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1 stars After hearing good things about VOIVOD, and this album in particular, when I happened to locate this album in the "used" bin, I jumped on it immediately. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a complete and total disaster.

I have to be frank--I can barely understand what the attraction to this album is unless it's an attraction to absolute, dissonant noise. It's not that I have some aversion to fact, I've come to like many metal bands recently (including OPETH, SYMPHONY X, DREAM THEATER, AYREON, Killswitch Engage, QUEENSRYCHE, even a bit of Metallica), and it's not that I can't tolerate dissonance at all, but a number of factors all combine to make this album grating at the very best, and utterly impossible to listen to all the way through. In other places I review, most of the people who have reviewed this album or given a rating for it have been extremely impressed; therefore I feel it an obligation to both deliver my negative viewpoint and justify why I feel this way.

It's not for lack of least, as far as the instrument-playing goes; in fact, it's immediately obvious how skilled the musicians are, and that's why my initial impression as I started to listen to the first track, "The Unknown Knows", was actually quite favorable. The title track seemed rather unattractive, given that the singer seems almost totally unable to sing anything resembling a melody, and in my opinion he might have done better to just scream or growl (I don't mean that in a sarcastic way--I do like some bands that do that, and I actually think it would've served this music better). The cover of PINK FLOYD's "Astronomy Domine" was actually quite good, and although I think it was lacking in the improvisation department, this is what saves Nothingface from a zero-merit rating (the other factor is the obvious precision with which the musicians play...the only other real thing they've got going for them). "Missing Sequences" was also tolerable...but after that I completely lost my patience.

For one thing, there's the problem I've already cited with the vocalist. It's all right to sing with an abrasive tone from time to time--DREAM THEATER's JAMES LaBRIE can get away with this incredibly nasal shrieking from time to time, but the difference is that LaBRIE understands how to turn it on and off to keep it interesting, even in the middle of some of that band's hardest songs. But most of the time, not only does VOIVOD's vocalist barely alter the tone of his voice, he barely sings anything resembling a melody, giving the Talking Heads' David Byrne a run for his money in terms of toneless vocals. This actually starts to resemble Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire", a rather disastrous classical atonal piece (guaranteed to make your ears bleed within ten seconds) more than anything.

And then there are the chord sequences, if there are in fact such a thing on this album. The trouble with the chords is, it seems like they just decided to have, in every single chord, two notes that clash horribly with each other, and in no way does one chord lead to the next. This is fine to use sometimes, but I think this really is overkill. Combined with the nearly atonal, dissonant melodies, this makes it nearly impossible for me to distinguish one song from another with the exception of "Astronomy Domine", which stands out dramatically from all of them. Is it any coincidence that the one track that's actually identifiable from the others was written by someone else?

Normally I try to give every album three opportunities to redeem itself before I return it to the store...but I know I simply could not endure even a second listen in this case. There's no two ways around it--I absolutely cannot sit through this entire album, and I can barely even make it through two songs in a row (maybe three if the middle one is "Astronomy Domine"). While there was talent evident, I simply cannot give much credit for that if I can't listen to their output. On the basis of Nothingface, VOIVOD is clearly not a band I will be willing to venture into again without extensive sampling prior to purchase...even out of the "used" bin!

Report this review (#33878)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars it's very hard to find better guitar album than this one, maybe on Grace Under Pressure is better guitar work but here we have also such great complex chords i have chills up and down my spine. this album is closer to classic prog metal than to techno thrash. Astronomy Domine is better than in original verion, it sounds very hypnotic. it's hard to pick up the best song, i can truly say it's one of the best albums of 80s... ok my favorite is Missing Sequences... btw here's no song over 6 minutes but it seems like all the songs are rather long it's probably beacuse it's so much in each song, the tension the structure. it's a masterpiece.
Report this review (#33879)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Since it's inception, this record proved the world the technical capabillities and the out-of- this-world essence, sadly as many bands in the late 80's, the record faded away very fast, however, the quality and tightness of the music made it survive and beacme a trademark in sound and music, yes, some may laugh about it, but this record set the path for so many bands, even DREAM THEATER into the 90's. First, the record got attention beacuse of the marvellous cover of ASTRONOMY DOMINE, and got a fair MTV airplay, enough to make the curious buy the record (me i have to accept). Anyway, the record is a sci-fi intervention, a musical statement that starts with the "unknown knows", a semi-cyberpunk aproach mixed with floyd's elements, and to be honest, the whole record shows a similar pressence, with the excpetion of "pre-ignition", an obscure song, with so many good elemnts to list here, perhaps, the most "deep" song is the last one, sub-effect, a glory song for the sci-fi. Now, if you add the great "avant-garde" art of the record, you have one of the most perfect and naive records from a forgotten era. a must buy, and not only for the "metal-head", this is true prog on LSD. enjoy
Report this review (#33880)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars

I got this album back then in 1989. Before this one I already have "Killing Technology" and "Rrroarrr". I thought VOIVOD were doing thrash metal at best like thos albums, but I was totally wrong. "Nothingface" is nothing but AMAZING metal at its best! I dig quite a number of technical metal albums already (back then it's so called techno-thrash, stuff like WATCHTOWER or DEATHROW, to mention a few), and twisted riffs and odd-time signatures are used so often there. But not until I found "Nothingface" cassette and played it! This album should be cited among of the most important Progressive Metal albums ever! I was totally surprised by the excellent (if not perfect) songwriting. Songwriting is beyond normal for a metal (even within the progressive-metal) subgenre. Piggy's guitar playing and its sound/tone is the key signature to all VOIVOD music, and they are get strengthened in this album (thanks to producer Glen Robinson). Every riff is a jewel to my ear (because of its strange chords that are uncommon for the use in metal), and his strong blues and jazz influences are solid bonus. The other VOIVOD's key signature is, of course, Snake's unmistakably unique nasal tone of vocals. His voice is so unique that I don't think there is other singer in this world that normally has the similar tone with him. But that does not stop with the tone, his vocal melody is also unique and sometimes weird, but it can interact very well with the weirdness of Piggy's chords. Hey, not to mention his untrendy sci-fi lyrics! Songs like "Unknown Knows", "Into My Hypercube", "Sub-Effect" and PINK FLOYD's cover "Astronomy Domine" are very catchy, but yet very complex at the same time. Welcome to the wall of weird sounds! This is a must BUY album, not only for avantgarde/progressive metal freaks but also for fans of bands like THINKING PLAGUE, or maybe even KING CRIMSON! But I heard the album is out-of-print. Well......

Report this review (#33881)
Posted Friday, January 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars An absolutely perfect 5-star album, 'Nothingface' is the apex of Voivod's cosmic adventures in odd time signatures and bizarre rhythms. While they would go on to record very good albums, and one particularly great one ('Angel Rat'), 'Nothingface' remains the quintessential Voivod album. You don't have to look any further than opener "The Unknown Knows" to uncover the band's rare chemistry at this point (1989). A variety of tones and textures are spit out from Piggy's guitar, while the syncopation between bassist Blacky and drummer Away sets the foundation for some of the band's most challenging ideas. The tone of the bass is incredible, taking the fuzzy and distorted "blower" sound of their early work and compressing it into a steely bright sharpness. Away's drum work can never be given enough credit. His nimble rhythmic finesse makes the most of Glen Robinson's crystal-clear recording job. He's a pleasure to listen to, and this album stands as his finest performance, handling every tricky arrangement curveball with ease. It can't be easy to make this angular music flow, but he manages to link every part seamlessly thanks to his intelligent fills and quick thinking. Snake's voice is produced perfectly, distant and robotic but somehow empathetic and human at the same time. His punk influences are long-gone for this voyage, replaced by an approach that is well-considered, subtle, perfect for the material, and all his own.

It's almost futile to pinpoint every high mark on this album. A track-by-track synopsis is unnecessary. Every song carries its own identity, but this album is always, ALWAYS best listened to in one undistracted sitting. However, I have to point out the sublime "Missing Sequences", which still remains for me one of the finest examples of this band at its best. And amidst the dizzying second side, which always struck me as more complex and more challenging than the first half, lies the gorgeous "Into My Hybercube", which offers a few moments of linear calm within the twisting controlled- chaos all around it. And 'Nothingface' also sports one of few examples of a cover song done right. Their take on Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine" not only fits perfectly into the vibe of this album, but they quite literally have made the song their own. It doesn't spike out of the running sequence like a sore thumb (as many other covers do), and it even figures into their live set to this day.

'Nothingface''s incredible performances and songwriting are wrapped in a recording job that I've always considered masterful. The band and producer Glen Robinson manage to take this cold and clinical metal and give it a kind of earthiness, an interesting paradox which manages to give this fascinating album even more intrigue.

Report this review (#33883)
Posted Friday, February 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars NothingProg

Metal has come a long way from Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and VoiVod have come a long way in terms of time, and produced this album after 5 years of consistently producing metal that has been pushing the boundaries of what constitutes metal - but really what this album boils down to is a metal album that is radically different to other metal albums of the time - not fully-fledged prog rock.

It's a very daring album, in that VoiVod are extremely ambitious in terms of style integration, and really pull out the stops to find different sounds - including a very interesting cover of "Astronomy Domine", but only manage to pull themselves into the outer reaches of what I consider to be "technical metal".

Despite the inventive approach to rhythm and timbre, this album does not really stray away from the very basics of metal - find a riff you like, repeat it, add another riff (and in the case of technical metal, pile on more and more riffs and go off at tangents) within a standard rock framework.

What VoiVod do not do on Nothingface is grow the music, which is one of the foundations of prog rock, and why this album does not tickle my prog sensors. The cover of "Astronomy Domine" is a prime example - Pink Floyd grew this track organically, but VoiVoid dot as many i's as they can, and cross most of the t's in order to come up with a metallized replica - although some important details are missing, such as the "woo-oo-oo-oo"s and the improvised feel. This cover really summarizes VoiVod's approach on this album - a willingness to go out and push boundaries, but a lack of "rock'n'roll" to give them the freedom of expression they are obviously looking for.

This album therefore lacks the spontaneity of prog, hence I would not recommend it to anyone growing their prog rock collection - although it is an interesting album to purchase if you're curious about prog metal, as it does cover many bases, and it's easy to see why the metal community would see it as progressive, so if prog metal is your "thing", this is well worth investigating.

The textures are not the sterile "bling" that modern production creates out of more recent "prog metal" offerings, and VoiVod have practically turned their backs on their thrash metal roots in this opus, so it is a "safe" album for anyone horrified by death metal growls, giddying, blurry whirlpools of snarling polyrhythmic riffola and double bass drum Uzi attacks.

The main downside for me is Belanger's flat vocal delivery, almost devoid of melody, tonal quality or feel for musical drama.

The main upside is that this is a very inventive collection of riffs, albeit with a tendency for tangents rather than development, which makes for very intriguing aural wallpaper that occasionally beckons and tempts, but never fully engrosses.

Report this review (#40676)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think that NothingFace is Voivod's best overall album.The only word that come to my head when someone talk about this album is:AMAZING.All songs are quite good.NothingFace contain Pink Floyd's cover ''Astronomy Donime'' which IMO Voivod's version is better than the original version because of the energy that the band give to the song.

Snake's lyrics are pretty good,Piggy's guitar lines & Away's drums are excellent.But IMO,Blacky is the star of NothingFace,pretty melodic and quite amazing.My favorite songs are:The Unknow Knows and Pre-Ingnition.I'ts a masterpiece...I think that anybody who likes Progressive and Metal music must have this album in their collection!

Report this review (#42534)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've never considered myself a big "prog" fan really. I grew up on thrash/speed metal and punk back in the 80s and one of those bands was Voivod. I was on the Voivod bandwagon from the time I heard 'Forgotten in Space' on the 'Killing Tecnology' LP. I was not yet a huge fan, but I loved Voivod because there was something just completely different about them from their peers like Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth. There was something under the surface that was brewing with them that made them very different. Then came the 'Dimension Hatross' album and it was clear that Voivod was distancing themselves from the 'thrash' crowd. At first DH seemed a little to odd for my teenage years who wanted nothing more than raging slabs of lightning fast metal. But that album grew and grew and grew on me until Voivod was one of my favorite bands.

Then comes 'Nothingface.' Voivod was clearly no longer a thrash band now. Sure they were still pretty fast, but their sound on this album is very textured and clean. Snake is obviously not a classically trained vocalist, but his delivery is perfect in the context of the futuristic imagery in the music. Piggy's unbelievable guitar style is so clean which alows the textures and odd chords to really ring out. One thing that was always unique to Voivod also was the fact that Piggy as the only guitarist, rarely dubbed in rhythm guitar parts during solos which allowed the rhythm section of Blacky and Away to really shine. On past albums like 'Killing Technology,' the music can become a bit mushy when all musicians are wailing away. But on this album every part is clear and virtually equal in the mix. Blacky's bass and Away's drums nail down the odd rhythms while Piggy's dissonant textured guitar meanders and wanders along beautifully (did I just use that adjective for a metal album?). Quite frankly, what makes this album metal is the rhythm section, lead sols, and subject matter. But Piggy's guitar style could have easily turned up on a Miles Davis album and would not have been out of place. He rarely plays power chords and really sounds like he's caressing his guitar instead of pounding it so that the dissonant chords ring and chime rather than crunch. It's not at all typical metal guitar.

This album IS a masterpiece. I remember the day I bought this on cassette when I was a junior in high school. I played it until it was completely worn out. Voivod's transformation was so drastic and eye opening. I remember going to see them in concert in support of 'Nothingface' with a bunch of other long forgotten speed metal bands and when Voivod came on stage the testosteron slam pit frenzied crowd had no idea what to do with this sound Voivod produced. It was thinkin' fellers' thrash. I find it admirable that Voivod was willing to move forward to pursue a more creative style even though they shed a lot of their older fans.

I can't end this review without mentioning that Piggy will be sorely missed. He passed away in August of 2005 from colon cancer. He was a true guitar genius and I'm sad knowing there'll never be another Voivod album with Piggy's amazing guitar work. In fact, I'd be surprised if the band continues on without him. He was a true original. RIP Denis D'Amour (Piggy).

Report this review (#51278)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars In the era of hair-rock-hit-glue-assembly fabrik (thanks, Poison & co), this is "the" LP of 1989. While Metallica tried (and mainly succeeded) to produce "... And Justice For All" but that was it, and Celtic Frost's Into the Pandemonium - althoug the most influential LP of 90's - almost vanished due their personal issues, VoiVod seems to find the succesful combination between MTV airplay (really amazing how MTV even aired so much Astronomy Domine :) ) and 1967 LP-era.

While the younger fans (anyway, I was 18 in 1989 myself, but perhaps 1989 in Romania was something else...) were possibly stunned by the passage from Ravenous Medicine to Pink Floyd covers and architectonic sound that characterizes the 89-94 VoiVod era, the Quebec guys managed to produce what is, without any doubt, a masterpiece.

Not very influential to other bands, perhaps - as neither Pink Floyd were at their time - but rather being a culmination of progressive rock of 1990. There are no singalongs here, no proto-thrash rage, but rather a perfect mix between the technical virtuosity (in completion of music, not for the sake of demonstration), evolution of band members as both musicians and universe creators, deeply troubled inner selves but all with a serenity specific to a mature group.

As a band, this is the VoiVod finest hour, but the musical peak was still to come on latter Angel Rat and The Outer Limits. This is a thing to listen, and listen again - it only gets better with age.

Report this review (#56248)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars To me, a masterpiece is something that has to be either, very technical, unusual, unexpected, inspired, totally creative, efficient and sophisticated, combine with a great concept and emotions.. Voivod has all that, especially in the nothing face album. Dissonance, ultra offbeat, dark and sci-fi drama of voivod. Listening to this album could need many times before grasping thye whole picture of it, even loving it needs curiosity and open mind. It is very unusual post-industrial concept, and everything in the album artworks, sound and lyrics made it a very complex piece of ultramodern art. LOng life to voivod and RIP to a genius on his own, the guitar man , Denis "Piggy" D'amour .
Report this review (#60591)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A groundbreaking, genre defining masterpiece. I would describe the sound as cybernetic prog metal with a bit of a punk attitude. Guitarist Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour (R.I.P.) is in the same field as guitarists such as Robert Fripp and Alex Lifeson, having a style all his own, where originality AND technicality are combined. He often uses jazz chords in this sci-fi context and it makes for a very eerie effect. His songwriting is even better than his playing, sounding like nobody else before or after this album. Bassist Jean-Yves 'Blacky' Thériault was his perfect low pitch counterpart with intricate bass lines and a slightly distorted sound, building the ideal bridge between Piggy and drummer Michel 'Away' Langevin, who is primarily a good, tight metal drummer with enough creativity to be interesting (also note that Langevin is responsible for all of the band's artwork ever since their first album). Singer Denis 'Snake' Bélanger is an acquired taste, and I find he is the ONLY suitable voice for Voivod, with his quirky melodies and his trademark sneering. Every song is excellent, there are no weak points on this album, and credit must be given to the band for an excellent rendition of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Dominé", which is probably better than the original. They made that song their own.

Warning : this album is definitely not for the fainthearted. The amount of dissonant and strange chords along with out-there vocal melodies will not please every one, even less so on the first few spins. Digest slowly. But, in the end you will find much in this album to feel rewarded especially the originality of it. I know I have. Even today (and undoubtedly in many years to come) this album is pertinent and will probably never age, having a style that some have tried to emulate but to no avail. Voivod are alone at what they do, and this album is the perfect example.

A masterpiece in my humble opinion.

Report this review (#84193)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After expanding their musical horizons with Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross, Voivod delivers the coup de grace with Nothingface. This album is a prog metal staple that is all too often ignored. Blacky and Away are the tightest they'll ever be here, weighing down the music with odd rhythms. Snake's singing has fully evolved from primal screaming to clean vocals. Then, there's Piggy. Piggy already set himself apart from the rest of the thrash guitarists by attempting to play frets other than the very lowest and very highest. On this album, he all but completely abandons power chords, a sure sign that Voivod isn't the run-of-the-mill thrash band it started out as. His incorporation of jazz to the thrash mold results in a distinctive and fiery playing style.

The songs all contain strong (albeit bizarre) songwriting, and the music seems to be tailor made not to fit any preconceived notion of what a song should sound like. "The Unknow Knows," the sublime "Into the Hypercube," the even better "Missing Sequences," and "Sub- Effect" make up a good portion Voivod's best tunes. The cover of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Dominé" is, incredibly, more bizarre than the original.

This album would influence very little musicians, but for the precious few that are lucky enough to stumble onto this band, Nothingface remains a pinnacle of experimental metal and a landmark in prog metal. Snake's vocals are the only fly in the ointment, but as with so many lesser vocalists, he's perfect for the band. Hard copies of the album are hard to come by, but the band was recently added on iTunes and this album is reason enough to stop what you're doing, make an account if you have to, and purchase this vital slab of early progressive metal.

Grade: A

Report this review (#112931)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Nothingface is a great album which sees VOIVOD's signature sound tightened and refined with outstanding results as their progression from thrash to technologically influenced progressive metal complete. I actually came upon this album because I had been told they are a good thrash band so I was quite suprised to find this totally unexpected yet welcome piece of music.

The musicianship on this album is great, the musicians all interlock brilliantly, the drums are interesting and reasonably technical in parts, Denis 'piggy' D'Amour is the crown jewel of the band producing some amazingly original and interesting riffs. Given there is only one guitar the bass does a fantastic job of cementing things together and holding the fort while piggy is off on a solo. I think the only let down with regards to the musicians are the vocals, they are rather lacklustre and toneless although it doesn't bother me a great deal now that I'm used to it.

The album starts off strongly after a brief introduction with one of the best songs on the album 'the unknown knows' and we get our first taste of the angular, paranoid and most suprisingly emotionally evocative music on nothingface. There are some really great bits in this song, I espeically like the part when it gets quite fast after the solo.

Nothingface continues on strongly with what else but the title track - Nothingface, the music is once again very abrupt and jagged and the song has a great chorus (though the technological lyrics are fairly cheesy which is something that carries on through the whole album love them or hate them).

Probably my favourite song on the album is the pink floyd cover astronomy domine, VOIVOD have really done a fantastic job in capturing the spaciness this song demands although in a different way to the original but it is an altogether fantastic cover of a classic song by a classic band - a formidable feat to accomplish.

The album then tapers off a bit in my opinion and whilst the remaining songs aren't by any means bad in fact they are all pretty good but just not as good as the first few songs on the album.

All in all a great album from VOIVOD and a pivotal point in their career and the progression of their sound, I'd say this album is worth about 4.5 stars but I'm going to round it down to 4 due to some of the issues I mentioned before such as the vocals, the cheesy lyrics and the album tapering off towards the end.

Report this review (#119973)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Nothingface" is the fifth full-length studio album by Canadian progressive metal act Voivod. The album was released through Mechanic/MCA Records in October 1989 (released through Noise Records in Europe). It´s the successor to "Dimension Hatröss" from June 1988. "Nothingface" is Voivod´s most commercially successful release and the promotional video which was shot for the cover of "Astronomy Domine" by Pink Floyd was aired on MTV´s Headbangers Ball and helped strengthen Voivod´s reputation and profile on the scene. It´s not like Voivod sold millions of albums and commercially successful should in this case be understood in the right context. But considering the type of music they play on "Nothingface", any kind of commercial success is a major achievement.

Stylistically the material on "Nothingface" is a strange, sci-fi themed, and darkly psychedelic tinged type of progressive metal, featuring odd abrupt rhythm work/time-signature changes, and dissonant riffs. Lead vocalist Denis Bélanger "Snake" sings more melodic on "Nothingface" than he has done on any of the previous releases, but his melody lines and the rhythm of this delivery are often weird and not particularly catchy. He sounds a lot like a punk singer who went through the wrong rehearsal room door but decided to stay and play with the technical metal/progressive metal band who happened to be playing there. So in many ways "Nothingface" is a fragmented and odd release, but that´s exactly why it´s so brilliant...´s so unusual, creative, and unique that there really isn´t anything like it out there. Never before...and never since. Coming from the technical thrash metal/progressive metal of "Dimension Hatröss" the change of musical direction must have confused many of the band´s thrash metal fans, who were probably already a bit tired of the experimental songwriting on "Dimension Hatröss". "Nothingface" takes that approach and runs with it. Most thrash metal oriented riffs are gone from the music, and instead the use of twisted, dissonant, and unconventional riffs have increased. There´s also an almost uplifting funky groove to some tracks, which is something new too. Despite being a bit more melodic inclined release, "Nothingface" is by no means an easily accessible listen. It´s an aquired taste too and I´m sure that most people are left a bit baffled after their first listen. People´s reactions to listening to "Nothingface" can most likely be put in two catagories...those who found it an odd, inpenetrable, and uninviting listen and those who found it weird but were left with an urge to give it more spins because they heard something intriguing they felt was worth exploring more.

"Nothingface" features a powerful, organic, and detailed sound production which perfectly suits the material. The bass is quite prominent in the soundscape and provides the right amount of heaviness to the music, when the guitar often wanders off in more high end riff or lead part territories. The drums feature a powerful organic tone, and the vocals are placed just right in the mix.

Upon conclusion it´s almost impossible to describe what "Nothingface" sounds like on paper in a way that leaves the reader wiser or more informed after reading the review. It´s one of those releases which you have to give a listen yourself to be able to judge and evaluate. But to my ears (so here´s a pretty subjective opinion) "Nothingface" is the true definition of an artist being progressive. Voivod created something which didn´t exist before (not even in their own previous work) and they progressed a whole music genre in the process. So even if you aren´t able to appreciate the music and aren´t able to enjoy listening to it, there should still be points for creativity and uniqueness. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives).

Report this review (#146858)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A few hours ago I listened after a good many years to DIMENSION HATRÖSS again and was rather diasappointed. Now I have done the same with NOTHINGFACE - and man, they blew me away! The first side (of my vinyl version) is comparatively mellow (by Voivod standards) with a good sense for melody and rhythm. The superb cover version of Astronomy Domine fits perfectly as if it were self-penned. On the second side Voivod get more extreme but all ideas work well (and this was not so with HATRÖSS). This record is a perfect example for extreme prog metal with some softer tinges. Side One makes it rather easy to get into the music - and then prepare yourself for Side Two! The only critical point I have to make is that the album ends all of a sudden because the last song doesn't have the feel of a Last Song. So its like waking from an exciting but pleasant dream - 5 stars.
Report this review (#162331)
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I like to play guitar. I can say I'm guitar oriented guy and I always pay precise attention to what guitarists play on albums. Denis D'amour was (RIP) one of the most original guitarists on this planet. This album is Voivod's technical peak. But not only that was very important. This time production of Voivod album is better than ever before. The sound is clear and you can easily hear every fantastic tune played by Denis. The Unknown Knows hits you with its avant-grade metal riffs and your world changes within seconds. Everything is upside down and I can't really describe the feeling I have when I listen to this album. Title song is a bit more experimental than first track but still very good and riffs seem to hang in the balance. Denis used very tiny strings saying he wanted to leave whole bass space to bass guitar. A lot of his parts he plays on strings 1-3 so the effect is amazing. He cracks good solos as well and perfect example is Missing Sequences which is incredible piece of true progressive metal music. X-Ray Mirror is one of the most complex pieces in the set but to be honest they are all pretty complex. But X-Ray Mirror has that riff that seems to bring you nowhere when in fact it's still in kind of consequent structure. Inner Combustion is the shortest track on this release and that territory was explored more on the next album Angel Rat. You don't expect surprises but Denis amazes you once more in Pre-Ignition. I guess he had to listen a lot to Van Der Graaf Generator albums. The invasion of strong avant-grade sounds hits your ears. I can't describe it so you have to hear it. For the first time I thought it's kind of cacophony but later I realised he cared for every note in this part. Pure genius. Into My Hypercube is more relaxing song but of course don't expect pop metal or something like that. It's still Voivod just in Pink Floyd veil. And if we talk about Pink Floyd the most famous tune of this album was of course cover of Astronomy Domine. It's not much different from original version just the sound is better which is obvious cos Voivod recorded this album in late 80's. And Denis was right saying he still plays the same kind of music no matter if it's ripping thrash of War and Pain or this progressive metal of Nothingface. It's something between blues and jazz. Just the form differs cos here parts are more complex. Sub-Effect as for the finish. Excellent piece of music. Like the whole album. But not only Denis D'amour deserves applause. Whole band plays great and Denis Belanger exposes softer side of his voice what fits perfect here. To me Nothingface is the best guitar oriented album ever. And I'm not talking about solos. Every good guitarist can play solo. Construction of those chords is excellent. Pure genius as I said. True masterpiece and one of the best albums of all times. 6 stars.
Report this review (#212394)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nothingface is one of the prime examples of how Tech/Extreme Prog metal stretches its legs more often than many may think. The principal idea of this album is the unique sound and timbres you find. Although some may call it a metal album, the instruments can hardly be called heavy and there isn't much in the way of distortion, including the vocals. Some say it is thrash metal, and it bears plenty resemblance to the rest of the genre, though it really isn't thrash metal. Basically its blend of thrash metal, punk ideas, and spacey atmospheres bring together one of the most progressive sounding albums one will ever hear. This is why it is such revered, because it brings such great new overall sounds to the table.

In Nothingface, Voivod uses lots of strange riffs at a quick tempo, along with quick drums that are either straightforward with straight 'punk' beats or lots of double bass, or creating quirky rhythms in strange time signatures to compliment the other instruments' playing. This is the primary sound of the record, though it should be noted that the guitars have a rather unique tone, and when they combine with they're offbeat type riffs and chords, they create an unusual atmosphere. Denis Belanger sings and shouts above these chords in an almost froggy tone, complementing the rest of the music perfectly.

There are plenty of positives to the album to consider. There are pieces of the album, while not being incredibly technical, dabble in strange time signatures, giving the already unusual sound to a new level. Songs that do this well include "Missing Sequences" and "Inner Combustion", the former also having a killer guitar solo. Also there's the excellent cover of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine", while not copying the original completely, compromises little of the original and fits it into Voivod's sound quite nicely so that it really doesn't stick out of the rest of the album. Also, one of the best tracks is "Into My Hypercube", which contains tons of ideas, and in 5 minutes and 5 seconds explores the song better than most albums explore themselves.

The only downside of the album is the simpler side of the songwriting. The album does rely on riffs quite heavily, and they are repeated quite more than many would like. Also, the songs often tend to follow the standard songwriting structure that many regular rock songs utilize, with the exception of "Into My Hypercube" and "Astronomy Domine". However, these are only minor hindrances to an excellent album.

Therefore, almost any fan of prog should enjoy Nothingface. Although it is considered metal, it should draw the attention of most any prog fan due to its strange timbres and unusual spacey sounds, and should it dissapoint anyone it could be a metal fan for not being heavy. For anyone interested in the progression of sounds through prog this is a must have.

Report this review (#218303)
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Man, I honestly don't know how I missed these guys for so long. Don't think that I've only just heard of Voivod recently. Back when I was younger and bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden were a healthy staple of my musical diet, I at least knew who Voivod was. Except at the time they were "weird" or "too different" from any metal band I'd heard, so it was difficult to pigeonhole them. Not to mention that the sci-fi concepts went a little bit over my head, and still do quite honestly.

Voivod mixes a blend of hardcore punk, thrash metal, and progressive metal to create a really unique sound. They are fairly technical without being overly technical, and draw on many themes from Cold-War era politics to science fiction. Rush and Pink Floyd are drawn upon almost as much as early hardcore punk is on this album. To many metal fans who were lucky enough to be growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, Voivod were something of a band with a massive cult following. And many of them who were into the band talk about some of the members on this album as being legends. I wish I had been around then so I could understand what those feelings were like, but I digress. What stand out most on this album for me is how Blacky manages to fill a ridiculous amount of space in the music without shoving the other band members out of the way, and Snake's vocals are quite distinct, which is partially due to the French-Canadian accent in my opinion. When I first heard this album many years ago, I dismissed it after a few listens as being way too out there. Now that I have a more expanded music ear, I'm surprised I couldn't see how original this album was. Quite honestly, I still think it's pretty original. I especially love the Pink Floyd cover of Astronomy Domine. Like UMUR, I heard this version before I heard the Pink Floyd version. And I do think I prefer this one a little more.

While Nothingface definitely isn't a masterpiece in my opinion, it is certainly light years ahead of its time. Even today it still sounds pretty original. I'll give it 4 stars, and I'm so glad I gave it another chance. I may have to upgrade it to 5 stars eventually though because it's so close to masterpiece status.

Report this review (#251020)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Continuing their progressive tendencies, Voivod delivers their most personal, elaborated and most widely acknowledged achievement ever with Nothingface. However, the emphasis on technicalities and production make it a very distant album, lacking the direct emotional appeal as well as the rocking song writing and spontaneity of the two preceding albums.

The album starts most impressing with the dramatic space prog intro of The Unknown Knows, what follows is pure guitar bliss. The production is perfect this time and balances all instruments perfectly. As a song though, this never clicked with me, it's sought-after and stops rather abruptly just when it's really getting interesting. The entire album boast impressive musicianship and amounts of originality that are simply unfair when compared to most other bands, but the songs sound studied, sterile and lack vigour and naturalness. Especially 'Snake' disappoints me. He let go of the punk flavours of his voice but does not have enough melodic qualities to compensate for it. The previous album had a better balance there.

Given my quibbles with the compositions, it's no surprise that this album is at its most convincing when they leave the songwriting to someone else. It's a bit cynical maybe but the quality difference of the Pink Floyd classic Astronomy Domine with any other song on the album is phenomenal. Here they can hang their unique sound and daft playing on a really accomplished piece of music and the result is phenomenal. It's not better then PF's Umma Gumma version but it's a very fine metalized version.

Nothingface is Voivod's acclaimed masterpiece and an essential album. However, you might not be the only one out there to be disappointed with its detached manner, sterility or far-fetched song writing. If such would be the case, don't discard the band too soon, you still might find much to enjoy in the two powerful albums that preceded or in the two more easily flowing albums that followed. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#264735)
Posted Sunday, February 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Honestly, if you'd have asked me what was going on in the progressive metal scene during the 80s, I'd have probably responded "What progressive metal scene?" without a moment's hesitation. Oh, well sure, there's Queensr˙che and their magnum opus "Operation: Mindcrime" which came out in the late 80s, and a handful of other worthy releases... but certainly nothing like this. Listening to "Nothingface" makes an album like "Operation: Mindcrime" sound like little more than a hair metal band's attempt at a concept album, rather than something truly progressive.

Voivod definitely has a lot to offer fans of thrash metal and punk, while also adding their own unique style of progressive metal into the mix. To this day I have not heard anything quite like it. This album is full of inventive guitar riffs, sudden tempo changes, and other such technical wizardry that fans of prog love so much. And holy damn, it's even got a fantastic cover of "Astronomy Domine", but don't let that be your main motivator for picking up the album, as all of the original songs on this album are more than worth your while.

And for the record, I love "Operation: Mindcrime", and I apologize for comparing the band to a hair metal outfit. :P

Report this review (#277631)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now this is on of the more unique albums I've heard. I was intrigued by the claim that Voivod incorporated progressive elements into thrash metal. That is certainly the way to describe "Nothingface". It truly bridges the gap between prog and thrash. I was expecting thrash that perhaps stop and go, with clean elements, different time signatures, etc. However, that was not really the case. This is a true merger of thrash metal and prog.

This album has lots of double bass as is fairly fast paced, (with pretty thrashy sections throughout). However, it certainly pushes the boundaries of thrash metal. The bass is heavier than the guitar, (and the bass work is amazing on this album) the guitar is fairly high pitched and solo's are quite melodic and groovy. Of course there is the stop/go feel and technicality that we love in prog metal.

One of my favorite things about Voivod, and is heard almost exclusively on this album, is how there almost no tremolo picking used. Instead Denis D'Amour (Piggy) uses chords. These are often played on the higher end of the guitar, giving the album a really frantic feeling that I just love.

All the instruments on this album are amazing. The guitar work is unique and superb, the bass is wonderful and the drumming is pretty technical. The composition of the songs are great, and as mentioned before the frantic feeling guitar work really fits with thrash metal.

The only real downside to this album are the vocals. They are good, and I actually enjoy them pretty well. However, I found them a bit difficult at times. Every song on the album is good, and there are no real slow parts, (the one upside to being rooted in thrash I suppose is that songs are not long enough to grow old or have down parts).

While it is difficult to do, I can not give this album five stars. While I would say it is certainly a masterpiece, it just does not give me the feeling of a five star album. There is no weak song but "Into my Hypercube" and "Sub Effect" are a little on the weak side. Also, the Pink Floyd cover is well done but in my opinion, it is the weakest song on the album and some parts drag a little. While this is not Voivod's doing per se, it is a weak part in the chain. A great album that I would highly recommend for anyone. Four Stars

Report this review (#282453)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars OK, gather around kids, I'm going to tell you what prog-metal *should* sound like. Shredding, blastbeats and New Age keyboards is NOT how prog-metal should sound. This album came out in 1989 and is even 'proggier' than their last album. However, I'm not too much into what they did after this, mainly because later albums seemed either more streamlined or wanted to sound more like 'normal' metal. Actually, I'm not much into their early hardcore punk/thrash stuff either. But here they reached their artistic peak. Nothingface has great production for it's genre and era, mainly because you can actually hear the bass! Of course these guys had a Floyd influence(more on that later), but I read an interview with them from the early '90s where they say they used to listen to Magma(!) A metal band from Quebec influenced by Magma...Awesome!!!

I still have my original cassette of this somewhere(I think), but I recently heard a remastered CD of this album and I didn't like it so much. It's too compressed and the drums are too loud and irritating to the ears. Also, they have the "Intro" to "Unknown Knows" as a seperate track. Why? What was the point of that? I guess in case some kid with ADHDDVDVD got bored with the 30 seconds of spacy noises and just wanted to get to the rockin' part of "Unknown Knows". Well, before somebody sucked the life out of this album by remastering it, it *was* a great sounding album. Lots of dynamics: the quiet parts were quiet and the loud parts were loud. Y'know, the way music is *supposed* to sound!

One of the band members was named 'Piggy', I think it was the bass player, not sure. Anyway, the three musicians just gel here. Lots of start/stop stuff going on where the three seem connected telepathically. Changes in tempo and time, tritones and dissonance pretty much separated Voivod from other metal bands in the late '80s. The most well-known song here is of course their cover of Floyd's "Astronomy Domine" which is well done(they later did a version of another Floyd track "The Nile Song" which is...uh...not so well done). Clearly they based their version on the one found on Ummagumma. Oh yeah, they have a singer too. Great album. 4 stars(try and track down an older copy if you can).

Report this review (#303824)
Posted Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Voivod - Nothingface (1989)

Progressive metal ain't my expertise, but once and a while I'm prepared to make an exception for some bands. My brother first introduced me to Voivod and I liked their inventive and progressive metal style.

The vocals of Denis Belanger are a bit punky and it reminds me of two styles: Iron Maiden's Paul di'Anno (which I think is great) and the psychedelic sound of German Krautrocker's Can who introduced the psychedelic alternative of punky vocals. The guitar sound and style of Denis d'Amour quickly became one of my favorites in the metal-scene. His inventive use of non-conventional chords for trash/progressive metal is really good. The drums are very good as well and the bass-lines are perfect. On the album there are many passages with two guitars.

Though Voivod has frenzied expression and the suprise attack as main weapons for their brutal sound, there's still enough room for good song-writing and composition that makes sense. A lot of bands loose themselves when using to many different ideas in one song, but Voivod seems to know where it's going. I also like the spacey passages and the futuristic lyrics of the music. I really think Voivod offers a good alternative for the otherwise often meaningless or cheesy lyrics of metal. Furthermore it's good to point out there's one cover on this album; Astronomy Domine which of course was written by Pink Floyd. Voivod's version is really good, really heavy and has that same energetic feel as the original. Good work.

Now, I haven't heard other albums of Voivod, so I can't make a comparison between them. I've been told this album is more 'conventional/commercial/accesible' or whatever but I can't say this an apparent problem whilst listening to the album.

Conclusion. A good place to do my cautious step into progressive metal (as long as it's available on vinyl that is). I like the melodic, dissonant and heavy sound of Voivod and their composition is really good. The sound of the band is very original, so I can't give less then four stars for this one.

Report this review (#368771)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Voivod developed their music beyond "progressive thrash metal" with their fifth album Nothingface. The influence of progressive rock in to their music can be seen easly. Although this album is a masterpiece for me, I can't recomend this album to anyone. Its not easy listening and vocals are [&*!#]ty for lots of people. I don't like vocals either but what makes this album as a masterpiece is not vocal parts. Complex song writing style may shock you if you carefully listen the album. Pink Floyd cover Astronomy Domine is beyond its original and one of the best covers I have ever heard. If you listen music carefully you can find lots of amazing work and after probably you will try to understand how these guys made such a great work.
Report this review (#371257)
Posted Sunday, January 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is Voivod's progressive metal masterpiece and maybe their most diversified and technical album. Every fan of this band that I know considers this album as a brilliant masterpiece and one of the top three album of the Quebeckers and so do I. It is a shame that this album is not available on CD nowadays and I hope that Away's promises will come true and that he will rerelease the old albums with some bonus material.

The album is somehow divided in two parts: A very catchy and easily appreciable first part and a more technical and complicated second part.

The first half starts with a very floating and dreamy atmosphere that makes you travel on the waves of space and time during the short introduction and the first song "The Unknown Knows". This song is progressive but still heavy and straight and has an amazing chorus and is like nothing you have ever listened before. There are more details in this song than other progressive or science-fiction influenced bands put into a whole album.This high level continues throughout the next songs. I have to mention the Pink Floyd cover song "Astronomy Domine" which is even darker and eerier than the original version. I doesn't appear as a cover version at all and is perfectly integrated in the whole album concept. This song is what I would call "space metal" if such a genre exists and it is an eternal classic in the band's career. This song addicts you the first time you listen to it and drowns you in a really special mood. This song is simply out of this world!

The album is very technical and not always easy to approach in its second half though. A good example for this is the song "X-Ray Mirror" which is as strange and bizarre as its title. You really have to take your time to discover those songs of the second half and understand all the changes and details within them. But I think that Voivod sadly concentrated too much on the technical and conceptual aspect in some of the songs and forgot about the eerie and floating catchyness of the first four songs. Some songs like "Pre-Ignition" are really uneasy to listen to and destroy the interesting flow which the first songs elaborated. From a technical or creative point of view, there is not much to argue about though.

All in all, there are the four first perfect songs that make you lose your sense of space and time and travel through a diversified and strange galaxy you have never heard about. The second part is less intense but may impress you with its technically perfect and somehow very intellectual approach.

This album is also a turning point in the band's discography and the beginning of their progressive years. This album leads logically to "Angel Rat" which is my favourite album of the band and redefines the definition of progressive rock.

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

Report this review (#383276)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Nothingface' - Voivod (10/10)

Although I would consider myself to be a fairly well-versed metalhead through and through, thrash metal is not a genre I have ever had much luck with. Being introduced to thrash by such albums as Slayer's 'Reign In Blood', I was never impressed and found the obsessive tendencies towards soloing and speed to be somewhat tasteless. Now, enter Voivod; a progressive thrash metal band from Montreal that would not only change my view on thrash metal, but also my perspective of how one could play the guitar. Since being introduced to this majestic album, I since consider it to be one of my favourite metal albums of all time, and for very good reason. 1989's 'Nothingface' is a unique album like no other in thrash, and with its combination of powerful originality and strong songwriting, Voivod have created what I now easily consider to be the greatest thrash album of all time, bar none.

Starting out as a more typical metal band, 'Nothingface' would see Voivod inherit even more progressive trends into their music. Changes in time signature, hallucinogen-addled lyrical themes and experimental musicianship would equate to a sound quite far flung from virtually all of the other metal released in its day. Like all of the best bands, Voivod's sound is equally divided amongst its four members. Perhaps most important is the atypical and disharmonic style of riffing from Denis 'Piggy' L'Amour, now unfortunately laid to rest. A very clear alternative to the 'skill through speed and soloing' approach adopted by most thrash musicians, Piggy makes his talent shown through using very irregular, at times unsettling chord structures and frantic switches between riffs. As a guitarist myself, Piggy's intricate work with chord experiments and unique tone stands as being one of my greatest influences; a guitarist who showed me that there was much more to metal guitar than going down the route of shredding. For that, I am indebted to him.

Also here are the keen bass lines of Jean-Yves Theriault. Usually the bass is not a particularly important instrument (instead gravitating towards a back-up), but Voivod makes it nearly as important as Piggy's guitar in the mix. The result is a mixed sound that has a much deeper resonance to it than most other bands. There are some surprisingly technical bass riffs here, which add to the already schizoid nature of Piggy's riffs. Denis Belanger's vocals on the other hand are not nearly as skillfully accomplished as the craft of the bassist or guitarist, are full of charisma and expression. An incredibly unique voice with a bit of a Francophone tinge to it that can only be found in Quebec, he leads the band very well, although some of the lyrics can get weak and amount to little more than technobabble over abstract science fiction concepts. The least remarkable aspect of the performance on 'Nothingface' is the drumwork of Michael Langevin, but it remains quite strong, leading the time signature changes with precision.

'Nothingface' is easily one of the strongest metal albums ever made. Some strong songwriting is made even more incredible by the band's innovative performance. If you're like me, you might be starved for some really original sound in the genre of metal. Voivod has accomplished this with 'Nothingface', and in doing so, they have made what is one of my favourite metal albums ever.

Report this review (#428111)
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Detached technical metal with some shining moments.

Another very technical prog album from Voi Vod, "Nothingface" follows along the same lines as the previous release "Dimension Hatross", science fiction concepts, odd time sigs that change constantly and very heavy riffs. Snake's vocals are easy to listen to, no growling at all, and lots of innovative styles. The sterile lyrics and sheer detachment the band conveys on this will alienate some and, in my opinion, hinders it from being up to the standard of the previous release.

It begins with The Unknown Knows, a low droning sound is heard that builds into spacey industial noise, then Piggy's distorted mega riffs and howling lead screams out. The riff that follows is a fast tempo fractured ametrical pattern. It sounds the same as "Dimension Hatross" album but delightfully so as that was a terrific release. It doesn't take long until the odd time shifts begin; at 3:44 a broken signature pummels the order into glorious chaos. The bass pounds deep and resonates with excellent pulsating drums.

Astronomy Domine is one of the best Pink Floyd covers, Voi Vod also did other Pink Floyd songs but nothing comes close to this. The harmony in the verse is similar to early Floyd. I love the way Piggy plays the metal riffs to this classic instead of the "oooooohs". The lead break is astounding, as good as I have heard on this song. It also has that "Ummagumma" quiet section, and is very spacey and must be the heaviest version ever. Quite simply this track is a masterpiece.

Missing Sequences has a strong rhythm and features a booming bass solo and some innovative guitar work. Snake sings some excellent melodies on this track, and definitely it is a great performance from Piggy who keeps perfect timing with the percussion in very complex technical patterns.

X ray Mirror lyrics make sense "Tunnel seems so long, Touching the bottom, A slim reflexion, Punctured my vision, I didn't notice, Beside the last door, Standing on nothing, There was a mirror." The time sigs are in constant flux, competing with odd drumming and bassline shapes.

Inner Combustion is a great song with powerful lyrics; "All am I, I am all, Fluorescent light, Pellucid mineral, Essential dogma, Excludes the logical, Immobile centre, One, two, three for nothing, Projection ponder, Under a raven's wing, Catalyst fusion, Inner combustion." Piggy's metal riffing is second to none and he is simply at his best here, especially the grinding lead break. Snake's vocals remind me of Hawkwind at times.

Pre-ignition is a faster song with some inventive signatures and weird lyrics; "Grinding round, The hydraulic wheel, Extraction, The ultimate greed, Now hidden from view, Surveying stable shifts, A feeble groove, Unintentional split." It's not a love song. The industrial sounds add to the overall concept of decayed social damage by pipes and factories that pollute the skies in an apocalyptic future dystopia.

Sub-Effect has some awesome riffing that slices and dices any sense of consistent timing; perhaps it is consistent in that it has chaotic punctuations consistently. It has a terrific middle section with chiming guitar, especially the section where Snake sings "Please no Too late for S.O.S. Mute island, fish-eye view, Circling the border line, No resource, no rescue, I'm stranded, I'm otherwise."

There are lots of moments to savour for metal heads and prog fans alike but this album did not impact me as much as "Dimension Hatross" previously. Perhaps it was too similar, or too mechanised; either way it did not surprise me and did not feature as many highlights. Nevertheless, "Nothingface" is a solid Voi Vod album and worthwhile seeking out, if only, for nothing else, the Astronomy Domine masterpiece.

Report this review (#589563)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Voivod followed up Dimension Hatross with an even more technically advanced album which is almost on a par with its classic predecessor. The cover of Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine is an inspired choice, since it both brings out the heavier aspects of the song in such a way as to aid a new appreciation of the original whilst fitting in with the perfectly with the esoteric sci-fi concepts the album plays with. Presented in a mildly less aggressive style than Dimension Hatross, I'd also say this album is the more accessible of the two, though I think any Voivod collection would be deficient without both.
Report this review (#595064)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Voivod had clearly set themselves apart from just about any other thrash band by Dimension Hatross in terms of sound, but they would take the whole thing further into a truly weird realm with Nothingface, which to this day remains one of the more unique albums I've ever heard.

There's still some elements of thrash present, particularly with the drumming which bounces about between spacey grooves and fast tempos augmented with double bass pedaling. But man, there's a truly strange aural experience going on here, mostly due to Denis d'Amour's wildly adventurous chord progressions that tap into some sort of futuristic fusion metal sound. When I bring up fusion in this case, I don't mean in the sense of those extreme metal bands that pummel away until suddenly shifting into some loungy jazz piece before getting all heavy again. The jazziness in Nothingface is inherent throughout the album due to the nature of the music as a whole, with the bass guitar absolutely necessary and up front to anchor the music while the guitar explores tritone textures and dissonant passages that still retain an appealing smoothness.

Another important aspect of this album is Denis Belanger. On this album, his vocals stand out as an original and rare blending of alternative, punk and space rock stylistics...eschewing the snarly yelling of his full throttle thrash days. As a result, the album, though clearly metal in instrumentation, doesn't necessarily feel like a metal album, but almost like some heavy space rock album with elements of metal music woven into the songs. It's quite strange and to this day not often mimicked.

The most important thing to note, however, is that these songs are generally quite entertaining. Tracks like "The Unknown Knows" and "Inner Combustion" are punchy with some cool cyberpunk attitude, and a track like "Into My Hypercube" adds softer passages with agreeable melodies and interesting lyrics. My personal favorite would be the final cut, being "Sub Effect", with its fantastic opening couple of minutes provided by the jerky rhythms and the singer's unique a tough & mean version of that Violent Femmes guy. There's also that tripped out break with jangly distant guitars two thirds of the way through that number that's just a great insert into the song while not being jarring.

The cover of Astronomy Domine deserves mention as well; being one of the better Pink Floyd covers I've heard with some spot-on guitar playing. A few of the other tracks such as "Pre-Ignition", while fine enough in their own right, don't resonate as well as others, and as the album wears on, it can feel a bit "same-y" on a few occasions despite being a complete anomaly in the metal world. Still, it was quite a release back in the day, and still has few peers even now. An excellent work overall.

Report this review (#868991)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars After going full frontal prog with the outstanding concept album Dimension Hatross, Voivod took another opportunity to tweak their game. Keeping up with the sci-fi theme that had served them so well to this point, they would break almost completely from their thrash metal roots. Well, at least the thrash part. The new formula would lead to the widely acclaimed Nothingface, their most popular release and resident of US college radio top 40 charts in late 1989-early 1990.

From the word go it is obvious Voivod had a far better budget for recording. The thrash sound of the 2 previous albums was accompanied by heavy reverb. Nothingface pulled the sound closer to the listener. The thrashy beat speed is evident on the opener, The Unknown Knows, but gives way on the rest album to a very eclectic rhythm library that play more junctional beats to the overlying guitar riffs. Dennis D'amour's guitar playing, while remaining unorthodox and routinely atonal, tends to be more melodic, arpeggiated and exploring broader chord extensions than at any other point in Voivod's discography. Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault maintains his "blower bass" style, but sounds more defined within the recording. Vocally, Denis "Snake" Bélanger continues to bring what I call his "apocalyptic town crier" vocals to the party, this time appearing a bit less monotone than before.

The overall impression remains high energy, but presents a much more sophisticated instrumental interplay than other Voivod material. The highlight for many, otherwise a sidelight to me, is the inclusion of Pink Floyd cover, Astronomy Domine. This was likely the piece that propelled the album to the heretofore unseen mainstream popularity. As I was not a particular fan of the original, I can take it or leave it. That being said, it was cetainly a more than proficient rendition.

Nothingface and its predecessor, Dimension Hatross, will always stand out as game changers in the prog metal scene. And game changers for the band themselves. While so many rising stars from the thrash metal scene were flaming out, Voivod was carving a niche for themselves as true progressive metal originals. Nothingface is the second consecutive (and last) masterpiece for a unique band among their contemporaries. 5 stars, absolutely essential.

Report this review (#1695797)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Farewell, thrash my love... for I now am progressive: 9/10

Beginning with the simplicity of speed metal, the Canadian band VOIVOD developed a lot through its musical journey, being able to output something as complex as NOTHINGFACE. It is certainly less abrasive than its predecessor, DIMENSION HATR'SS, yet, simultaneously, harbors a much more technical style. This happens because NOTHINGFACE is more equally balanced on its progressive and thrash metal proportions, differently than its predecessor which visibly weighs to the latter's side.

In fact, this is VOIVOD's most significant release for the fact it demarked the band's entrance into progressive metal properly. Easily observable materialistically: fluid shifts of time signatures and intricate rhythms permeate the album; experimentative usage of dissonant chord progressions - which have always been the band's watermark - is intensified; a crystallization of VOIVOD's unique storytelling, coupling it with unusual song structures; there is even a track influenced by the Igor Stravinsky's THE RITE OF SPRING. Technicality? Check. Experimentation? Check. Unconventional song structures? Check. Classical influence? Check. Objectively, NOTHINGFACE is progressive.

Departing from this satirical "objectivity" analysis and going to more subjective waters, I'd say that VOIVOD in certain aspects reminds me of MEGADETH. Both initiated their trajectory as speedy and abrasive bands; both developed - especially on a technical level - astoundingly and were important enough to be part of a "Big Four"; both have two magnum opuses (PEACE SELLS/RUST IN PEACE and DIMENSION HATR'SS/NOTHINGFACE) where the first is rawer whereas the second is more polished and widely revered as superior, and both bands kick ass like hell. I consider both bands' first magnum opus better (I like their crude aggression). Both vocalists have pretty similar timbres but, unlike Mustaine, Denis B'langer actually knows how to sing (not like this makes him better, I love Mustaine's sloppy and ducky vocals) and in many moments seems to mimic the American thrasher. Both second magnum opuses offer legendary and catchy riffs but, unlike MEGADETH, VOIVOD's have an absolutely lackluster amount of solos and when they happen are weak (it sounds like alternative metal at best, Denis. Where's DIMENSION HATR'SS' shredding and spectacular harmonic pinching?).

Aside from the scarce amount of solos, another complaint I found whilst listening to NOTHINGFACE is that, in a certain way, the songs sound a little too similar. I think the issue lies in melody because rhythmically/structurally/lyrically they are individually unique and easily distinguishable from each other.

But hell even this wasn't enough to prevent me from headbanging vigorously to NOTHINGFACE's several anthems like I didn't do in a long, long time. If you're looking for quality, slightly eccentric, technically impressive (impressive, not mind blogging) and mildly extreme metal, look no further. NOTHINGFACE, which lies in the frontier between progressive and thrash, will suffice to appease your thirst - and make you headbang like a nut.

Report this review (#1821961)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Powerful metal music with an incongruously "nice" vocalist--he sounds too New Wave/post-punk--like he hasn't moved out of the 1980s and barely out of the late 70s. And the music itself occupies more of the high end of the octaval spectrum, making it not nearly as dark or heavy metal as I expected--more like new-wave punk or post- punk.

1. "Intro / The Unknown Knows" (5:55) Great opening. Vocal more like The Clash or The Ambitious Lovers.(8.5/10)

2. "Nothingface" (4:14) more of an avant vocal with a mezzo metal sound palate. (8.75/10)

3. "Astronomy Domine" (Pink Floyd cover) (5:30) suitably metallized. I don't really know (or like) the original) so this is a nice improvement. The best sounding song on the album so far. (9/10)

4. "Missing Sequences" (5:50) opens with a sinister musical and vocal display, until a shift at 0:45 takes it into more technically proficient punk territory. Weird chordal and tempo shifts beneath the singer's constant delivery. Too many shifts. It's as if many riffs and cut from other songs or ideas got all spliced together for this one. Weird, but kind of cool and clever. (8.75/10)

5. "X-Ray Mirror" (4:28) opens a little Crimsonian before turning more tech-metal. Vocally, I'm reminded of Bowie, Zappa, Peter Hammill, and Arto Lindsay. Nice guitar work throughout. (9/10)

6. "Inner Combustion" (3:48) IMHO, the Peter Hammill-like vocal doesn't really fit with the music. Arto Lindsay stylings in the second half. It's as if the band of musicians and the vocalist are operating in two different universes. (8/10)

7. "Pre-Ignition" (5:12) the most complexly constructed and cleverly executed song on the album, for once the lyrics are paled by the work of the musicians. (8.75/10)

8. "Into My Hypercube" (5:04) opens with a soft, gentle sonic palette--even the whispery vocal--until 0:35 when full power distortion is engaged and the vocalist restores his grit. Kind of a cool BLUE 'YSTER CULT Secret Treaties vibe to this one. (8.75/10)

9. "Sub-Effect" (4:30) not sure why, but I think this is my favorite song on the album. I think it's the melody and fitting shifts. (9/10)

Total Time: 44:31

I imagine people who like intelligent lyrics set to thin-walled guitar-bass-and-drums metal would love this.

B/four stars; an excellent heavier contribution to Prog World--especially as it's coming from the 1980s!

Report this review (#2415948)
Posted Saturday, June 27, 2020 | Review Permalink
5 stars Voivod's second grand breakthrough. After the very progressive and sound-defining "Dimension Hatröss" released just one year before, Voivod's fifth album, "Nothingface" finds Voivod at one of its many creative peaks.

Nothingface was meant to be their commercial breakthrough, featuring more accessible music compared to their previous albums, while using the progressive aspects from its predecessor.

It wasn't that much of a commercial breakthrough unfortunately, but we got an even better type of breakthrough: A Creative One.

The album starts with The Unknown Knows: A catchy, progressive and heavy track. A very defining track as the rest of the album sounds alot like this one. One of my favorites from the album.

Gotta give it five stars because of how unique (and well executed) this album (and the rest of Voivod's discography starting from Killing Technology) is, and how well executed its ideas are.

Report this review (#2531189)
Posted Friday, April 2, 2021 | Review Permalink
3 stars Review #112!

'Nothingface' is an interesting metal album. It is prone to subtleties and just noticeable nuances. This comes through with the first track, 'Intro/The Unknown Knows'. A minute in the song explodes. Denis Bel'nger has some distinct vocals that I really enjoy. This song has very rapidly changing time signatures. The guitar, bass, and drums are all going insane in perfect harmony. The lyrics are dark and surreal. This is a great song. 'Nothingface', the title track, has some great lyrics and a nice chorus. I really enjoy the bass in this song. It doesn't overshadow the guitar, but is there enough to be loud and prominent. 'Astronomy Domine', (yes, the Pink Floyd cover) builds for a while until the original melody kicks in. This is a solid cover; I think it is just as good as Les Claypool's. The guitar solo is captivating. 'Missing Sequence' opens with a really nice beat. The odd pacing allows for the drums and bass to show off. Like all the songs on this album, the songs change melody frequently and rapidly. There is an absolutely incredible guitar solo somewhere within that blend of melodies. This might be my favorite song on the album. 'X- Ray Mirror' has some dark lyrics and nice guitar riffs and solo. 'Inner Combustion' has some of the best vocals on the album and the drums are very strong and powerful. It is also the shortest song on this album. 'Pre-Ignition' has dark lyrics and the guitar just feels like it is going to explode in your face. This is probably my second-favorite song on this album. The guitar solo is intense and fun, although it's quite short. 'Into My Hypercube' has a nice soft opening. The lyrics are pretty depressing. The guitar solo is short and digestible. This is one of the best songs on the album. 'Sub-Effect' has a funky beginning, but is quickly picked up by heavy instrumentation. The song has pessimistic, cynical lyrics. A pretty grim ending to a dark album.

Report this review (#2929005)
Posted Monday, May 29, 2023 | Review Permalink

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