Voivod - _Katorz_
(Nuclear Blast, 2006)
by: Jackie Smit (
Whichever way you choose to cut it, there really is no getting around the fact that for anyone counting themselves as a Voivod fan, reviewing _Katorz_ in an objective manner is a nigh on impossible task. With a backstory that includes Piggy's deathbed instructions for guitar tracks he had secretly been recording to be used for the group's fourteenth opus, the album represents not only a tragic token of the unfortunate passing of one of the genre's greats, but also a celebration of that which makes Voivod such an influential and enduring, if perpetually underrated, force in heavy metal.With so much technical wizardry going into actually getting the record completed, it's almost surprising that it should sound this good. Owing a significant chunk of its style to 1989's _Nothingface_, it's an organic effort that's stripped down and simplistic, delivering its ten songs in relatively economical and calculated bursts. The dichotomy here is that despite an apparent lack of the progressive elements that made _Dimension Hatröss_ an almost instant classic, songs like "After All" and the spine-tingling "Red My Mind" seem to reveal more of themselves with nearly every listen. Equally, the intended absence of a cohesive concept may strike seasoned fans as a departure of sorts, yet ironically the lyrics read almost like a real-life manifestation of the sci-fi symbolism that steered the band's past.But let's be honest. The essential lifesblood that pumps through _Katorz_ is the guitar playing of one Denis d'Amour, and if ever Piggy was going to go out with a bang, he has most definitely succeeded doing so here. Pumping out a slew of captivating riffs with the same conviction and passion as he did on _War & Pain_, d’Amour displays yet again his acute ability to maintain the balance between being technically flash and laying down the perfect groove for the rest of his bandmates to shine on. In the face of this, whether the rest of Voivod decide to continue his legacy is almost irrelevant. As a last testament to a great musician, this record makes for an odyssey that is as satisfying and fulfilling as practically anything else to carry their name.
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