Interest in Voivod remained as strong as ever, and the band decided to play a few concerts, recruiting Martyr guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain to fill Piggy’s considerable shoes. Chewy proved to be an enormous asset to Voivod as the band has received an outpouring of goodwill from the metal community over the last few years, and a few live recordings from this era were officially released in both DVD and live album formats, such as 2011’s Warriors Of Ice.
The live releases serve to provide closure of an era of Voivod as future albums would not feature material from D’Amour. Furthermore, over the course of these events, Chewy has become a permanent member of Voivod (the status of Martyr is unclear), and original bassist Jean-Yves “Blacky” Theriault was re-recruited back into the fold. Replacement bassist Jason Newsted has since departed.
Anticipation is high for Target Earth. What is striking about Chewy’s work on the album is how much different his style of songwriting is as a member of Voivod than with his older material from Martyr, an entirely different animal.
Chewy is fully embracing the style of Voivod laid down by Piggy’s singular, and signature, style of guitar playing and songwriting. Riffs are angular, the melodies flow, and the carefully applied moments of jazz improvisation pepper Target Earth throughout.
Chewy is not the only musician to shine on Target Earth (which should come as no surprise), as Snake’s trademark vocals make their definitive stamp on the album, and Blacky’s blower bass is an enormous presence throughout, providing a great deal of weight to an album that cannot really be classified as particularly heavy. A few harsh moments do appear here and there with some speedier moments within songs such as “Corps Etranger” and “Kluskap O’Kom,” a standout track and one of the album’s weirder moments.
Voivod also acknowledge their psychedelic influences with “Mechanical Mind,” a prior released single and a baroque sci-fi opus that brings to mind The Outer Limits. Stylistically, though, Target Earth is a solidly progressive metal album that harkens back to the Nothingface-era of Voivod, a time that saw the band fully embrace their progressive tendencies.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the album’s absolutely stunning cover artwork from drummer Away, whose own body of artistic work is impressive. Target Earth is a fantastic return for one of metal’s most dynamic and interesting bands. All hail the return of Voivod!
(released January 22, 2013 on Century Media Records)