Company: Century Media Release: 2016 Genre: Progressive, Thrash Reviewer: Vinaya
Moments of excellence
The mad riff scientists known as Voivod pulled off an almost impossibly solid comeback effort with their last full-length album, 2013's Target Earth. The band's first release since the death of founding guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour, it found new recruit Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain (formerly of the progressive/technical death metal band Martyr) doing a stunningly effective job of approximating Piggy's distinctive riff composition style while adding his own unique touch when solo time came.
Now comes Post Society, a curious five-song EP of post-Target Earth odds and ends. It includes two newly recorded original songs, two previously available only on split singles (with At The Gates and Napalm Death), and to close it all off, a cover of the Hawkwind classic "Silver Machine." The latter, of course, is particularly and tragically timely, given the recent passing of Hawkwind/Motorhead legend Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, and fittingly includes a solid bass solo by new recruit Dominique "Rocky" Laroche.
As for the new originals, the title track kicks things off in quintessential Voivod fashion, with an almost Motorhead-like bass intro from Rocky being joined quickly by Mongrain riffing that would have fit well on any of the band's late '80's masterworks. The song, like much of the Target Earth album, manages to combine the distinctive elements of all three of the band's most lauded releases: the frenzied aggression of 1987's Killing Technology and the complex and twisted riffing of 1988's Dimension Hatross, wrapped in a mix that is clearer and cleaner than either of those albums, much like the less metallic Nothingface from '89.
As the next two cuts come, things get increasingly moody and, I dare say, somber in tone, especially on the somewhat depressing "Fall." (Sample lyrics: "My self is not a peaceful place/ My self is not a graceful state." And then things get weird as the end of the song approaches!) As has often been the case with Voivod, Post Society is a somewhat challenging listen, but sometimes for different reasons than in the past. The tricky, dissonant riffing is still there, but this EP (particularly "Fall" and portions of "Forever Mountain") also has a somewhat depressing tone to it that, in my opinion, much of the band's previous material didn't quite have.
Sure, the band's lyrics often dealt with rather bleak subject matter (oppression, political conflict, mankind's self-inflicted woes in general), but those musings generally took place in the context of music complex (and often chaotic) enough to obscure the message somewhat. Moments like the subdued but moody minor key opening section of the aforementioned "Fall," on the other hand, give Snake's vocals plenty of sonic space in which to set the mood in a way that the frantic clatter of, say, the Killing Technology album, did not.
"We Are Connected," interestingly, falls somewhere between the moodiness of "Fall" and the classic Voivodian braniac headbanging qualities of the title track. It starts off fast and straightforward, but with hints of the aforementioned melancholy melodicism- and takes on a somewhat trippy, almost psychedelic vibe as Mongrain's superbly executed solo is about to kick in. As for "Silver Machine," Voivod's rendition falls somewhere between a truly faithful recreation and a total re-imagination of the song. Basic elements of the song are played at least somewhat like the original version, but overall the recording and execution are (unsurprisingly) cleaner and more sober-sounding. Placing a somewhat Lemmy-like distorted bass solo in place of the original guitar solo is definitely a cool touch- a way to pay stylistic homage to a man who helped create a new way to play bass in a rock band and simultaneously show fans a bit of what Rocky can do.
Being a five-song EP, there was no way that Post Society was going to make as big an impression on listeners as the bolt from the blue that was Target Earth. The quality of the material is just slightly below that album overall, but with moments of excellence that suggest the band could be getting ready to deliver another killer full-length, the aforementioned experiments in mood perhaps pointing to a new direction that the band may pursue further. I'm not sure that I could stomach a full-length album in that vein, but it definitely works as a new element to add to the band's sound. Besides, since when do Voivod worry about making their music easily digestible?
About this Writer: Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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