Review Summary: A split within my brain has opened all dimensions
As a kid, the idea of aliens creeped the hell out of me. My older brother had me watch the movie Fire in the Sky – a UFO abduction story based on actual accounts – and I didn’t sleep well for a month. For those who haven’t seen, the main character is subjected to highly unpleasant experiments at the hands of extraterrestrials; at one point a needle is even injected firmly and directly into one of his eyes. Oof. The part that really
shook me, however, must be the lie detector angle, in which the violated, badly shaken protagonist passes with flying colors as he spills the gory details. Once my fear subsided, it was replaced with something else: pure fascination.
I’m not sure what I think today, but Voivod do. Can you imagine writing about – very likely dreaming about – alien lifeforms and possessed machinery for 40 years? When you spend that much time invested on a topic it sort of just becomes your way of thinking. This must be why Synchro Anarchy
– their 15th trip to another planet – is as creative and effortless sounding as it is. And yeah… there are flying saucers and other dimensions and stuff! Admittedly, though, what makes this album special is how much it feels like a spiritual sequel to their 80s classics, Dimension Hatross
Though Target Earth
and The Wake
both solidified an impressive comeback for the Canadian thrashers this past decade, the vibe here is much more retro. It truly feels like the sequel we never got to those gems. Spastic, robotic guitars zig zag through an advanced city of cyborgs – with longtime vocalist “Snake” sounding as eccentric as ever. His nasally echo is a highlight throughout the album, with extra emphasis on his unique delivery to ensure each earworm sticks.
Take for example, his urgent reassurance that “we’re all planet eaters!”. When you have one of the most interesting voices in metal, a little extra emphasis never hurts.
The execution on Synchro Anarchy
is often crazed and thrilling. Other than some brief, but ominous doom-inspired guitar sections in “Mind Clock,” it’s a nonstop thrill ride. Despite never really slowing down, the album covers so many moods and styles within its frenetic confines that it never feels one-note. There’s the immense, thrash-heavy sequencing of “Paranormalium”, which continues the band’s knack for writing a killer opening track. While “The World Today” and “Sleeves Off” are insanely playful and quirky, with some groove-heavy bass and twisting guitar riffs colliding for pure enjoyment. Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain has done a hell of a job taking over guitar duties on the band’s last several albums, effectively recapturing the magic of the legendary D’Amour’s playing. And yes, he’s a manic beast throughout Synchro Anarchy
; unpredictable tempo changes and condensed, swarming riffs connect every mysterious corner of this bionic land.
Make no mistake: Voivod will go down in history as not only the untouchable, celestial kings of thrash, but as some of the best storytellers of Science Fiction for any medium. This is Twilight Zone or Twin Peaks-level good; it’s as intriguing as H.P. Lovecraft. Revisiting their discography – or, for some lucky souls, digesting their body of work for the first time – is nothing short of a treat. Thrash music was my first love on this site, and Synchro Anarchy
reignites this passion with a demanding fury. Need I say more? As Voivod put it over the multilayered guitars and swelling bass in “Planet Eaters”: sometimes we all need to spend some time away from earth.