This Goes Way Beyond Expectations: A Thing About Voivod’s New Album, The Wake

It’s been far too long since I’ve written anything here (or anywhere else, for that matter), and life is my only excuse, and I know that’s a mostly shitty excuse, but it’s the only excuse I have.

Hey, speaking of “shitty”, how about the state of the world these days? I know that on some level, things are not as bad as they seem, and that bad news gets more airtime than good news, but I also know that I’m scared and nervous about the state of things more now than I have been since I was just a li’l guy, back in the final decade of the Cold War, and I know that I don’t like that feeling.

However, sometimes good things do still happen. As evidence, I submit The Wake, the 14th studio album by French-Canadian Metal Gods Voivod, released to the undeserving world on September 21 of this year. I’d planned on writing a proper review of the album, but if I’m being honest, I’m having trouble finding words that do it justice, so I’m just gonna kind of think out loud here. Bear with me…

Exhibit A

I know I’ve gushed about Voivod a lot in the past, both on this blog and in person (and I will continue to do so in the future), but I say this without hyperbole: Voivod is one of the greatest bands in the universe (known or unknown), and The Wake is one of the greatest albums in the history of time and space. Every member of the band is in top form here, and it’s obvious that they love and fully believe in what they’re doing.

Exhibit B (L-R): Away (drums), Rocky (bass), Chewy (guitars), Snake (vocals)
Photo by Wayne Archibald. Please don’t sue me, Mr. Archibald

If, gods forbid, The Wake ended up being Voivod’s last album ( and I have seen no indication that anyone in the band has even entertained the thought), it would be the most perfect way imaginable for a band to close out their story. Throughout the album’s 56 minute running time, the band touches on every era from their past, without ever sounding forced, recycled, contrived, or stale. (The chaotic nuclear thrash metal explosions that are their first two albums, 1984’s War and Pain, and 1986’s Rrröööaaarrr, are certainly least represented, although the early thrash assault does get a brief nod here and there.)

Elements of the Holy Trinity of Killing Technology (1987), Dimension Hatröss (1988), and Nothingface (1989) all pop in to say hello repeatedly throughout the album. The first track, “Obsolete Beings”, especially reminds me of Nothingface. Something about the guitar tone, maybe? I’m not a musician, and I certainly don’t know shit about music theory, so I can’t say what it is exactly, I just know it fucking rules. There’s even a brief vocal bit on “Event Horizon” that would not sound out of place on the Eric Forrest-fronted album Phobos (1997). The heaviest and most consistent vibe I pick up from the band’s storied past is that of 1993’s genius The Outer Limits (Snake even reuses a line from that album’s brilliant “Jack Luminous” on this album’s mind-blowing closer “Sonic Mycelium”).

And speaking of “Sonic Mycelium”…

With a band like Voivod (which is to say, Voivod), it’s easy to find examples of “this is unlike anything I’ve ever heard”, but even in the context of this 100% one-of-a-kind band, “Sonic Mycelium” is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. For lack of a better term, the song is a medley, but not a regular medley, because that wouldn’t be Voivod enough. Rather, it’s a medley constructed with sounds from the seven songs that precede it, and it revisits the album in such an inventive, unique, and compelling way that I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

It opens with the music from the coda of “Obsolete Beings”, over which Snake sings the opening lyrics of “Spherical Perspective” (but to the tune of the lyrics he originally sang over the coda of “Obsolete Beings”), and from there, it just goes, branching out and sprouting up like its biological namesake, and more than anything else this band has ever created, no words from any person can do this song justice or properly explain it, so my best advice is to finish reading this, obtain a copy of the album, and let it take over your life, too. You can thank me later.

(Note: I do not recommend obtaining your copy from MerchNOW – it’s a terrible company, and you’ll end up receiving your copy sometime after all the events foretold in the lyrics come true and our doomed planet starts over from the beginning. #merchneveragain)

The album is maybe best described as “cinematic”, and I, for one, definitely feel as though I’m watching a movie when I listen to it. Did I mention that it’s a concept album? I know that I did not mention that, I was just being dramatic, but it is, and holy shit, what a concept!

Seriously though, I’ve gone on long enough. Stop reading my dumb words, get yourself a copy of The Wake, put on some headphones, read those lyrics, and get lost, till your bones turn to dust.

Thanks for reading, and please continue to stay heavy.

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