Review Summary: Not only have Voivod managed to press on without one of their key songwriters, they've also released one of the best albums of their long career.
For many, Piggy was Voivod. Although both he and Michel Langevin (Drums) had been with the band since its inception, it was Piggy’s guitar playing that had created their unique appeal. Of course, it would be wrong not to give credit to Snake’s distinctive vocal style and sci-fi lyrics as well, but it was mostly the riffs. Based on Piggy’s prominence within the band, most fans were probably under the assumption Voivod would die with him, but that didn’t happen. At first it started slowly; a few shows with fill-in guitarist, Daniel Mongrain, to celebrate Piggy’s final album. But, over the course of those shows it stopped looking like Voivod’s swansong and more like their second (or third, or fourth) coming. Fans were responding well to the new guitarist, Blacky (their original bass player) returned to the fold and there were even whispers of a new album. Of course, there’s a big difference between touring without a key songwriter and actually trying to release new material without him.
It would be understandable if fans were a bit skeptical, but regardless of outside opinions, the band pushed through and Target Earth
is the end result. So, was the skepticism warranted? Quite honestly, if I hadn’t already known Piggy wasn’t on this album, I would have sworn Target Earth
was written and recorded by the man himself. Of course, Voivod have released a few duds in their time, so a bit more elaboration is probably still in order. This statement should leave little doubt: Target Earth
is one of the best things to come from the band since The Outer Limits
. The fact of the matter is Target Earth
could fit comfortably between Dimension: Hatross
without any issues; that is how good this album is. More importantly, that is how well new guitarist, Daniel Mongrain, was able to emulate Piggy’s distinctive style and stay true to the band’s root sound. The weird tones and futuristic thrash riffing are on full display, as are the abrupt time changes and high-energy tempos.
I just can’t get over how much this album sounds like peak-era Voivod – the three albums stretch from Killing Technology
, in case there was any doubt. Of course, there’s still another reason to wax nostalgic about the band’s early days – the long overdue return of original bassist, Blacky. The gritty bottom end and surging bass lines are another part of what made the band so good, and his return is most certainly welcome. Even the band’s vocalist has got in on the old-school homage by delivering the kind of dirty, off-kilter vocal performance not put to record since Killing Technology
. All of this reference to the past shouldn’t be taken for more than it is though. Target Earth
is definitely a modern Voivod album and one that stands on its own, while most certainly serving as a tribute to Piggy and the band’s roots.
There were probably a lot of people that felt the band were risking their legacy by recording without Piggy, but I think he’d be proud of his bandmates. Target Earth
isn’t just another modern Voivod album teasing fans with subtle hints of the band’s peak years while never really delivering; this is the band jumping in with both feet and totally embracing what most people love them for. Target Earth
is the speed, technicality and thrashy weirdness of the band’s earliest album enveloped in a modern package that is also able to retain its own vibe and personality. Anyone worried about what Dan Mongrain and company would do to the Voivod sound can now rest easy, because this is the best thing they’ve done in many, many… many years.