Voivod - The Wake
Century Media
Progressive Thrash Metal
8 songs (55:57)
Release year: 2018
Voivod, Century Media
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Having more than proved their relevance with 2013's stellar Target Earth, everyone's favourite Canadian thrashers are back at it again, albeit this time with something of a step sideways. Never content to rest on their laurels, Voivod have pulled off another stylistic change and dropped a lot of their more aggressive thrash elements to focus more on the progressive and punky side of their sound - not a combination that would work in many hands. Yet Voivod are masters at reinventing themselves, from the new wave/prog rock of 1991's Angel Rat all the way through the nineties industrial experiments of Negatron and Phobos, up to their 2008 rebirth with Chewy (Daniel Mongrain) flawlessly stepping in for the sadly taken too soon Piggy. And with new bassist Rocky (Dominique Laroche, with a blues background) replacing Blacky in 2014, the latest Voivod lineup is as strong as ever, Snake and Away in their classic positions as vocalist and drummer respectively and stepping up their game to match their newer bandmates.

As good as the riffs are, and they're very good, Snake sounds better than he has in a long time, and Away is always underrated for his drumming, both throwing plenty of variety in there and helping drive the music along. Sometimes it needs it, the greater emphasis on textural and atmospheric work from Chewy making The Wake as a whole feel less heavy and dense than Target Earth, but that doesn't mean the guitarwork is at all lacking here; on the contrary. Opener Obsolete Beings rattles along before a late-song false ending leads to a perfect psychedelic outro, that earlier reference to Angel Rat applicable here too, albeit much less new wave and with plenty of punk aggression filling it out. The End of Dormancy slows matters down and really explores this atmospheric feel, the addition of some industrial clanking and whirring around the half point something of a red herring as it goes all-out on the psychedelic rock by the end, with a spoken word section and near-orchestral percussion. In a first for Voivod, they build on that with actual backing strings on Iconspiracy, otherwise one of the thrashiest and hardest tracks on the album thanks to plenty of technical chugging riffs and near-blastbeats, and in that context the sudden orchestral elements work very well indeed.

Elsewhere, there's not a dull track to be found. Orb Confusion builds a complex prog-thrash piece from the ground up, both bass and guitar working overtime on a track that sounds like surf rock as played by a German thrash band, with added 'nananana' vocal indulgence in the chorus reminding you that Voivod once covered the Batman theme. The likes of Spherical Perspective and Event Horizon are more than solid, providing meaty, muscular prog metal driven by riffs and with plenty of room for Snake to show his uniqueness on vocals, some brief throat-singing on the latter harking back to Kluskap O'Kom. The return to atmospheric riffing on Always Moving is matched by a thrashier feel, yet it's twelve-minute epic finale Sonic Mycelium where Voivod truly go all-out, referring back to the various tracks on this album and even to Jack Luminous from 1993's The Outer Limits (and possibly beating it). It's not a perfect album, and won't please those who want Voivod at their most thrash metal, but more than fits in with the band's style and is another strong argument for their status as the most interesting band in their category, whatever that may be. Whether you're a Voivodian or not, these Canadians are still very much worth your time.

Killing Songs :
Obsolete Beings, Orb Confusion, Iconspiracy, Always Moving
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Voivod that we have reviewed:
Voivod - Target Earth reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Voivod - Warriors Of Ice reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Voivod - Negatron reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
Voivod - The Outer Limits reviewed by Goat and quoted 91 / 100
Voivod - Angel Rat reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 14 reviews click here
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