Voivod – The Wake album review

Canada’s prog metal kings Voivod take a tumultuous trip on The Wake

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The Wake

1. Obsolete Beings
2. The End Of Dormancy
3. Orb Confusion
4. Iconspiracy
5. Spherical Perspective
6. Event Horizon
7. Always Moving
8. Sonic Mycelium

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Against the odds, Voivod’s 13th studio album turned out to be a lucky one. The death of talismanic guitarist Piggy in 2005 may not have ended the Canadians’ story, but it certainly made moving forward a daunting proposition. But such was the flair and verve that new guitarist Dan ‘Chewy’ Mongrain brought to 2013’s Target Earth, it felt more like an exercise in artful continuity than a break from the past. But if the first Piggy-less Voivod record steadied the ship and kept the fans happy, their 14th full-length, The Wake, is where this most instinctively subversive of bands veer off on another of those wonderfully wilful tangents that brought us the seminal likes of Nothingface and The Outer Limits. Fifty-six minutes of the wildest and densest music they’ve made in a long time, it’s unmistakably Voivod, but somehow bigger, more colourful and more avowedly psychedelic than ever before.

Opening track Obsolete Beings is partly a red herring, its central riff letting you know precisely whose world we’ve been transported to, but by the time The End Of Dormancy slithers into view, the sonic psilocybin has kicked in and the landscape suddenly looks a lot less reassuring. The level of invention here is absurd; with Snake’s voice providing the narrative glue, Voivod sound drunk on ideas, these songs’ generous proportions allowing each bizarre detour to reach its most satisfying, (un)natural conclusion. There are plenty of Dimension Hatröss-era thrills for the faithful, of course; Orb Confusion is like all of the band’s revelatory, late-80s moments crammed into six breathless and joyously wonky minutes, while Always Moving is part pop-eyed thrash, part Syd Barrett reverie. But at its heart, amid the kaleidoscopic, skew-riff meltdown of Spherical Perspective, the collapsing grooves of Event Horizon and the bewildering, cinematic frenzy of closing colossus Sonic Mycelium, The Wake is like nothing else on Earth and Voivod are still in a class of one.