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Voivod - Nothingface CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.24 | 367 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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!

FloydWright | 1/5 |


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