Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Voivod - "Fuck Off And Die" from the CD Rrröööaaarrr
Voivod - "The Unknown Knows" from the CD Nothingface

Voivod Rrröööaaarrr album coverVoivod Nothingface CD cover

Sometimes the most salient and illustrative comparison that can be made for a band is one with an earlier version of itself.

Witness Voivod, whose angle of ascent left a vapor trail that moves smoothly from the dissonant anarchy of "Fuck Off and Die" to the polished prog-metal of "The Unknown Knows" in three short years.

"Fuck Off and Die" is savage nihilism distilled to an almost pure noise, a music constructed to assault the ears in the same way its title when screamed out attacks the polite sensibilities.

The entire album's that way, actually. After a fairly consonant debut album influenced by Mötörhead and NWOBHM, the entirety of Rrröööaaarrr was a conscious turn towards atavism, a retreat from the metallic melody and form of War and Pain into spaces more influenced by noise punk bands like Scratch Acid or even No-Wavers Teenage Jesus and the Jerks.

Voivod War and Pain album coverIn places it's an almost impenetrable wall of slashing swords, and as much as I admire "Fuck Off and Die" and the rest of it for its fierce uncompromised posture, for its diehard advocacy of aggressive atonality, even I can understand that the noise of Rrröööaaarrr was probably not sustainable over time.

Not that Voivod had any inclination to remain in place. After Rrröööaaarrr was released in 1986, Killing Technology in 1987 would make as many departures from Rrröööaaarrr as Rrröööaaarrr had made with War and Pain. While the noise of their 1986 record was inchoate and so solid you couldn't see through, KT opened up spaces, so that you might almost term it angular. It's instructive to note that the band most similar to Voivod during its Killing Technology phase was die Kreuzen, a punk band on an interesting trajectory of their own, and whose October File was even spookier than Voivod's effort, while retaining the heaviness AND the angularity.

Dimension Hatröss in 1988 continued the band's cycle of change, as it filled the spaces opened up in Killing Technology with elements lifted not from punk or metal or noise but from prog. "Tribal Convictions" and "Brain Scan" are in places aggressively progressive and avant garde, respectively, while still keeping the core thrash element.

For Nothingface, that core element is for the most part gone, and what remains is a masterful superstructure of progressive metal, nearly absent of the very things that propelled the band only three years previous: no rage, no rawness, no dissonance, not even a fucking umlaut. Even Korgüll, the band's mascot, who is seen gleefully driving his Hatred Skull Death Tank on the cover of Rrröööaaarrr, and who had made appearances on every Voivod album through Hatröss, has been dispensed with. The band--almost as if it had planned it this way--had remade itself, and was celebrating the occasion with an almost intoxicatingly intense batch of prog-metal.

Voivod The Unknown Knows Inner ArtworkI remember when I first heard Nothingface upon its release in 1989, and it was one of the few times in my life I can remember when the music that I was into meshed with the books that I was reading. Without getting more specific timewise, the late '80's were my time for the cyberpunks, as I read novels like Neuromancer and collections like Mirrorshades. And in Nothingface, in its graphic blandishments and in its lyrics, Voivod had put together an album that dovetailed perfectly with the cyberworld I'd been ingesting in prose.

As much as I'd liked Korgüll and the brutal kingdom of thrash noise through which he roamed, I've got to admit, I don't think he would have been capable of such invention.

Voivod - Rrröööaaarrr - 02 - Fuck Off & Die.mp3

128 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (Right click and save as target)

File under: Noise metal

Voivod - Nothingface - 01 The Unknown Knows.mp3

192 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (Right click and save as target)

File under: Cybermetal

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