VOIVOD (CAN) – Synchro Anarchy, 2022 🇬🇧


Versión en español

With almost forty years behind them, the Canadian band VOIVOD gives us a new catalog of their peculiar way of understanding (and performing) metal, an aspect that has taken them to be known worldwide. Although in these four decades the band has gone through different stages with some ups and downs, it is in the year 2022 when they are surprisingly reaching a wider audience. It would be quite strange if anyone reading this didn’t know VOIVOD, even if only by hearsay. If it’s not the case, here is a short summary: this is possibly Canada’s best-known metal band along with, if we stick to others fishing in the same fishing ground, ANVIL, ANNIHILATOR, and EXCITER.

After two seminal albums that today are absolute classics, where they played a kind of cavernous and very punk thrash metal, the three albums for which they are best known and essential pillars to understanding what became progressive thrash metal. They would evolve more and more into progressive metal as the staunch followers of PINK FLOYD that they always were and in fact, the song «Astronomy Domine» is a must in their live shows. Later they even touched on alternative rock-metal when a certain Jason Newsted, rebounded from a certain METALLICA, recorded three albums with the band that is more appreciated today than they were back in the day. And that’s when VOIVOD could have disappeared forever. Guitarist Denis D’Amour’s legacy was gone forever with his untimely death.

In 2013 the band re-emerged with Target Earth and, since then, they have steadily ascended to regain the aura of the great band they once were. With a new guitarist that perfectly emulated the technique and main characteristic of the VOIVOD sound, the charismatic vocalist Denis «Snake» Bélager, and one of the founders, drummer, and creator of the whole art and concept, Michel «Away» Langevin, rolled up their sleeves and dedicated themselves body and soul to recapturing VOIVOD‘s stylebook of albums that are now metal classics like Killing Technology, Dimension Hatröss, and Nothingface. But, it’s time to talk about this new album, Synchro Anarchy, which comes with another artwork by Langevin that leaves no doubt that VOIVOD is still immersed in their particular parallel universe, where the nuclear war doesn’t stop and the machines have become clever killers.

VOIVOD has always been a band that has shown considerable evolution in each of their albums without renouncing their characteristic sound, derived from a very particular way of playing the guitar in charge of the great Denis D’Amour. Nowadays there are many bands that, from thrash metal parameters, play with dissonances, atonal chords, and all kinds of tricks. All of those details are much more appreciated and understandable than in VOIVOD‘s classic albums, and maybe that’s why this new stage is becoming very good for the band in terms of popularity. But at last, it seems that the Canadians have decided to stop exploring and have settled with a setup they put up with Target Earth‘s, improved with The wake, and polished with this Synchro Anarchy. They have undoubtedly come to a point where they don’t experiment as much but, they have come to achieve their best-produced albums, reinforcing that proggy sound even more. As well as the two previous albums, Synchro Anarchy focuses almost entirely on the excellent work of guitarist Daniel Mongrain. Looking in the rear-view mirror at the recipe book that D’Amour left as an inheritance, Mongrain is at ease and feels more comfortable than ever before in this incessant to-and-fro of twists and turns that end up forging that post-apocalyptic atmosphere created by Langevin‘s head. The latter also stands out, which is nothing new, with his jazzy way of playing the drums, and the truth is that the two of them alone make up three-quarters of the album. Snake has never been a singer, nor does he stand out for his vocal technique, but his atypical way of «narrating» the lyrics also helps to increase the feeling of a journey to another dimension that the band pursues in each of their albums. VOIVOD‘s music is not easy to assimilate and in this album, they prove it once again, although if you give it a chance the sonic experience is more than assured.

Another aspect of Synchro Anarchy that was also notorious on the two previous albums, is that there is not a big difference between one track and another. Yes, there are numerous changes of rhythm and colorful passages in each of the grooves, but everything is so unified in a perfectly netted ambiance, that from the first chords of «Paranormalium» to the last of «Memory failure» it seems as if we were listening to a single forty-eight-minute track. And, you might be thinking that I mean this album is too much, but what I am really telling you is that it’s more coherent with what the band’s going for and technical enough to spend hours finding all the nuts and bolts of this killing machine. Synchro anarchy is fun if you like to look for details in successive listens, it’s leaden and even maddening if you don’t have a minimum of patience, it’s a masterpiece if you’ve been sucking progressive metal since you were a kid, and it’s VOIVOD if you’ve been listening to them since the whipping days of War and pain.

Translated by Irene López.