Review Summary: The remaining original members of Voivod reunite to thrash through selected tracks from their first six albums.
Technical thrash/prog rock veterans Voivod have been through a ton of shit over their thirty year career. They’ve had to deal with multiple line-up changes, including five different bass players and two vocalists, and have gone on ‘hiatus’ twice in the last ten years. Of course, the biggest loss was the death of their iconic guitarist, Denis D'Amour. It was his distinctive playing style, more than anything else, that gave the band their unique sound and it ended up influencing countless other guitar players. When he died there was the obvious question of whether the rest of the band would continue, and after much soul-searching they opted to remain active. This lead to a series of concerts including a special headlining gig at Club Soda in Montreal. This concert was special because it featured all of the remaining original members reunited onstage for the first time since 1991; rounded out by Daniel Mongrain on guitar. Fortunately, for those of us that couldn’t make it to Canada for that solitary show, the band have released it as the fifteen track Warriors of Ice
With the inclusion of original bass player Jean-Yves Thériault, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Warriors of Ice
is basically a celebration of the band’s first six albums (as well as two songs from Infini
). That means that everything from the sloppy thrash of War and Pain
to the slick prog of Angel Rat
is represented, and they all benefit from the modern, bottom-heavy production. Of course, purists may argue that the original productions were pretty damn good (and I would agree), but there’s something to be said about hearing “Voivod” from their 1984 debut with a huge clear guitar sound and a thunderous rhythm section backing it. The songs that seem to benefit even more from this thick production are the ones taken from Angel Rat
– both of which lacked any real power on the original albums. Both of those albums were aligned more with prog rock than the band’s thrash beginnings and the productions reflected that focus, but on Warriors of Ice
they’re treated to the same heavy sound as the rest of the music. The gritty guitar sound and fat bottom end give the Angel Rat
songs a power that they originally lacked, to the point that they actually sound more like metal tracks now. Nothingface
’s songs benefit from the same powerful sound, but it also gives the quirky technical arrangements more of a chaotic feel than the originals – especially near the end of the title track.
Even after thirty years of struggling through relative obscurity, Voivod are still here and playing for their love of metal and it shows on Warriors of Ice
. Over the course of fifteen tracks, the band faithfully recreate their quirky thrash tunes with the same reckless abandon they had in the early 80s, while still being just as adept at replicating the technical aspects of their later albums. Regardless of album, though, each song is delivered with an energy and heaviness that the original albums’ productions just couldn’t deliver, and that fact combined with the special reunion of the original members should be enough for any Voivod fan to seek this out.