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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More Loose Ends and Random Bits

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while now, and I wish I could say for certain that I’m back at it on a regular basis, but unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to do it up properly, so for now, I’ll continue sporadically updating on what I’ve been up to since my last update.

The main thing I’ve been up to that pertains to metal is that I am now also writing for Global Thrash Assault, an awesome website run by fellow thrash fanatic Chad.  I’ve written two reviews so far, both for albums by bands I’d never even heard of until Chad sent me the assignments, and I’ve really enjoyed both of them.  Greek thrashers Biotoxic Warfare lay down some dark and angry blackened thrash on their full-length debut Lobotomized, and Italian “Moshing Maniax” Blindeath combine dirty NWOBHM-style proto-thrash with balls out mid-to-late 80’s pure thrash metal and deliver an adrenaline-fueled kick to the crotch called Into the Slaughter that you’ll return to again and again.  Both albums are highly recommended.

One odd/interesting thing I’ve noticed during my relative blogging silence is that my post entitled “The Ten Best Thrash Metal Ballads of All Time” has been viewed at least once every single day since I first posted it back in mid-September, lending considerable evidence to my assertion that lists are the only thing most people read on the internet these days.  I noticed a couple of days ago that it was the second link listed if you search “thrash metal ballads” on the Google, which was very exciting, and I just now searched it on Google again to make sure it was still number two, and it is, in fact, number one now, which is obviously even more exciting.  So thanks, whoever keeps looking at my nearly five month old post!

Also, at least once a week, someone finds my blog by searching the internet for some variation of “bill kelliher haircut” or “brent hinds tattoo”, which I find endlessly amusing, and I can only assume that most of those people have not become regular readers of Stay Heavy.

I’ve got a ton of topics cookin in my brain, and eventually you’ll see the continuation of the Voivod saga, another Old-Ass VHS Review or two, some more reviews, some more mixtapes (which I will clearly refer to as “The Best (Whatever) of All Time” now, so that people will actually look at them), some more Metal in the Mainstream adventures, and a whole lot more.

That’s all I got for now.  Here’s some live Exodus with metal madman Paul Baloff on vocals, because today is the thirteenth anniversary of his death from a stroke at the age of 41.  The song begins at around 2:30.

“…and it ain’t about no trout!  This song is called…”

RIP, you crazy fucker.

Stay heavy.  It’s what Paul Baloff would’ve wanted.

A Sort of Review of Coffinworm’s IV.I.VIII

Coffinworm – IV.I.II

Produced, recorded, and mixed by Sanford Parker.

Mastered by Collin Jordan.

Release Date: March 18, 2014, Profound Lore Records

Genre-defying noisy metallic Indianapolis, Indiana juggernaut Coffinworm have made what will surely be a contender for Heavy Album of the Year (I can’t even imagine a scenario where it wouldn’t finish in the top three).  I’ve been aware of Coffinworm for a couple of years now, but I never bothered to check them out until recently, which I now realize was a stupid, stupid thing to do.  The fact that frontman Dave Britts is a former member of genre-defying noisy metallic Bloomington, Indiana-by-way-of-Indianapolis, Indiana juggernaut Racebannon should have been enough to make me listen, but I am sometimes dumb about checking out new bands.  What’s important is that I picked up a copy of their latest album a few days ago, and holy motherfucking shit, friends, that sumbitch is good.

IV.I.VIII combines the dense, multi-layered, off-kilter riffs of label mates Portal with the bombast and aggression of Today is the Day and drags them through the swamp where members of Eyehategod are hanging around getting high, then forces it through a doomy Midwestern sieve.  This album sounds like being pursued through the woods on a foggy half-moon night just after a thunderstorm rolled through and brought a massive cold front.  Or maybe that’s just me.  There are times when the album feels downright oppressive and starts to become almost suffocating, but in a good way (which doesn’t seem to make sense, but it really does, when you hear it).

The soundtrack to mankind’s undoing is IV.I.VIII.  All hope is lost.  Let the chaos take you away.

Here’s a sample:

“Instant Death Syndrome” from IV.I.VIII

In conclusion, if you enjoy blistering noise jammed into in your festering riffs and bloodcurdling screams, and you enjoy being terrified by the sounds coming out of your speakers, you should not hesitate to purchase IV.I.VIII, preferably from your local music shop, and listen to it as loud as possible.

"I heartily endorse this event or product."

“I heartily endorse this event or product.”

If you follow my advice and pick up this album, it will not be at all difficult for you to stay heavy.

http://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/iv-i-viii

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Epilogue: Songs from the bands I referenced above, in case you haven’t heard them.

“Curtain” by Portal, from Vexovoid (2013) – This video is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.  I could watch it all day.

“Death Curse” by Today is the Day, from Pain is a Warning (2011) – Motherfucking bombast!

“My Name Is God (I Hate You)” by Eyehategod, from Dopesick (1996) – This song wants to hurt you.