Legendary Voivod remain vital, cosmically tormented on great 15th offering ‘Synchro Anarchy’

Photo by Catherine Deslauriers

Metal has its hefty share of bands that embrace speaking out on societal and political issues as well as trying to preserve the planet and take up for people with less power. That’s made it a lot easier to find bands that identify with our particular viewpoints, especially those who happen to be sympathetic to trying to preserve life for those around us.

Legendary Montreal sci-fi thrashers Voivod were some of the first to do that, lacing their early music with Reagan-era paranoia, nuclear worries, and environmental themes, with a huge dose of intergalactic fantasy, hence their alien mascot of the same name. After four decades of existence, the band is still running strong, getting ready to deliver their great 15th record “Synchro Anarchy,” an album that’s a blast of fun and finds Voivod sounding as powerful as they have the past 20 years, bringing their weird, warped style to these nine new tracks. The band—vocalist Denis “Snake” Belanger, guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain, bassist Dominic “Rocky” Laroche, drummer Michel “Away” Langevin—maintain their unique style as they sound undoubtedly like Voivod, and they remain as skeptical and worried about the world in which we live and whether enough people care to try.

“Paranormalium” kicks off the record, and immediately we’re ensconced in that bizarre Voivod spaceship only they can commandeer. The tempo jars as Chewy’s guitar work wonderfully reminds of the late Piggy’s weirdness, and we’re off to the races. Belanger is in fine voice, nasal and direct, playing with our emotions as this cut has all the classic trappings this band created. The title track brings jolting guitar work as the playing knifes your ribs, and there is some nice group harmony over the chorus, Belanger poking, “What are the odds?” Things get tricky before the guitars turn warmer, and then things glimmer as one more chorus blazes skies. “Planet Eaters” focuses on humanity’s penchant for scarring our own world and our formulating plans to branch into space with Voivod’s patented brand of absurdist humor that doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. A proggy jerk hits you hard as the bass folds, the pace clobbers, and a spacious stretch lights up the soloing. “Mind Clock” is moodier and even a little softer at times, especially vocally, at least for the first part. Things heat up as the bass get flexible and the guitars chug, giving off their classic sense of thrash. The music turns feverish, whipping through space, speeding and tangling as things end in eerie detachment.

“Sleeves Off” brings crushing riffs and heavy bass, battering and confounding, the slippery verses feeling like alien flesh. A wah-heavy solo washes in and warps while the final moments explode and shred bone. “Holographic Thinking” gallops in as strong vocals bruise, and the guitars dice and emit stardust. “Gone forever! Out there, fading out,” Belanger snarls as the guitar work climbs into the atmosphere, searching and scanning for signals. “The World Today” delivers sludging bass and a jerky pace, with a smooth chorus numbing your senses. Guitars get strange and bubble, and the playing is never not catchy, always making your brain work overtime. “Quest for Nothing” has trudging riffs and an active imagination, and even some gang shouts are worked in to add to the wounds. “I am a small grain of sand,” Belanger notes, later following with, “This life is the only one I have,” a needed warning for those who haven’t been living within themselves. “Memory Failure” ends the album by chugging in and chewing bone, humid playing coating the flesh. “You’re here to find it, you’ll never find it,” Belanger taunts as soloing goes off, rubbery rhythms confound, and the song wanders off into the open void.

After 15 albums and four decades as one of the most forward-thinking bands in the history of metal, Voivod continue to deliver the charmingly weird goods like they do on “Synchro Anarchy.” These guys never sound old or dated as their music lives in the stars, and they’re as hungry and paranoid as they’ve ever been, which makes them such a charming and challenging band. All hail the Voivod, destroyer and distributor of justice in the universe.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Voivod

To buy the album, go here: https://voivodband.lnk.to/SynchroAnarchy

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/centurymedia

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