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Marc Baum
4 stars This is the first Voivod album that I have discovered and I must say that I am blown away with this spaced up metal release! It's very hard to describe their type of music in some words, but "Angel Rat" is strongly Rush oriented, one reason could be that Terry Brown had recorded it. The opening song "panorama" is very accesible for this band, most of their songs are very complicated to understand at the first listening, but with this song they had broken this rule! The whole album sounds like Rush on speed, but don't forget the voice Denis Belanger, which is just state of art! Well, I still enjoy the whole album when I hear it, but there is one song that sets a bit apart from the others, that's the title track. Unbelievable atmospheric, spaced-up, melodic prog song. In the beginning days of Voivod, their name stand for alien-themed, punk-styled thrash metal, since "Killing Technology" the things turned into more psychedelic kind of hard rock/metal ('til "Nothingface" all was a little bit Pink Floyd influenced, for example they also coverd a song from PF on Nothingface), but "Angelrat" was the most melodic and accesible work to date by this band and showed their faible for Rush progressive sounds, mixed together with fast heavy metal power. Those, who think this sounds interestening, should watch out for "Angel Rat" and Voivod in general. I highly recommend this album as a fan of metal & progressive rock!
Report this review (#33885)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars this album in my opinion is Sgt Pepper of 90s. yes for me the best album of 90s. 11 pop rock songs but it's more like psychedelic pop, briliant guitar work and very interesting lyrics. Michel Langevin plays his drums very swingy what sounds really good. producer Terry Brown (worked with Rush) did great job not trusting digital technology while recording, so album was recorded on analog equipement. this album is essential, definitely masterpiece. A must.
Report this review (#33886)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars As nothingface, this record broke the spell and beacme a No1 hit for at least for 8 weeks (as long as i remember) A more commercial approach from the band, and a more focused lyrical statement. This record is by far better than son many post-glam prog-metal acts (no names required). The open song is an instant magnet, leading you into a whole story a-la Tim BUrton, and yes, they are good at that, i mean it, "the prow" an "golem" are pure jewels of alternative-meets-prog-meets-metal, perhaps, the "weakest" part is the very alternative "clouds in my house". In so many cases, Voivod is a very serious band that has fought against oblivion and member changes, that in the end, beacme a very strong force in music. Cheers, and enjoy
Report this review (#33887)
Posted Thursday, January 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Funny how one of the most streamlined Voivod albums is also considered their deepest foray into prog-rock. Also funny how so many people hated this album when it was released in 1991, but now admit liking it. That's okay.some of the best albums are the ones that take a long time to sink in. I loved 'Angel Rat' from the beginning, but was still shocked at the direction they took, especially considering the last we'd heard from them was the cold tech-fest of 'Nothingface'. Where that album was incredibly ambitious, painstakingly thought-out and sonically antiseptic, 'Angel Rat' exudes a natural, earthy flow. Helped by the tight yet expansive production job of master Terry Brown (yes, THAT Terry Brown), 'Angel Rat' is a triumph.

Gone are the difficult rhythms, the cybernetic coldness replaced by wide, warm vistas of guitar, subtle beds of keyboards and Away's maturation as a drummer of pure feel and deep-pocket groove. Opening track "Panorama" reflects these traits, a straightforward plunge into cerebral rock. Masterfully crafted, its deceptively simple arrangement is bulked up considerably by the infectious rhythmic drive and Snake's (finally) human vocal approach. "Clouds In My House" brings the prog in, with a gorgeous backdrop of shadowy keyboards laying down its foundation. Rhythms are driving and smooth, with a wonderful tone to Blacky's bass. At this point it becomes quite clear that no other metal band had ever progressed so far in so short a time. To think that the churning noise of 'Rrroooaaarrr' was only 6 short years before 'Angel Rat', and that all 4 members made this evolution see how 'Angel Rat' is a very special album in the band's discography.

"The Prow" is next. Capable of conjuring deep emotional reaction, this deceptively simple song is spiced with a shimmering mid-section and a compelling nautical vibe. Purely passionate performances from all members. There's a lot to say about its superbly crafted 3:30 running time, but let me only point out Away's hi-hat/snare syncopation--a joy to listen to every time. (An underrated master of his instrument.) From here the album scatters in a variety of directions, from more straightforward moments like "Best Regards", "Twin Dummy" and "The Outcast" (all of them having their own character) to spacious epics (in scope, not in elapsed time) like "Angel Rat" and "Freedoom". Piggy's guitar work is compact and relativity conservative, but when he shines, he's a neon star exploding. Check out his deceptively simple "lead" at the end of "Best Regards": one caterwauling note-bend that finally dissolves into space. Intuition on the level of David Gilmour. Blacky's bass is a crisp punch during this entire sequence. This song is one of his best moments; it's sad this was to be his final album with the band.

Though they're fairly short (3:35 and 4:37, respectively), "Angel Rat" and "Freedoom" are the prog highlights on the album. The title track is sympathetic and edgy, making smart use of dynamics and getting the most out of their studio and producer. "Freedoom" is a cosmic chill-out that ends up exploding in an "Astronomy Domine" fashion in its climax. And then there's the sad tale of "Golem" (dominated by Blacky's simple-but-effective bass lines) and the science-fact lesson of "Nuage Fractal", both deep-album tracks that keep the album moving with considerable momentum. Things come to an end with the urgent "None Of The Above", which swings the folk-tale musings and science-fiction delving back to the real world. A driving, rhythmic, pulsing song, the album ends almost like it began.

'Angel Rat' is Voivod's ultimate triumph. It shows a band that has learned much from the experimental and complex material of albums previous. It is masterfully written and suberly performed, a clutch of songs maintaining the spirit of discovery and progression they've always strived towards, with emphasis on studio creation, songcraft and aural escapism. Everything the band had been working toward comes to fruition on 'Angel Rat'. It was a commercial failure upon release, but seems to be enjoying a resurrection as an "ahead-of-its-time" prog-metal classic these days. Long may it fly out of the cut- out bins.

Report this review (#33888)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Don't believe the hype....Period.

I bougt this record due to the the great reviews here on I have found a lot of great music after the reading the reviews here on this site. However, this 5-star Angel Rat rated was a huge disapppointment.

To me these guys play simple rock music just like any average cellar band. Where are the great solos? The fabouls transitions? The taletented musicians? Not on this record I'm afraid. Frankly, I rather listen to Limp Bizkit than this overrated [&*!#].

Report this review (#35182)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, this was my first Voivod album I bought around '93 and I was blown away. It was completly different from the bands I knew, but I liked what I heard here and started to collect Voivod albums and became a 'Vodhead' (who spread the Voivod virus accross the universe).

This is the last album with original bassist Blacky who decided to leave due to musical differences and career opportunities. This is the middle album from the 'prog holy trinity' and Voivod newbies often think about it as the most accessible, soft and commercial album. Yes, the song seems to be easy and simple but actually understanding the album and enjoying it in its entirety is not that easy! Comparing the music what you can hear on this album with the previous ones ("Nothingface" and "Dimension Hatross"), the whole style changed; "Angel Rat" is a different approach. The journey from chaos-thrash to prog-rock was not so long.

Tracks like 'The Prow', 'Angel Rat', 'Clouds in my House' and 'Freedoom' are so unique that I wouldn't know what to compare it to, very Floyd-ish sometime (this is just a feeling, there are not any straight musical similarity or only minor) and very 'spacey', the typical ethereal Piggy-chords made this music so unique, some parts easily could be the soundtrack of the history of Universe. ('Nuage Fractal', 'Freedoom') Most of the lyrics are based on a book written by James Gleick, "Chaos. Making a new Science", which is a good introduction to fractal-geometry and chaos for non-professional readers.

If you have never heard voivod,and your tastes run towards the so-called progressive metal subgenres,this album will most surely satisfy. This album is not metal, "Angel Rat" is progressive rock, so here is the chance to start your Voivod collection (well, it can be difficult, I think it's out-of-print for a while). I call your attention once again: understanding the songs is not so easy!

Highlights: Clouds in my House, The Prow, Best Regards, Twin Dummy, Angel Rat, Freedoom


Report this review (#44863)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've been listening to a lot of Voivod recently and this album is perhaps the easiest to listen to. It is certainly their most accessible. But don't come to this album expecting the melody and intricate soloing of typical progressive metal. Voivod are not about that at all. Rather they are about edgy discord (especially from the late Denis d'Amour's guitar) and difficult rhythmic patterns. And Snake's vocals, whilst mature, have lost nothing of the power evident in the band's earlier releases.

What you can expect is an at times stark and frightening vision of the life we live and where it may be taking us. But it is a worthwhile vision and one that should be listened to. Carefully. Because things are not always as they seem in Voivod-land. Even up tempo happy, bounce of "The Prow", by far the most radio-friendly fare here, disguises a dangerously dark dialogue.

Thanks to the maturity shown by the perpetrators and the excellent production work by Terry Brown this one is certainly a masterpiece.

Report this review (#96244)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After having perfected their truly original sound (from Killing Technology to NothingFace), Voivod could have easily made a Nothingface part II and fans would have been wild with glee and admiration. But instead, it was decided to try something totally different from their previous outings, more daring, more melodic, progressive, psychedelic and less metal. I don't know if it has anything to do with the fact that Voivod served as an opening act for Rush (during the Presto tour in Montreal, Voivod presented Nothingface live to a much bewildered audience), but the influence is there for all to notice. Heck, even old-time Rush producer Terry Brown produced this one !!! And to good effect.

Long time Voivod bassist Jean-Yves 'Blacky' Thériault, probably in part due to the band's sound shift, serves time here as a session player, but is still giving it all. He is creative and has a great tone. Axeman Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour shows his prog influences like never before here, as one can easily discern an approach similar to Alex Lifeson's songwriting and use of the instrument. Skinpounder Michel 'Away' Langevin also displays interesting creativity, opting for intricate drum parts rather than the usual double bass-drum beats of the past , fitting perfectly with the style of this album. The most improved upon aspect of Voivod on this album though are the vocals. We get to hear interesting and creative melodies courtesy of Denis 'Snake' Bélanger, who turns out to be a surprisingly good vocalist on Angel Rat.

The songs on this offering are varied, yet all good. A great listen from beginning to end. Prog lovers not into metal should find this album interesting. Though not a masterpiece, I give this album four well deserved stars.

Report this review (#110231)
Posted Thursday, February 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Angel Rat" by Voivod is a very good album.

Though not "perfect," by prog-rock standards or my own, there is still so much to appreciate in this album it often petrifies me.

Voivod is a band known for their science-fiction themes. Many other prog bands deal with similar themes, or dungeons & dragons type fantasy themes, to the point wherein these ideas have almost become cliche. In 1991, enter Voivod's "Angel Rat."

Not quite science fiction or fantasy, the lyrical content of these songs concerns a haunted pirate ship and the drama created by the ghosts therein. Musically, Voivod, as usual, abandons any sort of conventional approach and pairs Piggy's dissonant chord structure with Snake's atonal vocal approach. Critics of the band say things such as, "Well, Snake is just a bad singer. He sings in monotone. He doesn't sound like an American Idol." To that I say: gibberish. Snake is one of my favorite vocalists, and I have listened to much in the way of music. His approach is intentional. Snake deliberately alienates himself from the audience to achieve an ambience of uncertainty. What is going on in the realm of the Angel Rat? Few know. Few have lived to tell the tale.

Snake's vocals cannot be duplicated. The aura he creates is one of uneasiness. One cannot feel perfectly at ease during Voivod's ramblings. One is not supposed to. The type of listener that is prepared for Voivod's sound is ready for a challenge... is ready to take what he or she knows about music and throw it out the window, to be assaulted by a sound that presumes to be from outer space... and has the unearthly sound to back this claim up.

Voivod is incredible. Angel Rat is an album worth buying.

Report this review (#115445)
Posted Saturday, March 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Angel Rat was a dissapointment to me a first, but it´s grown a little on me. This was the last album Blacky would appear on, and you can hear why. There is not much left of his signature rumbling bass ( it´s there, but due to the more subtle compositions it´s not as prominant as before), and maybe he didn´t feel there was a need for him in the band anymore.

Compared to Voivod´s earlier materiel and especially the masterpieces Killing Technology, Dimension Hatröss and Nothingface the music had become much simpler and more song orientated. The structure of the songs are very much radio rock like, which to me is dissapointing as I am bored quickly with this structure.

There are gems on Angel Rat though and a song like "the Prow" is in my eyes the most catchy and melodic song Voivod has ever written. Beautiful track, just beautiful. Songs like "Panorama", "Clouds in my House" and "Golem" have strong melodies too, but I grow tired through the album of the simple song structures and repeated choruses.

This album is not very progressive in any way, and I´m sure this is not the album that paved the way for Voivod´s place in the Prog Archives.

A solid offering though, it´s just pretty mediocre, and not very progressive.

Report this review (#146863)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars In 1991 Voivod decided to record a lighter album. This is more like rock and roll release with some outstading psychedelic vibes. The progress of the band took several years. Since Killing Technology it was clear that band drifted into progressive rock tunes but Angel Rat proves they didn't want to scare people anymore. The music isn't very complicated in its form but Denis D'amour proves again how excellent guitarist he is. Album starts with fast rock and roll tune Panorama. Structures of that song aren't very complex but sound of Piggys guitar is truly amazing. It's a bit of Rush style in that so no one should wonder. Terry Brown legendary Rush producer worked on this album. Clounds In My House is really great song, it's a bit psychedelic and if you pay attention to the lyrics you'll find interesting story very similar to what you can find in books about Moomins. This subject repeats in The Prow but this song is faster than previous one. Very melodic with good solo. Best Regards is about ecology and it's a bit psychedelic as well but Twin Dummy is totally druggy. This song is fast and melodic and those guitar licks are really excellent. You won't find it on any other release by any band. It's so unique and interesting. Circus comes to town, don't ask me what this song's about. Title song is kind of psychedelic Floyd-like ballad. It's a good one. It's again ancient fairytale. Who;s Angel Rat? Such bizarre creature. Golem is probably my favorite on this release but to be honest i don't know why cos i like all these songs. This song is mixture of rock and roll, old psychedelic rock and something else. Factor X. And better pay attention to the lyrics cos you won't hear something like that on other rock albums. It's totally crazed, it a factory of.... no you have to discover that. This spacy rock song is a true killer. The Outcast is good rock and roll song and you can also hear additional keyboard in the background. Nuage Fractal is about Lorenz Chaos Theory and Butterfly Effect. Someting worth of attention for sure. Musically it's probaly the most psychedelic song on this release. Still very melodic of course, it's like Beatles mixed with Floyd and some harder stuff. Freedom starts with some peaceful chords and Denis Belanger sings with deep voice red grass up to my knees... This song is excellent of course. It's similar formula as title song. The last track on the album is None Of The Above pro-ecological stuff with great rock and roll chords. Denis D'amour proves he's one of the best guitarists in the world. Well he was cos he sadly passed away in 2005. Anyway, Angel Rat is my favorite Voivod release by some reasons. Maybe it's not the most proggy Voivod album but it's definitely the most psychedelic and to me it's like Sgt Pepper's of 90s. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#169002)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The flow that the band had transfered the register to Mechanic Records of the affiliate of MCA in 1989 was indeed time of the revolution for the band. Voivod that receives the advice of a good flow and directionality for the band announces "Nothingface" in 1989. The impression as the content of overall a little dyspepsia might have been given to the listener in this album. However, the directionality of the music of the band leapt surely and rapidly. As for the power of the band, the listener might also have felt the appearance gradually revolutionized.

Act and meaning that performs tune of Pink Floyd. And, they have enumerated the name of Van Der Graaf Generator as one of the bands that were influenced Voivod. They surely changed the music character. The element of Thrash Metal and Punk Rock shown by an initial music character gradually became progressive on the boundary of "Nothingface".

The story that appointed Terry Brown to the producer lifted around them for producing this album. Terry Brown is famous on business with Rush. And, it is guessed that the tour in Canada to which Voivod went with Rush at this time gave a good effect for Voivod. The opinion of the company that belonged and the opinion of Terry Brown might have greatly influenced the situation in which the music character of Voivod changed remarkably.

When it composed music, intellectual sounds of men who had them listen in this album and philosophical lyrics will have been a very important, perfect challenges. The element that the band had is originally revolutionized further and the song of Vocal has been changed compared with an initial work, too. Especially, power of "Clouds In My House" and active element. Or, the progress of sensual Riff and the code is perfect. It is correct and one of the famous piece of musics of them. mightThe frame of Thrash Metal that "The Plow" and "Best Regards" are simple is exceeded. An element of Groove of "Golem" and a sensual melody might succeed, too. And, the usage and the dash feeling of the harmonica of "The Outcast" are also preeminent.

The speed that the band at this time revolutionized might have been very rapid. And, the root of the member of the band is united and progresses splendid music to the tune. And, Voivod faces development toward one top that is called "The Outer Limits".

Report this review (#237477)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars This album is quite a change compared to their previous effort. The overall sound is still very Voivod, maybe with a hint of 80's Rush in song writing and drum style. But gone are the over-complex song structures and the cool and almost sterile sound. Instead we get very straightforward but enjoyable guitar rock with catchy melodies, clean singing, restrained arrangements, excellent bass work and a rhythm section that plunges in no time through this fine set of songs. All this will probably not sound very appealing to hardcore metal heads and the album did certainly not found its way to most fans. But it's a jewel for anybody that's into great melodic rock songs.
Report this review (#237599)
Posted Sunday, September 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Back in the eighties and early nineties I lived in this small cottage that had been winterized, it probably wasn't even 500 square feet in total. Anyway we didn't have cable TV either so the two channels we did get were CBC and Global, both Canadian of course.There was this show that came on late Sunday morning that we always watched unless we were still sleeping that interviewed bands and showed videos and did silly things. It was kind of cool, and it was on that show that I first heard of VOIVOD. They interviewed them and SOUNDGARDEN because they were on tour together. SOUNDGARDEN was opening for VOIVOD on their "Nothingface" tour.They showed clips of both bands work back then and they were experimental and very different from what I was into. VOIVOD got the opportunity to open for RUSH on that same tour and since they were fans and would get some great exposure, it was a win win for them. RUSH suggested they get Terry Brown to produce their next album which turned out to be "Angel Rat" a completely different sounding animal to all the albums they had done previously. This was melodic and catchy yet still heavy and dark at times. Interesting how VOIVOD and SOUNDGARDEN released more accessible albums in 1991 in "Angel Rat" and "Badmotorfinger" respectively. I remember on that same TV show in 1991 seeing the video for "Clouds In My House" and thinking that is so good. Would you believe up until this year I could not put my hands on this album. It's out of print and badly needs to be re- issued. Thanks again to Bonnek for coming through for me. I'm glad I don't live close to him because he'd probably have me doing yard work or something to make up for all this music.

After a short intro we get "Panorama" which hits the ground running. Ripping guitar 2 minutes in. I like how the mood changes on the chorus. Great tune. "Clouds In My House" is a top three for me. It turns heavy quickly with vocals. Lighter on the chorus. It RUSH-like just before 2 1/2 minutes with bass and guitar then the guitar lights it up. Vocals are so good. "The Prow" is another top three track. It's uptempo and vocal led. Such a feel good tune. It settles before 2 minutes then kicks back in with some killer guitar. "Best Regards" is a good little rocker. It settles into a slower but heavier groove before 2 1/2 minutes.

"Twin Dummy" is a straight forward uptempo rocker until it turns a little experimental before 2 minutes. "Angel Rat" is the other top three tune. It reminds me of the eighties. I like this a lot. It's more laid back as guitar makes lots of noise. Vocals are great too. "Golem" opens with some good low end sounds as vocals and guitar join in. A change after 2 1/2 minutes. "The Outcast" opens with heavy guitar and drums as vocals join in. Excellent track. "Nuage Fractal" is dark and heavy with vocals. "Freedom" opens with gentler guitar with bass, drums and then reserved vocals. It kicks in after 2 minutes. How good is this ! Especially 3 1/2 minutes to the end. "None Of The Above" is heavy with vocals and check out the guitar 2 minutes in.

Easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#281779)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars They are not from this world any more! Voivod has transcended the waves of space and time and floats somewhere high above an ordinary human state of mind. I may warn you, because this album has nothing to do with the band's early thrash metal albums or the later extreme post industrial metal. This isn't even metal at all, it is pure and perfect progressive rock, somewhere between King Crimson's "In The Court Of The Crimson King", Rush's "Moving Pictures", Genesis' "Wind And Wuthering", Pink Floyd's "Darkside Of The Moon" and the band's previous "Nothingface", just to give you an idea.

When I first bought and listened to the album, I thought that somebody had put the wrong CD in the slipcase. This doesn't sound like anything you have heard from Voivod before and later on. Even today, when the band still plays "Panorama" or "The Prow" live on stage, it sounds much heavier and down to earth than on this album and doesn't have the same feeling at all. Voivod truly created something that they were never able to do again, they wrote this song in a very special mood. This album is softly floating and I wouldn't be surprised to know that those guys were completely on acid while they composed this album. Singer Snake completely flies away in the video clip for "Clouds In My House", high above the earth, sorrounded by starnge white paper floating around him like snow. This image represents perfectly the mood of this album.

Snake sounds softer and more emotional than ever before, the drumming is relaxed but still tight in the same way, the bass guitar creates really eerie or spacey vibes and the melodic guitar produces sounds that you have never heard before. Voivod even integrate some new instruments like the harmonica part on "The Outcast", but those surprising elements are decently used and fit perfectly to the songs. Voivod do not abuse those new elements and that's why there are many little surprises to discover on this album.

It is difficult to mention highlights on this album which works as a whole masterpiece, but half of the songs of this album also work out of the conceptual basis and give me regular chills and goosebumps.

"Panorama" reminds somehow of the syle of the previous album and is the heaviest song on the album and very well chosen as a tight opener.

"Clouds In My House" is a perfect title as this song makes you dream and fly away and has brilliantly tender and dreamy finale.

During "The Prow" you hear ocean waves and the song has a mystic atmosphere that surrounds it in a very eerie way and you can't get this song out of your head once you have listened to it.

The title song "Angel Rat" is the most spacey song on the album, has a really eerie atmosphere and feels like a bizarre dream with its floating guitars, multiple dreamy choirs and voices and almost electronical or decent new or dark wave parts.

"The Outcast" surprises with many interesting changes of style and the harmonica part in the beginning.

"Freedoom" begins as a very tender hippy ballad and is the most relaxed song Voivod have ever written.

I just mentioned six songs out of twelve which are six unique masterpieces to me. The other ones are almost as strong and the whole twelve songs form something really unique and perfect. Thrash or heavy metal fans may not get a good approach to this album which has been largely discussed, criticized and is until today very controversial. If you are a fan of progressive rock, you will adore this album though and maybe see it as the rebirth of a whole genre, it is the greatest progressive rock album since "Wind and wuthering" almost fifteen years before this one.

Every song creates a really bizarre, tender, spacy, floating, mysterious atmosphere and makes you dream and chill. This album is the most underrated album I know, it is one of my favourite albums of all time and really close to perfection!

This review was originally published on on October 6th of the year 2010.

Report this review (#383277)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I dug into the archives to give good'ole "Angel Rat" - Voivod a pair of fresh ears. There are a couple of turkeys on there(yes, including "Angel Rat" the title track with the awful opening lyric_the idiot walks along the canvass_, "Twin Dummy", "None Of The Above"...just awful). However, everything after the track "Angel Rat" is prime Voivod(in their psych-era)...and the opener "Short Wave Intro/Panorama" [email protected]#$%^&' rocks! "Clouds In My House" is an alternative classic with a great video to boot! Sounding more Rush than ever(due to Terry Brown's involvement as producer). A darker mood prevails which sets it apart from the previous mechanical sounding Nothingface. "Angel Rat" is another transitional album which would move Voivod forward into the prog.rock masterpiece known as "The Outer Limits' from 1993.
Report this review (#402960)
Posted Friday, February 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Angel Rat' - Voivod (7/10)

Although I'm entering the fanhood of Voivod a little later than most of the band's dedicated apostles, I've been listening to the albums from this band's illustrious career, and piecing together a timeline of their stylistic changes. The band started out with a clearly defined root in thrashy speed metal, but around the middle of their career, Voivod was morphing their sound with every album. 1989's 'Nothingface' was one such album that showed Voivod doing something new, and as the peak of their metal output, it was a jaw-dropping display of progressive thrash metal. Now, after such an exciting style that the band had finally found for themselves, a fan of the band at the time would probably have thought that Voivod would continue to pursue that sound for themselves, releasing album after album of similar sounding 'Nothingface' successors. Even though it came out twenty years ago, the band's sixth album 'Angel Rat' still comes as a big surprise to me. Instead of sticking with this golden style that they had innovated with 'Nothingface', they instead move on again in search of new ways to approach their music Toning down their metal grit in favour for a more mellow take on Voivod's distinct sound.

I would restrain myself from calling this a metal album; while Voivod was most certainly a metal band in earlier albums, there is not nearly the same bite here that they used to have. The songs are given mostly conventional structures, and if I was going to give any label to this music, it would have to be 'spacey hard rock'. While hearing 'Angel Rat' described like this would have me think that they were dumbing down their sound in the commericial vein that a few other thrash bands did in the early '90s, but Voivod would maintain their progressive edge in the music, despite things being a little less sporadic in the music itself. The songs here still have the sci-fi vibe of earlier Voivod material, and these songs feel more influenced by Voivod's prog influences than the metal. Piggy's riffs are still quirky, but the vanguard experimentation has been toned down. This is a very band-based effort that focuses on good songwriting. It lacks the shock and jaw-dropping nature of 'Nothingface', but the music is good. The band's performance is tight, and this may be Denis Belanger's greatest vocal performance in Voivod's history.

Despite the concise nature of the songwriting, I do find this to be Voivod's biggest grower album, and it's precisely for the fact that it is so mellow, when compared to the rest. There's no 'in your face' attitude or proggy vibe here, just songs, and for a band who would have me constantly guessing at what new exciting things would be coming the listener's way, that can be a big adjustment. Although I didn't find myself liking it all too much at the beginning, 'Angel Rat' is a greatly written album that fits snugly into the middle of Voivod's golden years.

Report this review (#511739)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Grunge from outer space?

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#1572821)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2016 | Review Permalink
Eclectic/PSIKE/JRF-Cant Teams
2 stars Continuing through Voivod's discography we suddenly drop off dramatically from the pinnacle of the band's development that was manifested in their masterworks, Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. All the signs were there for a knockout release: An amazing concept album that was matched in quality and intriguing direction shift by it followup which actually saw the band acheive a degree of popularity. Then the band hooks up with producer Terry Brown, who produced the classic era of prog royalty and fellow Canadians, Rush. With continued major label (MCA) backing the stage was set for something secial. But the magic was not to be. Bassist Jean-Yves Thériault left the band prior to the release, which should have been a warning sign

The product ended up being a very bland output. Shorter songs, pedestrian beats, and a sudden shift toward a very generic chord use and song structure. The only growth that was readily noticeable was the most melodic vocal output from Denis Bélanger to date. But it was not enough to prevent a very uninteresting, lackluster album. Voivod's core story-lines of sci-fi and intrigue was still the motif, but the abandonment of the ritualized dissonance and obtuse rhythm changes distanced the music from the story. The entire project came off as an attempt to be more "accessible" to the alternative college radio crowd that had helped the band achieve the degree of popularity seen on Nothingface. If anything positive could be said of the project outside of Snake's melodicism, it was that the recording quality was top- notch. But it was at best only as good as Nothingface, and if it was in some regard better, it was not so much that one would say, "thank god they hired Terry Brown to achieve this amazing quality".

Angel Rat isn't a "bad" album. It just isn't a good album in the context of what might have been for Voivod. And things would flounder as the years went by with ok, to not so ok, to downright bad albums. It would be 22 years before the band would produce anything close to what they accomplished with Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. There are many who hold Angel Rat in very high regard. I am not one of them. 2 stars.

Report this review (#1696142)
Posted Thursday, February 23, 2017 | Review Permalink

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