What would you do to celebrate your band’s 40th anniversary? A live album? Maybe release a compilation? Well, Voivod are not known for taking the easy way out, so they decided to present something new and unique for the fans. And thus, “Morgöth Tales” was born, a new album where the band re-recorded songs from their back catalogue with the current lineup, counting on a little help from some faces which will be familiar if you have been following them for a while. Oh, and there’s a new song which names the album, and a hidden track. Let’s get to all of that in a minute!
Voivod are no strangers to celebratory releases lately. 2020 brought us their live album “Lost Machine Live”, and more recently they put out the “Ultraman” EP, with reinterpretations of the soundtrack of the namesake Japanese TV series. While the most substantial outbursts of creativity were reserved for their “official” releases, 2018’s “The Wake” and 2022’s “Synchro Anarchy”, there’s something unique about these special projects where they cater to an already captive audience. In that sense, “Morgöth Tales” serves two purposes: it’s a cool thing for fans to see the current (and most likely definitive) lineup tackle the material, and also a great point of introduction for those who want to know what all the hype about this band is about.
Recorded and mixed by Francis Perron at RadicArt Studio, mastered by Maor Appelbaum and produced by Voivod, the album kicks it off with “Condemned To The Gallows”. Originally recorded for the compilation album “Metal Massacre V”, the song was inexplicably omitted from the band’s debut album “War and Pain”. While the original had its charm, the version we hear benefits from a much better production, whilst maintaining the aggression and sense of urgency of the original recording. What stands out is that although this is in tune with the speed metal of the early 80’s and the Motörhead influence of their peers, it’s obvious that the seeds of what would come in the band’s sound were already sown from early on. Similarly, the jarring pace of follower “Thrashing Rage” (from 1986’s “Rrröööaaarrr”) does not lose an inch of the impact it had when it came out.
Next up we see the title track of 1987’s “Killing Technology”, which created the words that unite Voivod fans around the world – “we are connected”. Here appearing on a shortened version, this song inadvertently foreshadowed humanity’s dependence on the internet and cell phones. The words on the chorus are more relevant today than ever before: “Growing technology/Fooling technology/Killing technology!”. It’s followed by “Macrosolutions To Megaproblems”, yet another mainstay of their set-lists, and “Pre-Ignition”, from “Nothingface”, the album that put them in the mainstream. Both faithful to the originals, but with enough room for Dan ‘Chewy” Mongrain (guitars) and Dominic “Rocky” Laroche (bass), who weren’t in the band in its origin, to add their own spin.
A million time signatures later, we arrive at the material from albums where Voivod was closest to the mainstream, although much of their weirdness was still preserved then. In the early 90’s, the metal landscape was changing fast, shaken by the initial impact of grunge and reshaping into other forms, less confined to the boundaries of its inception. 1991’s “Angel Rat” and 1993’s “The Outer Limits” both threaded new waters for the band, and presented a slightly more polished approach. From these two releases, the band chose to revisit “Nuage Fractal”, where Rocky’s bass soars high, and “Fix My Heart”, which sounds slightly heavier than the original.
There’s also room for older members Eric Forrest (vocals and bass) and Jason Newsted (yes, THAT Jason) to make special appearances. Eric tackles “Rise”, from the period where Voivod flirted with industrial metal and more extreme forms of music. Jason plays on “Rebel Robot”, from their self-tilted release. “Voivod”, their 13th effort, marked the return of Snake on vocals and arguably their most successful period, having played at Ozzfest and constantly appearing on MTV – remember when that was still a thing?
Officially, “Morgöth Tales” ends with its title track, an all-encompassing five-minute song which somehow manages to capture all they are about: a small dose of pop, thrashy moments, solos at the speed of light, and a change in time signatures at every corner. The sonic cues and lyrical references are a joy to listen for long time fans, but if you’re new to the band, you’ll enjoy this one just as well. The genesis of this one goes back to the European tour with Opeth in November/December 2022, and shows the vibe of the experimental music they are doing nowadays, with a new twist.
But wait…don’t go away just yet, because they still have one alien in the bag. The hidden track here is a cover of Public Image Limited’s “Home”. Quite the unusual choice for a band whose guitar sound is always so distorted, with the six strings gnarling at you like a dragon from outer space. They haven’t sounded this melodic even when they covered Pink Floyd in the 90’s. While the original had Steve Vai on guitar, Chewy’s solo on this version takes cues from Eddie Van Halen’s whammy bar work. A great way to end this celebration, which leaves the fans curious about their next steps.
Not every band has the luxury of celebrating 40 years. Doing that when they’re still a cohesive unit which is pushing their sound forward and traveling the extreme galaxies of songwriting, is another cherry on their cosmic cake. A lot of their peers became just another business, with zero or no ties to its beginning and sometimes subcontracting the songwriting duties but certainly not Voivod. While chronologically it does seem that they’re closer to the end of their career than to the beginning, musically they remain as creative and relevant as ever.
Released By: Century Media Records
Release Date: July 21st, 2023
Genre: Progressive Metal / Sci-Fi Metal
- Rocky / Bass
- Away / Drums
- Snake / Vocals
- Chewy / Guitars
“Morgöth Tales” track listing:
- Condemned To The Gallows (2023 Version) [originally on “Metal Massacre V” compilation, 1984]
- Thrashing Rage (2023 Version) [originally on “Rrröööaaarrr”, 1986]
- Killing Technology (2023 Version) [originally on “Killing Technology”, 1987]
- Macrosolutions To Megaproblems (2023 Version) [originally on “Dimension Hatröss”, 1988]
- Pre-Ignition (2023 Version) [originally on “Nothingface”, 1989]
- Nuage Fractal (2023 Version) [originally on “Angel Rat”, 1991]
- Fix My Heart (2023 Version) [originally on “The Outer Limits”, 1993]
- Rise (2023 Version, feat. Eric Forrest) [originally on “Phobos”, 1997]
- Rebel Robot (2023 Version, feat. Jason Newsted) [originally on “Voivod”, 2003]
- Morgöth Tales [New Song]
The Ltd. CD Jewelcase in O-Card and Digital Album formats will also come with a cover version of the Public Image Ltd. track “Home” as bonus.
The LP format will come on 180g vinyl and with a 4page LP-Booklet in the following variants:
- Black LP – Unlimited
- White LP – Ltd. 800x copies (Canada & CMDdistro)
- Transparent Green LP – Ltd. 300x copies (CMDdistro)
Celebrating 40 years of a lustrous career, Voivod revisits songs from their past with their current lineup, from their thrash-punk origins to prog-metal, to whatever comes next. How can a band manage to play their old material whilst looking forward at the same time? Apparently, only Voivod knows. Listen to this one and find out!