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4 stars I don't really care for ratings, whether they be stars or numbers or whatever, and this album is why: 'War And Pain' is a masterpiece of dank, dirty, apocalyptic war/black/thrash metal. Should ever come to be, it would be a 5. In the realms of, which holds bands to an admittedly different standard, it is a high 3. Ultimately, it's one of many albums that defies the strict box-categorization of ratings. Numbers and ratings don't really mean anything here. I give it a 4, just to split the difference. But see my final paragraph, as this is not for everyone.

This was only the beginning for Voivod, and the fact that they cruised into cold, mechanical, technical, atmospheric progrock-meets-metal in 4 short years from 'War And Pain' is proof enough that Voivod are a modern day prog band. They broke boundaries and went where no metal band had gone before. Here, in the world of war and oppressive pain, things teeter between a Motorhead-ish sort of noise/sleaze rock ("Suck Your Bone", "Blower") and the post-armageddon hell of "Nuclear War" (the long epic of the album). Snake (vocals) is completely unhinged and unintelligible, aided by the roaring mess of Blacky's bass and Away's thunderous, cataclysmic pounding. Guitarist Piggy was the real innovator. He's the one responsible for the vast majority of Voivod's riffs and structures--it was already clear on this album that his style was unlike any other. It was fluid, yet untamed. It was dissonant, yet held up the melodic standard of the best traditional metal. And in the soundscape moments of songs like "Voivod" and "Nuclear War", it was clear he was only scratching the surface of his arsenal of unique effects.

Is this album True Prog? No way. Is it the beginning of a band who produced some of the greatest late '80s/early '90s prog? Hell yes. Caveat to progrock fans who don't like metal, but anyone else interested in this peculiar band's peculiar evolution, this is essential for the library and study of this ever-intriguing band.

Report this review (#33864)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars this was the first Voivod album i heard, i remember at the time i listened to Slayer a lot and i heard that record and thought it's even more brutal than Reign In Blood. i don't know it really was more but definitely was the same brutal and more rock and roll for sure. yes it's brutal rock and roll album. listen to Warriors Of Ice, Suck Your Bone, Iron Gand or Live For Violence. simple raw rock and roll album. of course it's something closer to Kill'em All than to Ace Of Spades but Motorhead was inspiration to guys. it's very good one.
Report this review (#33865)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
2 stars After several demos and a sampler contribution on Metal Massacre 5 ("Condemned To The Gallows") VOIVOD showed the wide audience the gruesome face of death on their 1984 debut album "War And Pain". This debut release is a little 'odd'! Actually, it's not that great, it sounds like a cheap, rip-off of Venom's "Welcome To Hell" album.

Attention everyone loving unpolished, third-rate speed metal. Be sure to love Voivod's “War and Pain” as well. Some of the reasons why 1984's “War and Pain” sounds strikingly similar to Metallica's “Kill 'Em All” on some parts is because both albums feature a pretty dry production, straight-ahead metal guitar riffs and sometimes sophomoric lyrical content, but while Voivod´s debut sounds horrendously punky and talentless, Metallica´s first album has a deeper guitar tone, better song structures and better musicianship.

Voivod latecomers should know that the group wasn't meant to be a speed metal or even an extreme band as they became an experimental/progressive metal band, as evidenced on the later albums “Nothingface” and “Angel Rat” and which was quite predictable when hearing those progressive rock passages on “Killing Technology”.

The group's first classic, the song "Voivod” is featured here, and is still played by the group in concert to this day (one of the few songs that contains some contrasting textures, even if it's just for about five seconds at the beginning). This tune is probably one of the best ones the band has ever done, with its super catchy roar along chorus and its nice riffwork. Other band’s classics are "Warriors of Ice," "Iron Gang," and the title track, which are all maniacal, fast-paced and about as subtle as being hit by a sledgehammer, but that doesn’t mean they were actually good; they were sloppy and plodding.

By listening to their debut, you can easy to see that the group built their later highly original sound on the foundations of heavy metal. “War and Pain” is by no means an embarrassing debut fro Voivod, it's just that when compared to other speed metal albums of the time, it simply don't delivers that good.

The band still was miles away from the progressive direction of later albums. Halfway accessible song structures with a big Punk portion a la Discharge with a certain tendency to chaos were leaving their mark on this album. Here the comparison with the chainsaw swinging maniacs that butcher everything that is not on the trees at the three count is true. “Nuclear War” with the extremely pressing hatework on the riffs and its rawness is a proof of that.

Conclusion: Ok, enough babbling, if you worship Venom’s “Welcome To Hell” as the best thing in the world and love Discharge and Cryptic Slaughter then will also love "War And Pain". Still, I’d recommend you not to buy this album unless you are a true fan from Voivod or a collector of rare and talentless speed metal albums. Prog-heads beware!

album rating: 5.5/10 points = 56 % on MPV scale = 2/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#76655)
Posted Saturday, April 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars The first Voivod album "War and Pain" isn't progressive at all. It's similar to thrash and avant metal bands like Slayer, Blind Illusion, Kreator and Celtic Frost. They do have a distinctive sound thanks to guitarist Denis D'Amour's inventive riffs (jazzoid metal). Just look at the titles of the songs, and you know you're in for an hour of thrashing madness (no "Close To The Edge" here, friends). I once read in Kerrrrang that Voivod was described as "alarm clock metal". Pretty accurate. The only indicator of anything remotely similar to the pioneering progressive path Voivod would eventually embark on...would be the final track "Nuclear War". It reminds me of the self-titled song "Black Sabbath" meets Red-era King Crimson. A lot of power chords with interesting time changes.
Report this review (#127114)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "War and Pain" is the debut full-length studio album by Canadian thrash/progressive metal act Voivod. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in August 1984. Voivod originally formed in 1981 as the trio of Denis "Piggy" D'Amour (guitars), Michel "Away" Langevin (drums), and Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault (bass), but as a consequence of lack of playing skills, they disbanded for a full year before reforming in late 1982. Lead vocalist Denis "Snake" Bélanger was added to the lineup in January 1983 and Voivod was born. The band released the "Anachronism" demo in 1983 (essentially a live recording of the band playing covers by artists like Motörhead, Judas Priest, and Venom mixed with a few original compositions) and the "To the Death!..." demo in 1984. All tracks on "War And Pain" appear in demo versions on "To the Death!... (1984)".

Stylistically the music on "War And Pain" is a raw and filthy, anarchistic type of heavy/speed metal featuring raw, shouting, and punked vocals in front. The sound production is noisy, messy, and organic. Sometimes sounding like it´s a lo-fi demo release, recorded live in the studio. The material on the 9 track, 42:42 minutes long album is rather one-dimensional but not without memorable hooks and loads of raw charm. Bélanger´s punky vocals are probably an aquired taste, but he arguably provides the music with something original. D'Amour´s guitar playing is also quite inventive for the time, and while he hasn´t yet fully developed his trademark dissonant guitar playing style, there are nods toward it here and there. Thériault´s highly distorted bass sound is also introduced here. The same with Langevin´s anarchistic organic drumming style.

So this is an album which wins as a result of it´s raw charm and great energetic performances rather than for it´s sophisticated and clever compositions. And that´s not to say the material aren´t intriguing in any way, the tracks are just generally pretty simple and a bit more variation between tracks could probably have made the overall listening experience a bit more interesting. As it is "War And Pain" is still a nice little filthy heavy/speed metal release, and Voivod was clearly on to something special already this early on in their career. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Report this review (#146703)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sometimes when you need a slap in the face you listen to Metallica's Kill'em All or Slayer's Show No Mercy, but when you need a strong kick in your ass you should listen to this one. It's no use to say how original band is Voivod but back in 1984 they didn't differ much from thrash pioneers of those times. With one exeption. They just played that kind of music very raw and wild. It's kind of hard core punk energy in that. At the time band was influenced mostly by Venom and Motorhead. You can hear it especially in crazy bluesy riffs (played 10 times faster than pioneers did) and wild yelling vocals. Angus Young once said that no music has such power as rock and roll and he knew what he was saying. Listen to Suck Your Bone and that solo. Motorhead? Sure why not. It's raw power everyone enjoys that and it's not lighter than Slayer's Black Magic in fact it's heavier. That bass part at the end of Warriors On Ice sounds like taken from Zepp's Dazed And Confused. It's neraly the same thing. The song itself is one of my favorite ass kickers ever. Lots of Black Sabbath sounds appear in the title song. There are couple of riffs that sound like taken from the first Sabbath album and the song entitled: Black Sabbath. Blower bass power ... yeah this is Motorhead-like song. Very fast and grinding. Live For Violence is one of my favorite on this release. It sound a bit like Exciter on Heavy Metal Maniac but of course more powerful. It's really hard to find weak point of this album. Although it's not my favorite Voivod release it still remains among my favorites maybe because it's the first Voivod album I've heard and maybe because it's the most powerful Voivod release with so much rock and roll (next album is probably even more aggressive but lack of rock and roll vibe). To sum it all. If you want kickass album in oldschool style pick this one. It's worth of listening and thrashing to that.
Report this review (#176600)
Posted Saturday, July 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars The melding of science fiction to black metal was never a good combination but Voi Vod went for it with no holds barred crunching guitars and caustic vocals. This one blew me out of my skin during the huge metal hiatus, the golden era when metal was king during the mid 80s. I had this on vinyl and used to thrash it in the 80s during the birth of the heavy metal revolution when the 80s Metal gods unleashed thier hordes. I grew out of this type of music indefinitely after the initial excitement of new metal kicked in and ultimately died. But I remeber how I listened to that slamming guitar riff of War and Pain so much I was virtually consumed by its power. That was then. Now, as a proghead I have different feelings toward this. It is pure noise but nothing else. The riffs are easy to play and over simplified, and the vocals are nauseating. The themes delve into purile post-apocalytica meets cyber-punk dystopia.

Check out those metalitia lyrics of War and Pain!

In the smoke of the combat, The bombs fall by your side, No gods give you the guts, You see the fire in the sky, Let me free, let me run, I put the powder in my gun, I. run, kill and fight, Armed with swords and hash, I remove the knife in your sore, I believe in the death's call, You die for fire, burns in flames, I live to kill, create war and pain, Our disaster is not complete today, We make no defense because You fall in fate, The war punishes, and the war resists, We're going to hell tonight,

Ok, if that's what floats your boat, be my guest - but this is really the type of dross that was churned out off the metal machine in the 80s and has no place now and feels very outdated and childish.

If you want great prog style Voi Vod you are better off to move to later entries such as 'Nothingface' or 'The Outer Limits'. The debut is not very prog and is really just a noise - It may plaster you to the wall, but then again so would a jackhammer. This album is only for collectors so tread carefully among the hallowed ruins of the 80s metallution, for among the greatness there was so much mediocrity.

Report this review (#216511)
Posted Monday, May 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first album of Voivod is surely one of the best debut albums that I know. Even though the sound and the song writing of the album are far away from being perfect, the band has already its own unique sound and sounds very energetic, straight, rough, heavy and hungry for more to come. The title of this album could not have been chosen better. They already offer some of their first unforgettable classics in here.

The title track and opener "Voivod" introduces us already in the world of Voivod. Strange sounds of rattling chains and a person who walks through the snow in slow motion open the song before a fast mixture of punk and thrash metal blows you away. Somehow influenced by different bands such as Slayer, Venom, Motörhead and local punk bands, Voivod already create their own style within this very first song. The chorus is simple but easy to remind of and sing along with and to this day, Voivod always play this song live and after more than twenty five years, this little masterpiece has not lost its energy and aggression and works perfectly.

You get drowned in an atmosphere of a strange and devastated future world, heavily influenced by the cold and frostbitten winters in Quebec and the political frost of the cold war during the early eighties. "Warriors Of Ice" is an allusion to this and a very personal band hymn. The song starts with a tight drumming before riffs are shredding in a heavy but still melodic way. Snake didn't really know how to sing and express his emotions and did a lot of his work by his straight intuition as he tells on the special edition of the album. By listening to his feelings, he did a very authentic and emotional job and is as important to the early sound of Voivod as the galloping bumblebee bass guitar, the tight and precise drumming and the melodic riff shredding guitar.

Another of my favourite songs of the album is the bonus track "Condemned To The Gallows" which appeared on the 20th anniversary box set and originally on the "Metal Massacre 5" compilation. It has a very slow and still heavy intro which you haven't heard a lot of times at that time and in that genre, before a very dark chant comes in and leads us not only into the world of thrash but also death and American power metal which shows already the diversity and talent of the band to change its style by staying unique and honouring its roots and idols. The guitar solo is one of the best ones on the whole album and on the mentioned compilation and shows us already the extraordinary talent of guitar player Piggy.

Every song on this album contributes to a unique and very interesting sound and a very dark and desperate atmosphere. The band already shows his huge talent on this first album. From the short and intense "Blower" to the more developed, epic and very atmospheric band hit "Nuclear War", this band offers a lot of diversity without losing its straightness. Sure, there are a few little fillers towards the end of the album and the musicians are not yet that diversified and open-minded as they were on the future records, but this debut album already announced what the band was able to achieve later on. And though the style of this album is very straight and there are not as many things to discover as on the future albums of the band, this one really grows more and more on you.

Seriously, this is one of the best debut albums in metal history and in the same time the birth of a unique band in regard to which we haven't seen anything comparable in 40 years of metal history.

Originally published on on October 6th of the year 2010.

Report this review (#383272)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Prog Metal Team
3 stars This album is as progressive as eating a fresh hot bowl of spaghetti using only your bare hands, and it's just about as fun too. After a quick spooky intro, the album surges forth from raw punkish thrash anthem to raw punkish thrash anthem with a willful and reckless abandon. There's a lot of "D beat" tempos and hoarse croaking vocals by the lead vocalist, as well as some surprising creativity in the guitar playing department. The lyrics deserve a mention as well, being some of the stupidest and unintentionally hilarious in the history or rock & roll...although in the end it was most likely a wise choice not to write prose for their music in their native language (French of the Canadian kind).

I'll bring up the good stuff right away. Denis was already on his way to being an unheralded guitar hero at this point. Yes, the music here is straightforward, but you can sense the space rock appreciation hidden inside Denis (aka 'Piggy' at this point of time'as dark and threatening a one word moniker as I've ever heard) yearning to burst forth in all its non- thrashy glory, particularly in the guitar solos, which range from bluesy to psychedelic' especially considering his generous use of the digital delay pedal. I've heard complaints that the recording would have been considerably improved by having a rhythm and separate lead guitar tracks to give the album a fuller sound, but personally I enjoy listening to Piggy sweat it out by having to bust out some quick solos while filling out the rhythm section along with the bass player. The album sounds rawer and somewhat more bare- bones than a number of the emerging big names in the developing thrash scene, but its frantic approach and stronger influences derived from punk and a bit of acid rock gave the album a unique sound for its time. Granted, singer 'Snake' utilizes a vocal approach that conjures an impression that he's attempting to squeeze out a spherical poop the size of a cantaloupe from betwixt his buttocks cheeks, and I'm thinking the band probably blushes a bit concerning their lyrics back in the day, considering two of the songs are entitled 'Suck Your Bone' and 'Blower' respectively, but it's the energy that matters here. As for prog'you won't find much, although there are traces to be found here and there, particularly within the last two tracks. The playing is generally sloppy, but the youthful enthusiasm sort of makes up for it in this case'not so on their next album, which was a regression of sorts into a more primitive sound, if you can imagine that after hearing this album.

Finally, 'Iron Gang' is a scorcher. Fast as hell, hilarious singing and lyrics and a busy rhythm section with Piggy punctuating riff changes with quick bluesy licks, I consider this, as well as much of the rest of this debut, to be a noisy but reasonably decent adventure away from the more classically inclined musical avenues.

Report this review (#488315)
Posted Friday, July 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'War And Pain' - Voivod (6/10)

As so many other great bands do, Voivod developed their sound a lot as they matured. The end of the 80's would see this Quebecois act do some incredible things and virtually reinvent the genre of thrash metal. Early on though, these experimentations were much less pronounced. 'War And Pain' shows Voivod playing straightforward thrash metal, with a slightly forward- thinking, sci-fi twist. While lacking the innovation that made their later work so great, Voivod's debut is still a classic for its style, and a very fun listen at that.

Although this is Voivod at a much more primitive level, the band's trademarks are still here to some extent. Most notable is Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour's distinctive guitar work. Especially on the album's last track 'Nuclear War', Piggy wails away with the guitar, creating psychedelic soundscapes with feedback. The chords and riffs are also slightly more dissonant than the genre is used to, especially given the fairly early context this album has within thrash. Suffice to say, Piggy's performance here is the highlight, above and beyond. The rest of the band performs admirably, getting some good force through despite the grimy production. While 'Snake' Belanger's vocal performance here is fairly generic, the lyrical themes are sufficiently advanced beyond what a typical thrash band might sing about. Here, Voivod takes themes of nuclear holocaust and war, and filters them through a futuristic setting. Although the music is straightforward, the lyrics help create imagery of this band playing in the middle of a bombed out city.

The songwriting here has a few gems, but in general, the songwriting sacrifices depth for speed. Its certainly fun, but upon subsequent listens, I found the music losing its initial shock. Voivod are one of my favourite bands, but as my personal tastes stand, 'War And Pain' is the sort of album I will only be able to put on once in a while. There is plenty of energy and vitality to this band's performance, but musically speaking, the waters are a bit shallow, and the more familiar I get with the music, the less I find myself moved by the primitive approach they were going for at this point in their career.

Report this review (#554334)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm feeling bad giving 3/5 to Voivod's debut since I prefer listening this one than Wish You Were Here (My rate for it is 4/5). The fact is that War and Pain is obviously not the reason to Voivod being here. And their first two albums are the less relevant albums in every way into their discography. But this debut is the hardest. Hard listening, really. Harder than the bizarre and chaotic Voivod presented between Killing Technology and Nothingface. That's because of the poor thrashy sounding. Sounds a monotonous hardcore/thrash metal album at first, but after all these Voivod years I'm saying this one pretty kick asses, and the happiness to find a fine album into something previously boring is better than a masterpiece at first listen.

This is much more than a simple repetitive thrash metal. Piggy dissonant guitar riffs, the Voivod's soul, is already there. The main Voivod's plot is SCI-FI, and the album concepts by Away are awesome. The early sound of Voivod has the futuristic setting, but not in a space opera way, full of dimensional travels, technologies and space pirates. This one is the beggining of the Voivod saga, right on Earth, and the album theme is around nuclear devastation. The raw rotten rock of War and Pain fits perfect with the album concept. The poor quality of this death/thrash record brings the catastrophe to the air, and listening to this album I breathe the polluted and dirty smoke from a post-apocalyptical city ruled by an evil cyberpunk bikers gang, wearing red mohawks, gay leather outfits, big ass boots and monochles, trapping innocent hostages and torturing them til death with chains, and laughing at the misery and scarcity. I can clearly watch Piggy in the middle of the ruined old buildings playing Suck Your Bone, while the angry Snake sings barely biting the mic. Piggy's guitar is too damn dissonant as ever, and you will find some kind of strange psychedelic riffs, full of effects and feedback on the last track. Oh hell, you will find the angriest Snake ever listening to this album, his voice is unique. Take a look at Blacky and you will see, his appearence and attitude playing the bass is so violent! The cover art it's a fine way to describe what I heard from Voivod's debut. The band was very influenced by the 70's progressive scene and crust hardcore. Here's the answer if you are asking yourself what the kind of hell these guys were trying to do with their first underrated album. This is the extreme, heavy heavy side of Voivod. I needed guts to start enjoying War and Pain. But it worth a lot.

Report this review (#1024811)
Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Review Permalink

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