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Voivod - Phobos CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.05 | 77 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

slipperman | 3/5 |


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