Review Summary: Despite a few weak moments, Infini is a great final representation of the band and their quirky take on progressive metal.
Writing this review could have been like getting in a fight with a girl – you could beat her up and be the asshole or let her beat you up and forever be known as the guy that got his ass kicked by a girl – either way you lose. If you’re curious how that analogy could have anything to do with this album, a little background information is in order. Voivod’s guitar player died from cancer during the recording of their previous album, Katorz
, but the band had enough material to finish it without him. Actually, they had more than enough material because shortly before his death he asked that the band make one final album using the riffs he had saved on his laptop, and they obliged. There are a few questions that arise from this scenario, though. First, how good would most of these riffs be if they were basically jam-sessions that he recorded on his own? Second, would the band be able to take riffs that couldn’t be altered and still mold them into complete songs? Essentially, it really could have been a disaster. That would have left a reviewer with two options, either take his posthumous work and be the asshole that trashes it or be overly positive and lose all credibility – either way you lose.
It turns out, however, that making music for over 25 years might actually give a band the skills needed to continue creating enjoyable music, despite any hurdles. It also turns out that there’s a difference between a seasoned musician recording music to his computer and some snot-nosed kid in mommy’s basement playing with Garage Band. This leads to an unexpected third option for a reviewer – write a positive review for an album that doesn’t need to rely on nostalgia or non-musical occurances to get it. To finish off the analogy, this would kind of be like getting hit by the girl, but discovering it doesn’t really hurt and she’s wearing a low-cut shirt anyway. Basically, Voivod’s final album doesn’t suffer from any of the concerns stated earlier. The riffs are the quirky, original style that Piggy has been a master of since the 80s, the sound is clear and most of the songs feel energetic and complete.
Despite that description, most still wouldn’t know what to expect from this album since the band have gone through many musical changes throughout their career. For fans the best description is that since the return of original vocalist, Snake, the band have played a hybrid of Angel Rat
rock and Dimension: Hatross
progressive metal. That basically implies that the song structures themselves are relatively simple and built around choruses, but that the riffs are mostly the shrill, angular style that made the band famous. Another thing that has evolved are Snake’s vocals. Since his return he has delivered a hybrid of his various styles. Essentially, his voice is as nasally as ever but he has returned a bit of the gritty delivery that’s been missing since the Killing Technology
This hybrid of eras, both musically and vocally, leads to a great album that manages to not sound like a rehash of the band’s past. In fact, Inifini
sounds like it could have fit perfectly between Dimension: Hatross
with it’s sudden thrashy outbursts, weird sci-fi lyrics, and emphasis on more standard structures. Kudos has to be given to the surviving members for taking random riffs and creating complete and enjoyable songs with them. It should be expected, though, that the band’s desire to get the rest of Piggy’s material out to the public would result in including a few riffs or songs that they probably shouldn’t have. “Pyramidome” is the perfect example of the band using a weak main riff that also seems to have resulted in a lackluster vocal performace as well (he literally sounds like he’s drunk and just slurring whatever comes to mind). At 13 songs, the band could have cut the three weakest ones and used their good riffs to improve a few of the remaining 10. This would have made for an album that was at least equal to the previous album, if not better. As it stands, this album suffers from a few riffs and songs that were better off left on Piggy’s hard drive.
Despite a few weak moments, Infini
is a great final testament to the talent of departed guitarist, Piggy, as well as the remaining members. It takes the better elements from two of the band’s best albums and combines them to create an album that is simple in its structure yet still retains the great riffing and occasional musical tangents that the band excel at. The only minor issue was the band’s desire to include as much of Piggy’s material as possible. This definitely resulted in an album that is a little weaker than it could have been, but when the band shines they have the ability to make you forget about those missteps. For anyone that had quit on the band when Eric Forrest took over bass and vocal duties, my suggestion is to start with the band’s self-titled album and work your way up to this but for those that have never given up, this isn’t going to be the album that disappoints you.