Review Summary: A macro-solution to the mega-problems of 80’s metal.
Voivod’s previous album, Killing Technology
received minimal acclaim from both the fans and the metal press, despite its numerous advents. In a severe crisis of common logic, they weren’t few those who claimed that Voivod was probably one of the worse metal bands ever to set foot on the face of the Earth. No surprise here, though. The last years of the 80’s are characterized by the reign of “hair” metal and the gradual assessment of thrash as a “has-been” sensation within the metal domain. Despite the fact that the second wave of thrash bands has already begun to mutate into something new, giving new life to both the bands and metal in general, their efforts don’t get the deserved attention, as fans seem reluctant and often hostile in understanding the change in attitude that these bands are suggesting. While Voivod were loosely related to both thrash waves, their strictly underground status seems to not discourage them one bit in further pursuing their musical endeavors. Despite the convictions of the majority of fans and press, Voivod release their new album, titled Dimension Hatross
and prove that Killing Technology
was a rough diamond, waiting to be further processed via the band’s unique intellect.
The first listening sessions of Dimension Hatross
give further ground to the previously vague (but within reason) notion that Voivod is a band unlikely to stay within the same musical coordinates twice. In a repeat of history, Dimension Hatross
is significantly disjointed from Killing Technology
in every ascribable respect. The rhythm section of Away and Blacky is almost unrecognizable; imitating the random, elliptic and highly mesmerizing ways of water moving within the asperities of a steep river valley, the ensemble of rhythms and moods presented here pretty much assesses the corresponding (and awesome in its respect) work for Killing Technology
as one-dimensional. Drummer Away and bassist Blacky, showing tremendous improvement as individual players, build further on those few but distinct grooves that spiced the punk-ish thrash metal attack of the previous album. In that light, they develop highly enhanced versions of those grooves, depending less and less on the “typical” speed/thrash drumming, which is used only on occasion, in order to relieve the pressure. On the other hand, Piggy’s guitar riffing is up to a whole different level as well and on par with the diversity of the rhythm section. Following or being attractively disjointed from the latter, his riffing stands as the third of the immaculate cornerstones sustaining Dimension Hatross
. At times, it is really hard to say whether his guitars are rhythm or lead, as both are jointly interrelated. As the punk element remains intact and strictly within a highly original tech-metal perspective, the overall feel of the riffs is severely disharmonic. The latter can be seen as a sonic metaphor of how radiation or water vapour molecules diffuse in space and/or in the human atmosphere. As if the above weren’t enough, Piggy is playing games with the mind of the listener by deliberately repeating different riffs within different songs.
This latter clue serves as a proper innuendo for the band’s excelling once again in both its lyrical and vocal duties, via the whole band and Snake’s work respectively. For the second time in a row, the lyrics evolve within a solid yet highly imaginative concept. Warlord Voivod descends, via the aid of a cyclotron, to the sub-atomic scale to explore and observe the unknown civilizations that reside therein (“Experiments”). The social intercourse of Voivod with the natives passes through different stages: From power games of religious/political nature with the authorities (“Tribal Convictions”) to his joining of forces with the local terroristic groups against the established regime (“Chaosmongers”) and from there to the evolution of endless wars, occurring both within the mind and the physical world (“Brainscan”, “Psychic Vacuum”). The stakes at hand lie within the complete control of minds and bodies under one unified dictatorship. Upon his return home, Voivod finally concludes that things are pretty much the same as in the macro-world (“Cosmic Drama”). Snake is doing a spectacular job in giving life to both opposing sides. In terms of a theatrical play, Snake is aptly replacing both masks of “laughter” and “grief” during the course of the plot, while the suspense in the impersonation of all conflicting sides closely resembles that of an ancient Hellenic tragedy combined with the social terror that George Orwell aptly describes in his legendary novel 1984
The sound production of Harris Johns is simply superb. The guitars attain a “cloudy” texture that warmly cloaks the superbly audible bass and the drums, while Snake’s voice has been given superb depth.
In closing, Dimension Hatross
constitutes a macro-solution to the mega-problems of 80’s rock/metal. It is now up to the present and future generations of listeners and musicians to explore and interpret the novelties of this record, which seems to have appeared like lightning in a clear sky…