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Released: Jan 22, 2013
Genre: Progressive Metal, Thrash Metal
Label: Century Media
Number Of Tracks: 10
This is the first Voivod studio album to feature Daniel Mongrain on guitar (replacing the late Denis "Piggy" D'Amour).
Target EarthFeatured review by: UG Team, on january 21, 2013 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Voivod first busted loose from the Canadian heavy metal underground back in the early 1980s, and soon following began gaining a small worldwide following after select metalheads heard such unique sounding, raging speed metal anthems as "War And Pain" and "Live For Violence". However, throughout the next few decades, Voivod began to passionately embrace such broader influences in the rock spectrum as Rush, Pink Floyd and Saxon, and started implementing progressive and thrash metal stylings into such later outings as the chart hitting "Nothingface" and "Dimension Hatross". Since then, Voivod have remained heavily active, with this 13th full length studio album released since their 1984 debut. For the most part, established fans should easily be able to feel comfortable while listening to the new album, because for the most part Voivod have maintained their traditional style of sound.
Probably one of the strongest examples off of "Target Earth" is the title track. Heavy as hell vocals, triumphantly powerful guitar work, and a thunderous drum beat all help this song closely resemble the bands earlier releases, as compared to those from the "Nothingface" era. The elaborate shreddings that are slathered across the new album are surprisingly great, considering this is the first studio album with new axeman Daniel Mongrain taking on full guitar duties, following the unfortunate death of original guitarist Denis D'Amour (RIP). The entire album is simply roaring with dynamic levels of rage and precision, however each song easily makes a broad statement on its own. Instead of simply relying on the hits, Voivod went back into the studio with a mission to produce an incredible album of new pulsating metal classics, which rock as hard as their earlier tunes continue to do. And the result of this effort is simply great. // 9
Lyrics: Denis Belanger has a truly powerful heavy metal voice. Considering hes been screaming for Voivod since the band first formed in 1982, the fact that he still manages to produce those signature roars that made such albums as "Killing Technology" and "Rrroooaaarrr" so heavily circulated amongst fans. Lyrically, Denis lyrics still prove to be as heavy as ever, although they are admittedly a bit hard to decipher behind those heavy screeches of his.
Denis Belanger has a truly powerful heavy metal voice. Considering hes been screaming for Voivod since the band first formed in 1982, the fact that he still manages to produce those signature roars that made such albums as "Killing Technology" and "Rrroooaaarrr" so heavily circulated amongst fans. Lyrically, Denis lyrics still prove to be as heavy as ever, although they are admittedly a bit hard to decipher behind those heavy screeches of his. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, Voivod give an incredibly solid performance throughout "Target Earth". Between it being the band's first album in 4 years, to the first full-time appearance of Daniel Mongrain manning guitar on an album, to the unfortunate toll that time takes on all aging musicians (let alone screaming heavy metal vocalists), "Target Earth" is better than I ever expected. The entire album is standout, but the tracks that stand out the most would have to be the title track, "Mechanical Mind", and "Defiance", which closes out the album perfectly. Any established fan of Voivod should easily be able to fall in love with this album, as should any metalhead who've been craving a great new album to wake the neighbors with. // 9
Iommianity, on february 04, 2013 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: It's hard to top a visionary like Piggy, let alone attempt his material. Voivod had a sound that was all their own, and in light of his tragic death in 2005, it seemed like the band was done for good. These unfortunate circumstances led to Blacky, Voivod's original bassist and last seen on 1991's "Angel Rat", reestablishing a relationship with his former bandmates. Enter Dan Mongrain, a name well known to fans of metal for his work in Gorguts ("From Wisdom To Hate") and his own death metal band, Quebec's Martyr. A fellow Quebecois and lifelong fan of Voivod, he is the perfect, and perhaps only, guy to take Piggy's reins. Initially joining the band to play some shows as a tribute, he jived with the band and sparked an interest in continuing with new material. No one understands Piggy's vocabulary of sci-fi thrash better, and that's none more evident than in "Target Earth", perhaps Voivod's most anticipated album in 20 years.
The music is more than a little reminiscent of Voivod's glory days, particularly "Dimension Hatross" and "Nothingface". This is evident in songs like the title track and "Kluskap O'Kom", which kick the album off in full force. There's echoes of "Nuclear War" ("War And Pain") in "Target", and "Kluskap" brings back Away's thunderous d-beat, something which may not have been heard since "Nothingface". There's no question: the swirling diminished chords, blower bass and anus tight drumming that Voivod were known for are back. While the album sets things up nicely as a tribute to Piggy, "Enemy For The Empathy" opens with an acoustic intro that reminds me of a Turkish wedding in space, and something completely new for Voivod.
Similarly, "Warchaic" is 100% Voivod in scope and dynamics, but it sounds truly fresh while still being the logical followup to "Nothingface". Dan has done his homework, having released two tablature books for Dimension Haross and "Killing Technology", but he has a different soloing style than Piggy. Whereas the former master mixed cyclic blues shredding with diminished licks, Dan has a more fluid fusion approach that is similar to Marty Friedman on LSD. He chooses his moments to solo very carefully however, choosing to play brutally weird riffs that cascade into ethereal bliss. Blacky's bass sound is as grimy and pounding as ever, and he rounds out the sound while playing some of his most driving lines to date. He is what holds the band together when Piggy/Dan venture into the higher register of the guitar. Away holds things down as tight as he always has, and doesn't skimp on the double bass or punk beats. The production doesn't seem to be suffering from being overtly loud and distorted, something that plagues most modern metal recordings, but I could do without Away's triggered snare drum sound and with a little more focus on his cymbal work. Similarly, the bass could be brought down in the mix and the vocals a lot higher. However, the overall sound fits the concept of the band, i.e mechanical, 'robotic' thrash of a progressive nature. // 8
Lyrics: Snake has always been an anomaly of a singer in the metal world. For one, he sounds like a bratty punk, and his vocal inflections are unlike any other. The thick Quebecois accent leaves for a front man with so much personality and charisma that no matter far how out there he gets, you're listening in anticipation for the next line. He definitely comes from the personality school of singing, with a nasally voice and odd phrasing. Snake is another one of Voivod's calling cards, and his schizophrenic touch fits the sound perfectly.
In the 80s, Voivod focused on a sci-fi concept that was also a parable about the potential dangers of technology, and a future driven by constant nuclear escalation and mankind's gradual mechanization through computers. Target Earth similarly deals with a world constantly on the verge of chaos, corruption and all out destruction. However, what Voivod once sang about as science fiction is now reality. The Killing Technology the band warned us about, is here, now. The more free and connected we become as individuals, as a society we move further away from our liberties, and corporations rule the game. We've become alienated from ourselves, and the people around us, turning to a digital reality. These concepts, as well as the ever looming world financial meltdown are the lyrical fodder for the title track and "Resistance" with lines such as:
"Cannot save, cannot trade
Be afraid, you could die!
Cannot search, cannot trace
File erased, you will die!"
from the title track. It deals with the concept of the world's finances being 0s and 1s in a computer, and the modern day apocalypse that could end our world. Likewise, Resistance echoes the Occupy Wall Street movement and the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor.
"Behind the curtains, watch from above
Inside the towers, laughing out loud
And then the gargoyles, sitting on top
Drinking champagne, making out loud
We may just crush them, like little ants
That's how they look like, thinking out loud"
"Corps Tranger" features Snake singing completely in French, a first for the group, while "Kaleidos" (possibly the song that captures 80s Voivod the most) is about secret government conspiracies.
It would have been nice to have Snake's vocals higher in the mix, as they hide in the background at times due to what can be an overwhelming bass presence. It's a shame, because he's using his complete vocal range on "Target Earth", including his punk sneer, old school metal snarl, as well as the cleaner, more surreal voice he used on his 90s contributions (best of all on "The Outer Limits"). As mentioned before, it would have been nice to have heard Snake's vocals a bit more, as he's in top form on this album. // 8
Overall Impression: Personally, it means a lot to me to have a new Voivod record in 2013. To add to that, it feels even better to have my favourite metal band recapture their magic without it sounding contrived. Piggy was a one of a kind guitarist, and Voivod defined what it meant to be a progressive band post 1970s. They took elements from prog like King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator, metal like Motorhead, Venom and Mercyful, and the hardcore violence of Discharge and early Die Kreuzen and mixed them together in a way that had never been done before. To this day, you don't have bands doing anything with the diminished scale like Piggy did, resorting to wanky riffs and needless time changes to sound interesting. They underestimate the importance of having a real soundtrack to their concept.
It's good to know that Voivod are in great hands with Dan Mongrain leading the way, because he encapsulates the sound of the band and also leaves a future for real progression in the band. While there were some issues with the levels of the bass and vocals, I thought the production was ultimately really good. Snake's singing may not be for everyone, though, but it's important to note that his delivery truly fits the lyrics and concepts, which is difficult to do.
I can't imagine what's to come from the Milky Way, far away, but I know that "Target Earth" is the best Voivod album since "Nothingface", and that Voivod may just finally snatch the success that's eluded them. // 9