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Voivod Phobos album cover
3.06 | 79 ratings | 11 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Catalepsy I (1:15)
2. Rise (4:55)
3. Mercury (5:40)
4. Phobos (6:57)
5. Bacteria (8:08)
6. Temps Mort (1:49)
7. The Tower (6:10)
8. Quantum (6:34)
9. Neutrino (7:43)
10. Forlorn (6:01)
11. Catalepsy II (1:07)
12. M-Body (3:37)
13. 21st Century Schizoid Man (King Crimson cover) (6:34)

Total Time: 1:06:45

Line-up / Musicians

- Eric Forrest / vocals, bass
- Denis d'Amour "Piggy" / guitar
- Michel Langevin "Away" / drums, accordion, electronics

- Ivan Doroschuk / electronics
- James Cavalluzzo / electronics

Releases information

Artwork: Michel Langevin

CD Metal Mind Productions ‎- MASS CD 0455 (1997, Poland)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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VOIVOD Phobos ratings distribution

(79 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

VOIVOD Phobos reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by slipperman
3 stars Of their two Eric Forrest-era albums, this is the one that manages to sit confidently next to some of the band's other triumphs. However, it can't be too highly recommended unless you're already a well-versed fan, as there are other Voivod albums more worth your time. The length of the album, plus the Neurosis-like midpaced repetition, reduces the impact normally found on most of the band's other albums. Still, 'Phobos' emanates a monstrous sound, a successful reinvention from a band who seemingly never runs out of paths to pursue.

Major improvement is immediately heard in Eric Forrest's vocals. More effects, more "cyber", less aggro-metal yelling. So what if he sounds a lot like Snake in spots? Snake is the true voice of Voivod, and Eric's matured approach proves worthy. The whole of 'Phobos' shifts and churns like a gargantuan spaceship caught in a black-hole vacuum. This intensely hypnotic cosmic journey is given an extra stamp of character thanks to the especially earthy drum sound (a 180-degree shift from the terrible drum sound on 'Negatron'). As usual, Piggy stamps his character all over the place, and even manages to invent yet more brand-new guitar chords. His less-is-more approach to soloing is frustrating though; the vastness of the material could do with some Gilmour- esque melodic atmospheres. It's no big deal, as the churning rhythms and oddball riffs keep the attention front and center. Opening and closing with their trademark lift-off soundscapes ("Catalepsy I" and "II"), the album's songs are solid, but many maintain a similar vibe throughout. This may be seen as a lack of depth or an intensely focused approach. Highlights do exist, with "The Tower" and "Quantum" qualifying as Voivod classics. "The Tower" is preceded by an almost 'Angel Rat'-ish segue, the gloomy "Temps Mort", which features accordion (!) by drummer Away. A few interesting bits of trivia: Men Without Hats leader Ivan Doroschuk co-writes the lyrics of "The Tower" with Away; Karyn Crisis, from progressive hardcore band Crisis, gets co- writing credit on "Forlorn"; and in a bit of foreshadowing, Jason Newsted (then in Metallica, now in Voivod) contributes his "M-Body".

I've given this album a 3-star rating partly because of the interchangeable nature of some of the songs. But the rating is mostly due to the bad judgment of tacking on two songs that clearly weren't meant to comprise the body of 'Phobos' (they appear after outro soundscape "Catalepsy II", even written in a different font). They would've been better saved for an EP, or for 1998's 'Kronik' pieces-and-parts set. "M-Body" is quirky and different, but seems a little outside of the Voivod scope, just as 'Negatron''s "D.N.A. (Don't No Anything)" does. And though the appropriate cover choice of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" is capably performed, it feels like a leftover. Lastly, you certainly can't judge a book by the cover, as the artwork is a lame choice for an album cover. It certainly doesn't serve to represent this fine piece of work.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The second album featuring Eric Forrest on bas and vocals, and maybe the most uninspired work from Voivod.

"Phobos" picks up where "Negatron" left with metallic assault and no prog leanings. But were "Negatron" was a good yet not essential album "Phobos" is too much of an auto-pilote offering. It´s just uninspired and frankly a bit boring.

"Phobos" is only for completists.

Prog heads who pick up this album because they liked "The Outer Limits" or "Angel Rat" won´t even recognize that it´s the same band. There is nothing here for the prog heads and only a little of interest to metal heads (I´ve known lots and am one myself, and I have never heard anyone talk nicely about this album).

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars One big song?

My first encounter with the band, Phobos is a very strange album in a lot of ways. It is very much progressive in a lot of senses. It uses long compositions with strange timings and most of the album is a seeming concept of monstrous proportions. Not to mention they cover a prog classic right at the end of the disc.

Unfortunately, all of the promising points on this album are ultimately let down by a couple of things. The repetition of theme and (sometimes well used) spacey sound effects makes for an album that sounds almost like one incredibly long and drawn out song. The screaming vocals are also not likely to be everyone's cup of tea, especially people more into classic prog.

This is not to say that the album has no redeeming features. Indeed, the previously mentioned spacey effects sometimes give off a very Hawkwind feel as though the band is trying to make an extreme prog crossover into Space rock. There are also a couple of very good tracks on the album, the title track (PHOBOS) being one of them. It's quick and chunky riffs soar through the drums and well brought off vocals (even for people who might need some getting used to the extreme vocal style) to make this track very much worth listening to. The opener RISE is also a standout, this one being one of the few tracks that doesn't get eaten by the Wall of Sound effect that kicks in right about the time the third track ends.

Seemingly divided into two pieces just by the use of text on the back cover, the tracks between the bookending CATALEPSY tracks all seem to fall into one big epic, with the other two tracks beyond it being their own entity. As a whole the seeming epic doesn't really work that well, unfortunately. The wall of sound soon takes over and it's not long until you're simply trying to make sense out of a barrage of heavy metal. However, its very fortunate that they tacked those last two tracks on the end. Sounding nothing like anything else on the album M-BODY is a welcome and quirky abrupt stop to the same-ity that is the rest of the album. A welcome standout as is the cover of King Crimson's 21ST CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN. Though the cover would never be able to compare to the original version, the band succeeds well in adding their own spin on the track and giving it an even darker and even more evil feel (would that have been deemed possible before this record?). Beware, though, the jazzy insanity of Giles, Fripp and co is very much absent as Voivod replaces just about everything with heavy metal guitars to play the parts. Good if you like that kind of thing.

Perhaps not the best way to start with the band I'll still buy Nothingface if I ever happen to find it in stores (although I never seem to be able to and I freaking live in Canada - where they're from!) as the good points on the album definitely show potential. But in general - this is a pretty weak disc with a couple good songs that gets 2 stars ultimately. Enjoyable by fans and metal heads... but best avoided by the average progger.

PS - Is it just me or was the cover a twisted recreation of King Crimson's In The Court Of The Crimson King?

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If previous Voivod albums never hinted at Canada being a warm and inviting place, Phobos sounds as if nuclear winter has come to that doomed stretch of land.

Phobos continues the aggressive metal path Voivod had chosen on Negatron, and I always thought it was as bad as that preceding album. But when I picked it up two months ago for reviewing and listened to it for the first time in 10 years, I was totally blown away. How could I have entirely missed the point? Another 20 listens later and I can safely say I'm deeply in love with it. A strange evolution, but on the other hand, this is a Voivod album that devides Voivod fans so it's maybe not too surprising being devided over it myself.

Voivod joins Neurosis here in creating a dense and difficult type of metal that was years ahead of its time. More then a decade after its release the visionary sound and influence of this album is so evident. To give one example, the extreme metal band Intronaut, a recent favourite of mine, must have played this album to bits. At the risk of being bashed from all Voivod forums and discussion groups for ever and after, I must admit this album works a lot better for me then the critically acclaimed Nothingface. It's much more organic, aggressive, dissonant, harsh and spacey.

Why this album is so good:

A number of vintage Voivod elements that had been absent for years, have been properly restored, mostly the more progressive Voivod features: their unusual time signatures, the highly dissonant riffing and the cosmic delay and reverb effects on the guitar. Also their drive and rage are back. Much more then on Negatron, which was an uninspired return to their thrash roots, Voivod manage to convey an inspired intensity here and launch their more aggressive side successfully into space. Because of all this, this album could have been a logical continuation of Dimension Hatross.

And the voyage continues, the album adds a lot of new elements as well, such as the high level of 'industrialization'. The sound is cold, harsh and unmelodic, the vocals are screamed and distorted and the rhythms are mechanical and hypnotizing. Voivod must have had their ears open to bands like Neurosis and probably even Nine Inch Nails. There are also occasional sidesteps in psychedelic realms. Members of Voivod have often claimed to be big kraut rock enthusiast. Well, this album would be the first though to let in some of those influences, especially in the more natural and hypnotizing flow of the songs. The title track is a good example.

The album is far from perfect though and there are sure reasons why it can be and off-putting experience. Many songs suffer from Eric Forrest gruff vocals. He has grown a lot since Negatron and avoids his earlier death metal clichés in favour of a more Snake-like delivery. But still, his tone can be grating, especially when he tries to be more melodic. Another problem might me the raw drum sound, it works perfectly on the repetitive grooves of most songs, but when faster drumming is required, as on the 21st Century Man cover, the drums sound too much like tin cans and break the tension on this not very inspired cover.

Yes, I'll go as far as committing pure sacrilege and rate this higher then Nothingface. I prefer its organic power and spacey sound. It's not as good as Dimension Hatross or the more melodic Outer Limits but it comes close. Well, I may get back to you in five years and tell you otherwise. I indulge an evolving taste as much as I like evolving music.

Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Phobos' - Voivod (3/10)

Easily one of the greatest metal bands to have come out of Canada, thrashers Voivod have always made me proud. However, as virtually every band that has been around for so long can tell you, it's nearly impossible to keep the same level of quality throughout a career. Gracing the 80's and early 90's with such epic works as 'Nothingface' and 'The Outer Limits', the latter half of Voivod's work would see a turn for the worse. The result of some line-up changes, the band's album 'Phobos' represents a real disappointment in their catalogue. It appears that even the best bands will have lapses in judgement at times, and Voivod is no exception to this.

'Phobos' is a stark contrast to the groovy and upbeat thrash I was first introduced to the band through, and instead goes tends to go down the route of alternative metal. The change of line-up in the musicians is most noticeable with the vocals here, which deviate from Snake's charming Francophone inflections to something more akin to grungy screaming; all to mixed result. Having said before that this may very well be Voivod's most uninspired release, it brings to mind another album by a well-known metal band, Metallica's 'St. Anger'. In an apparent attempt to strip their sound down to a lo-fi bout of anger, the band looses alot of their charm, although the uninspired songwriting and muddy production here is made all the more bearable by a couple of really great moments.

The lesser of the two songs that spark my interest is the album's opener 'Catalepsy I', which features an eerie riff, courtesy of Denis. However, it is generally short-lived and doesn't take long before succumbing to the first of a great many songs here that do little for the imagination. However, 'Phobos's real strength lies in its title track; which- quite contrary to the rest of the album- is actually incredible. An eerie buildup leads to a highly spacey and dark riff, simple in construct but carrying plenty of presence through its ingenious use of delay effects. The anger brought about by the vocals is mixed with the eerie approach of Denis and his guitar work, creating a piece of music that instantly transports me to the Martian lunar landscape, and gives me a really unsettling feeling that I only wish the band had recreated on any other song here.

Of additional interest here may also be the closing track, '21st Century Schizoid Man'. Originally written and performed by prog rock giants King Crimson, it's unfortunate that Voivod does not bring their own magic to this classic track, but instead butchers it through a brutal production value and noisy delivery. Not to mention the lack of saxophone that gave the original such charm, but it may be of slight interest to a fan of either band.

'Phobos' really shows Voivod working with only a shred of their charm and magic. While this band has never stayed in one place for too long, it does feel as if the best aspects of Voivod's delivery are void here. Besides Denis' atypical guitar work (which is always of interest) and one fantastic track, there is little of interest to speak of here.

Review by FragileKings
3 stars Voivod was one of those bands I snatched up on cassette in the mid-80's when thrash/power/speed metal was flooding the metal landscape. Though I bought a lot of stuff back then, very few of those bands impressed me enough in later years to be worthy of keeping in my collection on CD. Voivod's debut, War and Pain had a few tracks that I loved, and their third and fifth albums - Killing Technology and their seminal album Nothingface - managed to survive the decades of my changing musical tastes. Then early this year (2012) I took up interest in the band again and soon had my collection of their studio albums complete.

This is one of those bold move albums that either draws people closer or repulses them from the band. Or should I say revolts them? For my tastes however, this album is quite attractive in sound.

The reasons often cited for disliking this album: new vocalist Eric Forrest is nowhere nearly as interesting and unique as founding vocalist Denis Belanger; Jean-Yves Theriault isn't playing bass on this; the guitars are just a wall of sound.

It's usually disappointing when certain band members we have come to love leave the band and the new members can't replace what was lost. But given the direction that Voivod was heading through the period of Angel Rat and Outer Limits, I think it was a daring and bold move to take the new band in the direction of Negatron and Phobos. On the other hand, the band had been moving away from their speed metal roots and these two more recent albums remind us that this is where the band came from. If the last album you heard was Killing Technology and then picked up Phobos ten years later, you would likely not be surprised by the sound nearly as much as by the line-up change.

I actually find this album really interesting to listen to, though I usually prefer to listen to a few individual songs like Phobos, Bacteria, Neutrino, and Forlorn than the whole album straight through. The album is bookended by two sound effect instrumentals Catalepsy and Catalepsy II, which are on their own not much but being there they give the album a sense of conceptualization, a sense that is enforced with the bizarre and sometimes creepy sound effects that link the songs. You will also note that most tracks have a one-word title, further creating the idea of a theme.

There is little variety in the music. Almost every song is like being whacked by a giant tennis racket of distorted guitar, and given Denis D'Amour's penchant for weird and dissonant chords, that sensation of being clobbered is only stronger. The pace of the songs usually varies between doomy space extreme metal and a careening battleship of rapid-paced space speed metal. The songs do find time to fit in some interludes from the mayhem of sound with creepy undistorted guitar with spooky cosmic effects or abrupt tempo changes at times. The vocals are powerful screams from a terribly scratched throat - very much suiting the music - but sometimes they are distorted too and the lyrics are difficult to distinguish. That's a weak point for me. The music overwhelms the vocals.

Two tracks that stand out for me because of the mood they establish are the instrumental Temps Mort and Neutrino. Temps Mort is a solemn and grim piece that reminds me a bit of something from Nine Inch Nail's The Downward Spiral but with accordion played by drummer Michel Langevin. It has a strong post apocalyptic atmosphere but with a folksy European touch. It's a welcome interlude from the sonic assault that composes most of this album. Neutrino has such a sparse but hideously creepy intro. The image that comes to my mind is of some enormous space creature hammering on the hull of a doomed spacecraft while the crew inside are frozen with fear. It gives me the shivers each time I hear it, a great example of how even heavy metal can create images with music.

I was surprised to discover Voivod on this site at first because I believed at first that progressive rock was more like Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant and the likes. While this album is not Voivod's most progressive work, I think they have - as they usually seem to do - embraced a style of music and put their own unique stamp on it. I have not heard an album that sounds similar to this and usually when Voivod do anything, they do it with their own special twist. I do believe it has progressive elements, but this is tech/extreme prog metal here so unless that's your bag, you should stay away. If you love the classic Voivod then you should approach this with caution. If you want to hear something that will at first give you the feeling of listening to an extremely harsh hangover but later make you feel like you've just heard an album by a Sith Lord's evil twin's metal band, this might just appeal to you.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "I just picked up Phobos, its just like Negatron!"
"Thanks for the warning."
"What do you mean by that?"

Despite the warning, something made me go ahead and purchase it from the $3 used rack. This was after the abomination that was Negatron, knowing that the line-up had not changed. Well, I'll be honest. The key selling point was the 21st Century Schizoid Man cover. Having heard them cover 2 Pink Floyd tracks that I didnt really care all that much for as originals, I figured the chance of hearing what Piggy could do with a true prog anthem was worth the $3. I was not disappointed.

I cannot put my finger on it. Either it was the overall music structure that made Eric Forrest's vocals more tolerable on Phobos, or perhaps he settled in and chemistry improved. Pound for pound, his vocals are really no different. There appears to be a slightly different approach to recording him than on Negatron. That is, he appears to be mixed thin. Most of the time he sounds like he is singing through a transistor radio. works! Consider communication on any moon in our solar system, such as is Phobos. Likely to be radio communication, right?

Where Negatron was just an amorphis, chunky pile of metal, Phobos actually moves in different directions in an allusory manner. And the ubiquitous sci-fi themes now have symbiosis with the music. The recording lacks clarity for sure, but it is largely made up for by the interesting song structures and ominous textures. And the drums no longer have the clicky bass.

Finally, we arrive at the coup de grace, the cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man . I have heard complaints that Voivod does nothing innovative with the song. Well, sometimes you just play the song, you play it well, and that is enough. And Voivod does, very well. Not a streamlined, watered-down radio edit. They rock it. And if that was ever a time that Eric Forrest's vocals shined, it was on this cover. This is an album that I rather enjoy. I understand that it does not carry the sound quality that would keep many listeners happy, and while I find Eric Forrest's voice to work much better with this album, it would likely still annoy others to no end. Therefore, 3 stars. Good, but if you think it sucks, I understand.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This is the ultimate apocalypse, the dystopian genocide or at least the vision of it. Dark, eerie, mechanically thrilling industrial sounds and weird voices suck the listener into an infinite black hole of despair, into a strange universe - the universe of the Voivod. Disharmonic song structures, de ... (read more)

Report this review (#383280) | Posted by kluseba | Wednesday, January 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I can' t believe that some VoiVod fans does not like this album, that is probably the best. The sound is powerful like no other VoiVod works and more personal than Negatron (another nice record). For me is the best buy till this moment, cause I can't stop to listen to it, sensation provides ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#47519) | Posted by | Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I'm a big Voivod fan, but listening to this album, which was named after a moon of Mars, is one of the most difficult freetime activity. Second album with Eric Forrest and it's heavier than its predecessor, but not as straight (and unimagitive) album as "Negatron". The structures of the songs som ... (read more)

Report this review (#43395) | Posted by riversdancing | Friday, August 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars could it be any worse? listening to Negatron i thought it's just one misuderstanding but this one i'm finding even worse than previous one. it's just wall of sound, wall of chaos nu metal riffs and such annoying noise. i think many interesting moments were lost cos i see no chance for intrumen ... (read more)

Report this review (#33894) | Posted by l-s-d | Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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