Sunday, 6 January 2013

VOIVOD - Target Earth

Target Earth fulfils every Voivodian parameter and more. Past masterpieces which still nourish the underground roots of true metal (from technical to progressive, from post to avant-garde) are joined by an album that writes a brilliant, fresh page for the Canadians. Voivod are back to being Voivod, and that is, after a career spanning 30 years full of stratospheric moments, tragedies and inevitable shaky periods: something to celebrate from the bottom of our hearts.

Not even remotely winking at a friendlier sound, Target Earth evolves at every listen; in fact it does not stop growing… The immediate feeling is that of an incredible energy and synergy amongst the legendary band members. Away, Snake and Blacky are back together as one, and the magic is there both on a personal and creative level, and it is mindblowingly intense. Dan Mongrain, with his great guitar skills and contagious positive aura, fits in like a glove: the fans love him to bits, as if it was meant to be. He is not a stand in for Piggy: Dan possesses the Voivod spirit, musically AND spiritually, and that is clear for all to see, not just hear. This means that Piggy, the man whose contribution towards making this band what it is (one of THE most important in the history of metal) was incommensurable, is smiling from whichever dimension he is watching. And Target Earth could not be a better, bigger tribute to the unforgotten guitarist. Because…

…Target Earth is not just a masterpiece but an utterly sincere album, a work full of joy, hope and love. Voivodian as hell, but in an expansive, forward-looking way, which means that the few stumbling blocks that appeared after the release of Nothingface (the album that “almost” made them huge) have been overcome. Patiently, painfully for sure, unfalteringly and with humility, the key of it all, Voivod have worked it all out. All too often old greats keep coming back with meaningless albums pathetically pushed by big labels looking for big sales, headlining sterile tours and festivals magnified by the whores of journalism who want a part of the cake (being seen where “it counts”, percentages of advertisement fees and so on). Well Voivod are just on a different planet. Not because they do not care about selling records or embarking on extensive tours, but because they will only achieve that without selling their souls. Integrity and humility can survive inside the music industry as well as outside the bolted gates of intransigent elitism when sharing an important message and empathy with the fans are the ultimate goals. Target Earth transcends the practicalities of a “big” release because it is a triumph of such philosophy. Punk’s not dead.

Thirty years dedicated to metal to get to the point where your 13th album not only does sound stunning, but incredibly vital, fresh, captivating. Wow, what an achievement… Life’s karmic wheel has been spinning: two consecutive apparitions at Roadburn, another rare, passion-driven microcosm where Voivod fit in like a glove, seem to have put good things in motion, and everything just feels right. Target Earth highlights above all how the collective effort amongst life-long friends/talented and creative artists becomes key in the shaping of a cohesive piece of work. To step into the Voivod mother ship means that individuality becomes an essential, perfectly attuned part of a whole, like the different organs of the body. This album exudes brilliance, but it is never over the top. This album is swollen with individual creativity but it feels like a great ocean. Technical skills are not “on show”, but simply exquisitely integrated within the bigger picture. Dan “Chewy” Mongrain mixes acoustic, exotic touches with unruly, twisted moments that are a joy to the ear, just like the trademark - yet incredibly fresh - jagged outbursts and the proggy treats; Snake’s vocals are in grand form, going from vintage all-out aggression to Jazz Coleman-like dark evocativeness, to mesmerizing softer parts; Blacky’s bass is pounding, wild, the propulsive ass-kicking engine that pulls everything by the hair – just in case the raw punk energy was ever in danger to be taken over by Rush-like virtuosity; and last but not least Away, the long-standing drummer at the heart of Voivod because of his conceptual art, ethos and message… Away is the shaman who gathers each and everyone’s soul by channeling the rhythm of the cosmos within and beyond us. Effortlessly, the shy, lovable man “dances” on his drum kit like an entranced Shiva beaming joyfully. His tribal, syncopated rhythms display a degree of difficulty which is made all the more amazing by an unparalleled natural skill in keeping the groove flowing naturally. So yes, at this point in time, the Voivod entity is blessed with an exceptional combination of rejuvenated synergies which work like a dream.

Target Earth is still growing on me after weeks of enthusiastic listens. I could not mention a favorite track either because in each and every one of them amazing moments come out of nowhere to blow my mind… What more could one ask from their favorite band? Let me tell you, Voivod are truly special for me: since the beginning I have felt towards them a pure, instinctive kind of love and I kept that precious feeling in a safe place for a long, long time. This irrational yet important sentiment is far from uncommon: some bands do have devoted, even crazy, fans but trust me, a Voivod fan is truly from another planet! Hails to all Voivodians around the globe, and possibly beyond!!!

1 comment:

  1. That was an amazing read Alex, you are really an example for me when it comes to reviewing! Thank you!


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