Review Summary: The album that is widely hailed as the blueprint for all modern progressive metal; a true novelty of its time.4 of 5 thought this review was well written
I am a HUGE fan of progressive metal music: Opeth
, Between the Buried and Me
; all bands that share a sound that isn't shared with any other genre. Such bands are a true delight to discover, as I am not at all a fan of sameness. However, one can't help but notice certain common denominators among these and many other bands. Certain (often chaotic) drum patterns, discordant riffs, heavy emphasis on melody; all can be traced back to one album: Voivod's 1989 release, Nothingface.
Given the tremendous influence of this album on the musical world, I was quite surprised to find no review of it on this site, and am honored to give the first. (Hopefully, of many.) Each musician on this album, along with their own pseudonym, has a noticeable part on this album, each significant. "Snake," with his half-talked and rather spacey-sounding vocals, highly appropriate for the album's lyrical theme and overall atmosphere; "Piggy," with his legendary jazz-fusion metal riffing, "Blacky," with his AUDIBLE, funktastic bass lines, and "Away," in my opinion the driving force of the album, running all over his drum kit, keeping time quite splendidly in the process.
The overall impression of the album is a rather out-there one, some of the riffs even conjuring mental images of heavenly bodies or vaguely defined spacecraft. Now, this record opens with an intro track; I don't like intros. I think they just delay the real music; thankfully, on later issues of Nothingface, the intro is a separate track that you can skip over to get to "The Unknown Knows."
"The Unknown Knows," track one on the original press of the album, and two (following the intro) on later ones, is my absolute favorite song on the album, and one of my favorites of all time. It's one of the only songs I listen to for the lyrics, but that's hardly the main attraction; Piggy's now-trademark jazzed-up riffs are paired with spacey power chords, and complimented extraordinarily by Away's old-school thrash and prog rock drum style; influences of which appear invariably in modern progressive music.
Another few of the record's strongest tracks are "Missing Sequences," and "Into My Hypercube." The former, at nearly six minutes, being chock full of perfectly placed and timed prog riffs, and the latter being, in a departure for the band, a bit more about Snake's singing, having a few brief emotional moments. One of the greatest moments on the whole album occurs towards the end of this track, with the drums and singing gradually speeding up with each other, catching you quite by surprise on first listen, and becoming something to look forward to on all subsequent times.
As far as I'm concerned, there are no disappointments on this record except one; I didn't really enjoy their cover of Pink Floyd's
"Astronomy Domine," which is one of the most celebrated tracks. I've never really gotten into any of Pink Floyd's songs besides "The Great Gig in the Sky," and I guess I just prefer Voivod doing Voivod songs.
This album left an amazing impression on me, and the band has my thanks for being a great influence on many other great bands today that I enjoy very much. My second review, my second 4.5.
Pros: Highly original (especially for its time period), and chaotically atmospheric.
Cons: Beyond a slightly lackluster cover, none I can think of.
The Unknown Knows
Into My Hypercube