No Outer Limits for Metal Legends
Founding member of the Canadian space-thrash band, Voivod, Denis “Piggy” D’Amour (1959-2005) was a guitar pioneer, an innovator, and one of the most influential musicians of his generation. Dan “Chewy” Mongrain was an awed 12-year-old when he first heard Piggy’s licks, and he knew what he wanted to do with his life. Fast-forward about twenty years later, where we find Mongrain aptly replicating Piggy’s parts at live shows, on his way to becoming a permanent addition. His membership in Voivod is solidified on their thirteenth studio album, Target Earth. The big questions: will Chewy bring his own style or will he try to mimic Piggy’s distinctive sound? And most important, will it work?
These questions are answered in the title track that opens Target Earth. The first sounds we hear are guitar-generated effects, the same as about 90% of Voivod’s albums, followed by the refreshing sounds of returning member, bassist Jean-Yves “Blacky” Theriault, abusing the strings. When Chewy’s part, or parts, begin in earnest, we witness the future of Voivod: dissonant, untranslatable yet apropos chords (Piggy’s influence, his trademark) and an erudite thrash smoothness and cleanliness (Chewy’s own talent). When singer Denis “Snake” Belanger and drummer Michel “Away” Langevin join the fray, it’s business as usual: beefy, heavy, complex songs with unexpected changes and catchy hooks, just like Voivod has been producing for thirty years.
Snake’s voice has roughened with age, but it never sounds strained even as he reaches for higher notes in songs like “Mechanical Mind” and “Artefact.” Away continues to provide thunderous and complicated beats, holding everything together as time signatures change. While there are remnants of older material in this songs, including nods to their best works (Dimension Hatross and Nothingface in the late ’80s), none of these songs sound dated. Target Earth is a collection of ten tracks designed to prove that one of metal’s best and most original acts still has more tricks up its sleeve. The album closes with the 92-second “Defiance,” a strong tune that fades out just as it begins to speed up, as if to say: To Be Continued.