Voivod are back! With a history as dramatic and intense as that of the protagonist of their concept albums, these French Canadians now found time to stop and reflect, with a new live offering serving as a cap to a period of well deserved accolades. The touring cycle of 2018’s “The Wake” culminated with the prestigious Juno Award for Heavy Metal Album of the Year, so it seems natural to freeze this moment in time and document it on “Lost Machine – Live”, released on November 27 via Century Media.
If Voivod the character hasn’t yet found a redeeming conclusion to his saga in musical form, Voivod the band has experienced quite a resurgence of late. Their story includes the tragic death of their main composer, a career-defining bus accident, and other traumatic lineup changes, but things have been a little bit more stable in the last decade. The solidified lineup of Michael “Away” Langevin, Denis “Snake” Bélanger, Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain and Dominic “Rocky” Laroche are determined to push their mix of prog, thrash and punk with touches of sci-fi into the outer limits.
For a band of their caliber, Voivod are remarkably sparse in live releases. While Iron Maiden, Rush and Dream Theater have almost the same amount of live offerings as they have studio albums, these Québécois are now only in their third register of this kind after fourteen studio efforts. That in itself would make “Lost Machine – Live” very special, but that’s not all: through its 74 minutes, this register deftly captures the kaleidoscopic, mutant adrenaline rush of the band’s shows, balancing old school classics and epic new material. The source for this album was captured at the esteemed Quebec City Summer Fest on July 13, 2019, and was recorded and mixed by Francis Perron and mastered by Yannick St-Amand. For a band that sounds so raw and spontaneous on stage, there’s always a risk that the production could sound too rough, but all instruments and vocals can be clearly heard.
Obviously the band wanted to showcase the latest album, and “The Wake” clearly dominates the setlist, with four songs being represented. “Obsolete Beings” paints an ugly picture of how human beings are just a number in today’s society: “Become useless, recycle yourself/Or be replaced by something else/You must improve but you can’t follow/So there you are, straight in the bin, you’ll go”. The crazy time signatures of “Iconspiracy” bring a proggy flavor to their thrashy riffs and dissonant chords, and the plodding pace of “The End of Dormancy” expands on the album’s concept and provides a unique opportunity to headbang in mid-tempo. “Always Moving” completes the list of songs from “The Wake” included here. The new material, although miles away in terms of complexity when put aside songs like “Psychic Vacuum” or “Voivod”, blends in pretty well in the context of the show. With that being said, fans are still waiting for a chance to see that whole album played live in full, even if only for one special night.
One welcome addition to the set of the latest tour is “The Prow”, a fun song from a much maligned album, 1991’s “Angel Rat”. The somber “Fall” darkens the mood, with Snake reflecting on the bittersweet feelings that the season entails: “Time to deal with other problems/Feeling deep, remaining silent/Admiring colors as the wind blows”. Other highlights include the Pink Floyd cover “Astronomy Domine”, “The Lost Machine”, with Snake picking on Chewy’s guitar and Rocky’s bass in the intro, and the evocative and explosive “Into My Hypercube”. The album ends in full circle, with “Voivod”, the first song of their debut album, playing the role of consummate fan favorite.
Overall, “Lost Machine – Live” is a vibrant and vivid snapshot of a band at the height of their powers. The alchemists who first promoted the caustic clash between proggy concepts and metal rawness close a victorious chapter in their career, and open the door for more dystopian adventures. An argument could be made that this release deserved a longer setlist, and that seminal albums like “Nothingface”, “The Outer Limits” or “Killing Technology” should be better showcased here, but that’s part of the beauty of Voivod: they always leave the listener wanting more. The band is reportedly working on a new album, which means we might be satiated sooner rather than later.
Released By: Century Media Records
Release Date: November 27th, 2020
Genre: Progressive Metal
- Michael “Away” Langevin / Drums
- Denis “Snake” Bélanger / Vocals
- Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain / Guitars
- Dominic “Rocky” Laroche / Bass
“Lost Machine – Live” track listing:
1. Post Society
2. Psychic Vacuum
3. Obsolete Beings
4. The Prow
6. Into My Hypercube
7. The End Of Dormancy
9. Always Moving
11. The Lost Machine
12. Astronomy Domine
Voivod brings their sonic chaos into a much anticipated live release, with a no-holds-barred performance in front of fans and family in Quebec. “Lost Machine – Live” is a perfect display of what their set is like, with zero overdubs, the unexpectedly amusing blend of sci-fi, vampires and war, and an abundance of dissonant chords