Very few bands survive for four decades. Even fewer are those that continue to reach new creative heights, long after legendary status has been achieved. Voivod were never like other bands: even as the thrash metal scene exploded in the early ‘80s, the Jonquière, Quebec crew stood apart, both as unique visionaries and as proud subverters of the metallic norm. From early prog-thrash classics like “Killing Technology” and “Dimension Hatröss” through to the psychedelic explorations of “The Outer Limits”, Voivod have been standard-bearers for individuality and creative freedom for nearly 40 years.
Always defiantly out of step with prevailing trends but widely respected as true mavericks, Voivod even weathered the untimely death of talismanic guitarist and songwriter Denis ‘Piggy’ D’Amour in 2005. Buoyed by the support of their huge global following, surviving original members Denis ‘Snake’ Belanger (vocals), Michel ‘Away’ Langevin (drums) and Jean-Yves ‘Blacky’ Thériault (bass) embarked on a new and challenging chapter in the Voivod story, releasing the much-hailed “Target Earth” in 2013, with newly installed guitarist Daniel ‘Chewy’ Mongrain immediately proving himself to be a smart and dextrous successor to D’Amour.
By 2014, bassist Dominic ‘Rocky’ Laroche had replaced Thériault, and a new incarnation of this indestructible band crossed their compositional beams to forge yet more mind-bending, psychedelic post-thrash wizardry. Released in 2018, “The Wake” was almost universally hailed as the finest Voivod album since the band’s late ‘80s heyday. An extraordinary, multi-faceted prog metal colossus, it confirmed that Voivod are currently enjoying a fresh surge of power and passion, even as they approach their 40th anniversary. One of the band’s most successful albums yet, “The Wake” won the Juno award for Best Hard Rock/Metal album of the year in Canada and scored chart entries in Germany (#26), Switzerland (#51), Belgium (Wallonia) (#94) and the USA (New Artist: #8 & Overall: #148): confirmation that the band’s return to peak form had struck a chord with fans old and new. Not surprisingly, Voivod duly hit the road to reaffirm their status as one of metal’s most unique and powerful live acts.
“The chemistry and camaraderie in this line-up is really fantastic and it’s been propelling us forward,” says Langevin. “The fact that the album was so well received despite its intricacy is a good indication for us that we are following a good path with this sort of fusion metal. This being said, the next album we make might be different, Voivod being Voivod!”
Right now, it’s time for Voivod to unveil a brand new live album that deftly captures the kaleidoscopic, mutant adrenalin rush of the band’s shows. Following swiftly on from this year’s “The End Of Dormancy” EP, the new live set boasts a full Voivod show, bursting with old school classics and epic new material. “Lost Machine – Live” was captured at the esteemed Quebec City Summer Fest on July 13, 2019. Recorded and mixed by Francis Perron and mastered by Yannick St-Amand, it’s a vibrant and vivid snapshot of a band at the height of their powers.
“We had it in mind for a while, so when we were asked to perform at the Montreal Jazz Fest and Quebec City Summer Fest last year we jumped on the occasion and asked Francis to come along and record the shows,” Langevin explains. “He recorded and mixed the “Post Society” EP and “The Wake”. At first we thought we would blend both Montreal and Quebec City’s shows but after hearing the recordings, we decided that the performance in Quebec City was really solid all the way through and it would make a great live LP. We saved some of the Montreal Jazz Fest tracks for “The End of Dormancy”. All the 2020 Voivod shows have now been pushed to next year so it was a good time for us to mix and master the album, and do the lay-out, during quarantine.”
Audibly revelling in the shared chemistry that drives them forward, Voivod cover a huge amount of musical and historical ground during “Lost Machine – Live”. From razor-sharp renditions of revered classics like “Psychic Vacuum” and “Into My Hypercube” through to the subversive prog metal mischief of recent songs like “Obsolete Beings”, “Post Society” and “Iconspiracy”, it’s a thunderous and exhilarating proof that Voivod are having more fun than ever right now. Even the band’s legendary cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” seems to crackle with revitalised energy and mad-eyed wonder. These are obviously the greatest of times for Voivod.
“I think the fact that we get along so well helps tremendously,” Langevin notes. “With Chewy and Rocky’s virtuosity, and Snake and I bringing in the old school punk thrash elements, the recipe is just working perfectly. We now have played many, many shows with this formation, so we are like a machine, both live and in studio. You know, many young kids are into Voivod and other thrash metal bands nowadays, and they usually sing along to the old and new material, they seem to appreciate the whole catalogue. We still have our old friends coming to see us too, so the shows have been really packed for us around the globe the last few years.”
As the music world waits to be freed from the pandemic leash, Voivod are in a better position than most to feel optimistic about the future. From the naïve revolutions of the thrash era to today’s artful reinventions, Canada’s greatest metal export continue to bend the rules and aim for the stars. Whatever comes next is guaranteed to blow your mind.
“We just played a live stream show and it went really well, so we might be doing more of that in the future,” Langevin concludes. “We’re going to start playing venues in mid-October here in Quebec, with the new sanitary protocols, so we’ll see how it goes at this end. Then we will spend the rest of this year writing new material. At this point it’s hard to say if the next record will be more or less proggy than “The Wake”, but one thing is for sure… it will be Voivodian!”