Voivod – Target Earth

voivodIf you are a fan of Voivod, then you have undoubtedly already purchased Target Earth regardless of all the maniacal praise the album seems to be earning. Let’s face it, this is the album Voivod needed to make to ensure all of us would stick around. How does one replace the soul of your sound and main songwriter? A dubious task for sure, but Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain (pick pocketed from the tech/thrash band Martyr) fit so well in the live arena with his nearly dead nuts handling of those inverted sci-fi Piggy chords, that how could Voivod not give him a try? And Blacky returns with blower bass in tow? Right? Damn the naysayers… to the death! Target Earth was what I was hoping it would be as far as overall care for the bands legacy and is easily their best since Phobos, but this doesn’t mean that I’m completely happy with this release from beginning to end.

Let us start with the positives. The tracks Mechanical Mind, Warchaic, and Artefact are all truly great, flowing and completely weird songs that could easily have existed on a classic Voivod line-up created album found between Dimension Hatross (my fave) and Nothingface (your fave). The tracks buzz with a rekindled fire and Dan’s absorption into the Voivodian mainframe feels natural and somehow seamless here. They contort with odd song structures, though the riffs pulse with that full chorded, machine on the fritz apocalyptic affinity while never losing site of that memorable slant that uploads the hooks to your hypercube. Onto the less positive aspect of this album. I will admit, all the songs are at least “good”, some being better than others. Where the band chooses to hang onto the more rocking side of their career (ie: S/T album through Infini), is where an uncomfortably simplistic element creeps into Target Earth. This side of the band has always bugged me since they have tinkered with it since Angel Rat, but since it was Voivod and my mind has opened considerably since growing older, I learned to accept it and move on. At times, the songs feel almost too “clicky” or out of synch. Instead of letting riffs work themselves out and flow together on a natural path, it sounds like Dan is at times wedging it in… or trying to sound more “Voivod” if you will. He can take a simple guitar line that works, but then a bizarre chord will ratchet in and sound like an afterthought. I like to think I can sympathize with this mentality…. he’s over thinking it in order to appeal to the fans and the other guys in the band. This is the difference between Piggy, a natural when it comes to the sound he created… he felt and lived every note, and Dan who is emulating a style and trying to program his amazing talent into the preconceived navigation system of the ship he’s been given to steer. Again… I understand and know that he’s going to calm down in this role and get there. Target Earth is full of evidence that he’s going to get it, but it may not be fully realized until the next couple of releases.

My last beef with this album is the production. Even though the band has indeed achieved a live feel, the guitar sound is too rounded off. The classic sound is here somewhere, but there’s not enough treble or bite in the guitars. Blacky’s bass was the biggest downer. He’s joyously distorted, but that grating rattle that lurked at the core of his tone is missing on this album in favor of a more processed, or even modern/out of a box tone. When all the elements come together, a live sound is achieved, but Snake’s vocals sometimes don’t feel like they are a part of the music due to odd reverb selections.

Having said all of that in closing, I was holding my breath for this one as Voivod has definitely been an important part of my musical development, enjoyment, and growing up with this style of music. It means a lot, and even though I’m not 100% blown away by Target Earth, I’m breathing a sigh of relief that Voivod has pulled themselves together after the passing of a childhood friend and inspiration, and are carrying on a much better path than they have been on. I’m just looking forward to when everything finally gels and all the songs rise to a superior level of quality we all know this band can create. -Marty
Century Media Records

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~ by martyworm on January 30, 2013.

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