Friday, January 13, 2012

Mighty strange to see Voivod being covered in The Guardian, but indeed they have: right here. I've blogged about the band before, notably here, if the urge takes you. The band were one of the shining lights of underground rock & roll during their hey-day (approx. the last half of the 1980s), though they continued to make some excellent records in the 1990s, too, despite the fact that they sounded nothing like the band of yore. But a band like Voivod was never one to musically sit still. Their early discs, such as War & Pain and Rrroooaaarrr!!!, sound like Discharge/Venom/Motorhead hybrids, almost proto crust, primitive in approach and rough in sound, a bag of fun but nothing which gets me that excited. The real goods are the following 3 discs, from 1987/'88/'89, respectively: Killing Technology, Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. By this stage, the band had come heavily under the spell of Milwaukee's mighty Die Kreuzen, as well as everything from PiL to Swans to Black Flag to Rush(!), and incorporating these elements into their own unique blend of sci-fi punk/thrash/metal, they made a mighty roar. Back in the '80s, I was prone to thinking that just about all music which fell under the banner of contemporary heavy metal was a crock, and that was simply the opinion of one pimply-faced pud, but a band like Voivod couldn't possibly be pigeonholed: they followed their own muse, and I'm glad they came to being. Alternative Tentacles has recently reissued their original 1984 demo tape on both CD and LP, and I've been lucky enough to procure a copy of the CD from the label (via my regular "gig", not this blog), and it's an interesting slice of history. The Guardian article's headline is a bit of a misnomer: "... the demo tape that changed metal". The article in no way articulates how it changed anything, and if you were to view this matter via any kind of objective means, you'd figure they'd have a hard time arguing such a point. And none of this is to denote that the tape in question ever was anything but a very fine thing. The recording is rough, by Voivod standards, though compared to most demo tapes recorded by underground rock & roll bands of the day, this sounds like a Jim Steinman production. At the very least, the guitar and rhythm section is crisp and pummeling, w/ "Snake"'s vocal grunt's coming to the fore. There's not one but two Venom covers, as well as a Mercyful Fate tune in the mix, and the rest are very much in the same manner as that from their debut (tracks are duplicated). I'm not sure I would've forked over hard-earned cash for this - like I said, I've never been of the opinion that the band really came into their own until their 3rd outing - but it's a historically interesting slab of primal noise, and fanatics will want to jump on board.

Another article worth reading, from the LA Weekly, is right here. It details life in the early '80s for Black Flag, specifically the recording and release of their epochal Damaged LP, and writer Erick Lyle actually seems to know what he's talking about. For myself, the 1980s possessed the Holy Trinity of God-like noise as emitted by Black Flag, Minutemen and the Meat Puppets, and this well-penned piece helps put the picture together. Unlike The Guardian article, the headline for this one remains a great truism: Damaged did change punk and LA as we know it. Do "they" still make records like Damaged in the year 2012? If so, I'm painfully unaware of their existence, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Erick Lyle definitely knows what he is talking about. He was the guitar player for the Black Flag- and Germs-inspired Chickenhead. Also know for his squatting-in-Miami-Beach days documents in his zine/book Scam.