Sunday, 27 January 2013

Voivod - Target Earth Review

Voivod - Target Earth [Progressive Thrash Metal]

Thrash metal and progressive metal together? The genre name is misleading, because the resulting sound is nothing like its parent genres. Rather its more like classic prog with extreme jazz fills peppered in between. So even though I put it as progressive thrash, I would like you to remain non-judgmental towards the name. The cover art depicts an alien and the sound sure as hell is alien. A heads up before I progress (heh), I have heard nothing from this band except for its apparent influence on modern thrash metal band Vektor, which in my opinion earns the title "progressive thrash metal", but let's not bother with genres and classifications anymore since all of these only exist in subjective conjugations.

One thing that strikes me about this album is that its not exactly 'heavy'. Not even close. Like mentioned earlier, it sounds more like classic prog with extreme jazz. Having said that, Jean-Yves “Blacky” Theriault's bass is an enormous, distinguishable presence on the album. It's interesting because while his skill isn't overwhelming, he provides a huge counter-balance to new guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain jazz sweeps. The drums are serviceable, not outstanding but decent. I am not sure what to make of Snake's vocals; they are not raspy and heavy or whatever, but there is no denying that his relatively friendly vocals make what would be a technical and complex album a lot more accessible. Time would tell whether I can stand the vocals, but for now songcraft and instrumentation takes centerstage.

Unique is a severe understatement for what you will hear on Target Earth. 'Kluskap Okom' opens with appears to be snorting and panting that lay down the rhythm for the album's first uptempo song. The riffs are not heavy, but rather intricate or even angular, so the songs maintain an air of progressive creativity and never sound metal at all. Having said that, there is a hell lot of progressive experimentation (opening the album with a nice bassline and immediately adding the vocals and guitar over it, rather than use the bassline to lead into the actual song like most metalcre / deathcore artistes do), and songs tend to have no coherent structure but flow by sections, and this is the main complexity of the album, and in that, the band excels. One song that comes to mind is the epic 'Mechanical Mind', which has four seperate parts that are of completely different moods and tempos but sound like one, organic, living song.

My frustration with the album is, however, the production. Because of the lack of a second guitarist, it sounds dry. And that is a pity because the songs are good but sound tired, especially since the band is trying to achieve a psychedelic sound, and that contrasts with the thrash moments. At this juncture I would bring in the band Vektor again, because Vektor has the sound Voivod would have been striving for, production-wise. The bass could have been given more treble so that it sounds like a second guitar, and not stand out because of the absence of a second guitar. Nevertheless, this band has my curiosity and I will definitely look at their back catalog.

★★★ Average - Half of alum is listenable

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