Voivod – Warriors Of Ice Review

Originally written by Sasha Horn

With a setlist made up of primarily pre-90s Voivod, it’s hard not to get sentimental. So it’s off to the elementary school daze for a momentary lapse… Summer vacation 1988, Chicago, 90º Fahrenheit in the shade. We walked the streets armed with spray paint, beer, plans to kiss the girls from the next grade up, and a Dimension Hatross cassette. Yep, you got it… the essentials. Voivod had been carving out their iconic, genre-defying bastardization of metal and punk for seven years prior to the moment that I would defile someone’s daughter and the property of the city in the same twelve-hour period, with “Chaosmongers” my soundtrack to every move made. But the way I see it, Voivod was guilty of larger crimes. They rode in from far far away… Another galaxy? No. Canada. But it sounded like light years, and when they landed they knifed our kiddish ideas of what progressive thrash metal and punk intertwined could be at a time when that sort of tangle was rarely approached. They tore hard at the Metal moral fabric, and they won. My world was never the same. Goddamn it, our world was never the same.

This made 2005 all the more unbearable. Did you feel the Earth stand still when guitarist Denis D’Amour, a.k.a. Piggy, lost his battle with colon cancer? I did. Even the universe thought it impossible for Voivod to carry on in his absence. After all, he played those strings like he was guiding a puppet the size of a planet. Now how many of us are convinced that at least a speck of Denis’ light was reincarnated into current guitarist – and Martyr mastermind – Daniel Mongrain… Probably only myself and a handful of other Voivod weirdos. But the dude can mimic Piggy’s style to the point that it’s actually a bit creepy. And to top it off with a chill down the spine, he actually looks a tad bit like him, too. Warriors Of Ice is now the second official release of live material with Daniel in place of the late, great Mr. D’Amour, as well as that of Jean-Yves Theriault, the original ‘Vod bassist that took a seventeen-year hiatus and officially re-joined in 2008. For latecomers to this scene who thought that Jason Newsted was the be-all-end-all when he did his short stint, you need only hear this intro to “Overreaction” to know that there can be only one, and when it wasn’t this one, the stars in Voivod’s psychotic multiverse were not aligned. Well, they are now back in their right place.

And yes, you’d read correctly: “Primarily pre-90s Voivod”. In your heart of hearts you know that I had you at hello. But if not for the stellar setlist, then consider this an essential because Warriors is presented as it should be, with clarity, but sans the cosmetics that sometimes curse a live recording and reduce it to another studio session; it’s gritty in the best possible way, and it has a pulse, obviously felt throughout the crowd on this particular evening as well. The only time that the pre-90s code is broken inside of this one-hour-and-eleven-minute, fifteen-song outergalactic onslaught, is when we are graced with the presence of Angel Rat and reminded of Infini. The addition of “The Prow” and “Panorama” off of the former are hidden gems among a shitload of diamonds. The shiniest, in my opinion, being this Ice Warrior version of “Nothingface”. It’s a testament to Voivod defying age, defying time, and as always, defying genre. When you take into consideration that vocalist Denis Belanger is now fifty freaking years old, well… the voice surely is not; delicate when it needs to be and gruff when these smooth rides transform into Voivodian Decepticons, swallowing everything within reach of its proto-MetalPunk.

So this is absolutely, hands-down, the closest that this band will actually get to being this band, if you know what I mean. And this live chunk, recorded in Montreal in 2009, is as good as it gets to the real Voi-gig aural experience.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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