle with a sharp staccato riff accented with a string section. This phrase accelerates into a shredding guitar solo that is hammered home by the frantic pulse of drum and bass. The final encore of 'Sonic Mycelium' encapsulates all the phenomenal musical subthemes that constitute The Wake within a single song. Just as the word mycelium evokes the definition of 'more than one' and imagery of a complex web of interconnected life, so does this song. This isn't simply a re-hash of prior parts of the album, but a complete restructuring. The joy and elegance of this tune shines with the Floydian chords from 'Always Moving' giving way to a majestic string ensemble. Put this album on repeat and enjoy the rest of the year listening to the genius of Voivod.

'The Wake' by Voivod is musical perfection of the highest order. On this record, the band has created a cinematic progressive metal masterpiece which yields a twisting tale of mankind's demise. Few bands have spent their entire careers ingeniously creating art that is as compelling and provocative as Voivod. 'The Wake' stands at the top of an impressive catalog of musical endeavors that will intrigue new and old fans until we vanish beneath the seas." (Chuck

Report this review (#2042081)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Like any great band that has been around for well over three decades, Quebec's best progressive thrash metal export VOIVOD has gone through its own ups, downs and serious changes ever since they emerged in 1982 out of the frigid northern Canadian city of Jonquière. Haven taken the metal world by storm in the late 80s with their unique blend of dissonant progressive punk laden thrash that forged a new strain of sci-fi based metal with classics like "Killing Technology," "Dimension Hatröss" and "Nothingface," VOIVOD created its own distinctive style that has literally slinked by through the decades with no other band even coming close to emulating. VOIVOD in effect created their own mini-universe that found the perfect mix of dissonant King Crimson inspired guitar riffs and Pink Floyd inspired psychedelia dished out in an unduly Motörhead meets Venom belligerence all the while wrapped up in conceptual tales of cyborgs and futuristic dystopia. In effect, VOIVOD was and remains one of a kind despite all the trials and tribulations of weathering a multi-decade career. And well into the 21st century is back with the much anticipated 14th studio THE WAKE. The cryogenic slumber is over.

While VOIVOD's history includes the usual melange of music biz woes such as members coming and going throughout the years, perhaps no blow was as devastating as losing one of the founding members whose signature sound literally defined the band from a mere pluck of a power chord. Denis D'Amour or better known as Piggy practically trademarked VOIVOD's anarchic and experimental thrash metal idiosyncrasies more than any other members so when he succumbed to colon cancer in 2005 at the tender age of 45 years, it was indubitably a painful time for the band and easily could've spelled the ultimate end of the road for this classic unparalleled metal band. However instead of making any rash decisions during the mourning process, founding members Michel Langevin (Away) and Denis Bélanger (Snake) took some time to honor the memory of their fallen guitar hero with a couple albums of material that had already been written with guitar parts already recorded by Piggy and waited to see how it all played out. Two albums, "Katorz" and "Infini" found posthumous releases of Piggy's guitar playing which the band recorded as a tribute to Piggy's legacy but in order to sally forth into the next chapter, a new guitarist was essential. How could a band continue when their signature member was no more?

With Piggy's art-metal riffage as his primary driving force to become a guitarist and musical innovator, fellow Quebecker Daniel Mongrain (now Chewy) of Trois-Rivière luckily grew up as one of VOIVOD's most rabid fans and early on learned how to play the band's entire canon of music. Having become the seasoned tech metal guitarist in blistering bands such as Martyr, Gorguts and Capharnaum as well as boasting a degree in jazz-interpretation from the University of Montreal, Mongrain proved to be the perfect gift from the gods to give VOIVOD the chance to fill the unfillable shoes of the great Piggy. While armed with that secondary degree in VOIVOD-ology, Mongrain, um Chewy that is, was also the band's biggest fan and in a respectful fashion forged the perfect marriage of marrying Piggy's legacy with the next chapter that would propel VOIVOD into the 21st century. While his debut performance with the band began with "Target Earth," he wasn't exactly given free reign yet to unleash his magic. After that album's lackluster performance, the members agreed that something needed to change to make this transition gestate to the next level and what better way to honor the great Piggy's legacy than to honor the period that most suited him, namely the progressive thrash era of the late 80s that found their most successful album "Nothingface" catapulting VOIVOD onto the world's stage.

The new VOIVOD was born in 2016 with founding members Snake and Away at the helm and Daniel Mongrain, now Chewy in charge of the future direction of the guitar. Along for the ride was newbie bassist Dominque Laroche who was christened as the fledgling Rocky and together this new incarnation recorded and released the EP "Post Society" which was an advertisement of VOIVOD's long lost return to progressive form with thundering dissonant guitar riffs that would make Piggy proud, chugging interstellar beats, progressive meanderings into time signature rich frenzies that all conspire to take post-punk detours into psychedelic dreams and of course Snake's distinct, now classic vocal rampage through the technically infused thrash metal domain. With unprecedented almost unanimous praise, the lauded EP begat the next phase of VOIVOD's triumphant return to form. Two years later we arrive at the magnificence of what is called THE WAKE, which in the footsteps of "Post Society" successfully takes the progressively fueled sci- fi journey back into the cosmos and dishes out VOIVOD's best album since 1989's "Nothingface." A whopping 36 years after their humble inception, VOIVOD are back on top of their game!

Right from the first sound effects of "Obsolete Beings" that breaks into a galloping wallop of thrash dissonance, it's clear that VOIVOD have crafted a winner with THE WAKE. With the classic elements all having fallen into place, the band build upon their progressive thrash phase with more adventurous compositions, more daring ventures into quieter moments and even the unthinkable terrain of classically inspired orchestral moments with six guest musicians adding touches on violins, viola, cello, extra percussion and even bones! However don't be mistaken for a minute that VOIVOD has mellowed out. These extra touches provide atmospheric touches above and beyond the psychedelia and thrash outbursts that dominate THE WAKE. Don't forget that "Nothingface" contained many riffs that were inspired by Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite Of Spring." Likewise THE WAKE implements classical and jazz techniques that supplement the main metal framing and are secondary to the majestic classic VOIVOD sound that has become so utterly irresistible. Each track is unique and utterly anthemic in that the eight compositions highlight the classic sound while evolving it into a whole new reality.

With their musical chops brought up to date, VOIVOD also relaunch their sci-fi fueled lyrical fantasy world with tracks like "The End Of Dormancy" narrating the tale of an underwater alien craft that is resuscitated after millions of years of dormancy and once reconstituted immediately begins to destroy the entire human race. The musical accompaniment is in sublime tandem with the lyrical output as the segments highlight the emotional response and one progressive unit segues into the next. It's hard to come up with a standout track because the fact is that ALL of the tracks stand out as each is intricately crafted to carry the maximum amount of variations allowed by law. Never before has VOIVOD generated so many disparate ideas and musical elements into their works. THE WAKE is by far their most progressively infused offering to date and easily surpasses their best works of the 80s in terms of complexity and adventurous ambitiousness. In fact, THE WAKE is like the soundtrack to a sci-fi battle where the music itself narrates the dramatic exchange of fire with the lyrics merely defining the context.

While every track is unique and tells the tale of this VOIVOD inspired apocalyptic multiverse, the highlight is saved until the end where the multifarious "Sonic Mycelium" provides a progressive jazz metal reprise of the entire album's creative stampede with one incessant curveball after another. In an age when classic metal bands are entering their multi-decade existence, very rarely does a band match the creative prowess of the heyday especially after the loss of the prime move and shaker that made them stand out in the first place, but VOIVOD has crafted the unthinkable late game masterpiece that is actually more creative, more dynamic and more labyrinthine than any other album of their career including their previous peak of progressiveness of three decades prior. It seems that VOIVOD have been given the gift of a perfect chemistry of the cast members as this album is utterly flawless. The chemistry of the musicians is absolutely divine and the band interplay is impeccable. THE WAKE is a multi-faceted masterpiece. It not only has the hooks to sink deep into your skin upon the very first listen but has the chops to allow the listener to burrow ever deeper on subsequent listens to decipher the unfathomable trenches for exploration. So profound is THE WAKE that i do believe this is my unquestionable best metal album of 2018!

Report this review (#2110103)
Posted Friday, December 21, 2018 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Wake" is the 14th full-length studio album by Canadian progressive/thrash metal act Voivod. The album was released through Century Media Records in September 2018. It´s the successor to "Target Earth" from 2013 and features one lineup change as bassist Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault has been replaced by Dominic "Rocky" Laroche. Thériault´s second tenure with Voivod had not been without issues, and a change in personale was needed to keep the ship afloat. While it´s been 5 years since the release of "Target Earth (2013)", Voivod have not been dormant in the intermediate years, but have released a string of minor releases (singles, splits, and EPs), a compilation album, and a boxset, and they have toured quite a lot too.

"The Wake" continues the sci-fi themed progressive metal style of "Target Earth (2013)" and feels like a natural successor (although "Target Earth (2013)" is overall a little more raw and thrashy). It´s through and through the sound of Voivod. Creative dissonant guitar riffs and jazz/fusion influenced guitar solos, heavy bass lines, organic drumming, and lead vocalist Denis "Snake" Belanger´s distinct sounding vocals in front. Voivod were never an easy or accessible listen, and they haven´t eased up on the oddities or the adventurous and challenging songwriting on "The Wake" either. The surprise element may be gone after all these years (although the successful use of a string quartet on "Iconspiracy" and "Sonic Mycelium" definitely is something new in the Voivod universe), but Voivod are still a force to be reckoned with, both musically and creatively.

Voivod have been through some different musical phases in their long career and if I have to compare the sound and atmosphere on "The Wake" to something else the band have released, if would be a combination of the three albums released in the years 1989-1993. The music on "The Wake" features some of the odd and twisted musical ideas and dissonant riffs of "Nothingface (1989)", the occasional melodic moment similar to "Angel Rat (1991)", and the sci- fi atmospheres and storytelling of "The Outer Limits (1993)". There aren´t that many thrash metal elements, although "The Wake" is occasionally a pretty heavy release.

"The Wake" features a powerful, organic, and detailed sounding production, which suits the material on the 8 track, 55:57 minutes long album perfectly. It´s not an album which grapped me immediately and it took a few spins to sink in and for me to be able to tell the tracks apart, but given a few spins it´s a very rewarding release, featuring many details and intriguing musical ideas. I haven´t always been impressed with Voivod´s post-2000 output, but they managed a return to form with the release of "Target Earth (2013)" and with "The Wake" they prove that the high quality of the direct predecessor wasn´t a one-off. In fact I think "The Wake" may even be a step up in quality from the predecessor and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Report this review (#2271179)
Posted Saturday, October 19, 2019 | Review Permalink

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