Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Voivod - Killing Technology (1987)

War and Pain and Rrröööaaarrr may have firmly erected the foundations of Voivod's hostile thrashing punk sci-fi wasteland, but it was Killing Technology that truly put the band on the map. Armed with a legendary Harris Johns mix and a slew of frightening and alien riffs (for its era), this is the first true masterpiece from Canada's greatest band. Though I'd give the edge to Dimension Hatross as my all time favorite, few metal albums over the decades have been able to match the vision and originality of this classic.

Who could forget the rumbling ambience and the robotic voice which herald the title track? WE ARE CONNECTED. Followed by one of the freakiest metal riffs I have ever heard and Snake's signature punkish, almost conversational vocals, the lyrics create a pastiche of paranoid dystopian futurism. "Overreaction" takes off with the groove of intense punk bass smothered in Piggy's unique chord selections. We're not in fucking Kansas anymore. "Tornado" begins with subtle distorted chugging, a percussion swell and then a panic inducing barrage of chords. "Too Scared to Scream" wonderfully sums up the feelings I once felt about this a 12 year old I could barely believe what I was hearing. An album that challenged all thrash/speed metal conventions of its day with its unmitigated forward thinking dorkery, yet remained truly dark in nature. "Forgotten in Space" creates a descending extraorbital nightmare which truly suits the claustrophobic environment of its prison ship subjects. "Ravenous Medicine" is not only one of the best song titles ever, it was one of the more famous songs on the album. Who could forget the video? Snake's vocals rule on this track. "Order of the Blackguards" is anchored by its quick and groovy thrashing and eruption of glorious chords. "This is Not an Exercise" is pissed off post-industrial thrash metal fury.

The CD version contains two extra tracks from the "Cockroaches" EP. "Too Scared to Scream" and "Cockroaches" fit the tone of the album perfectly, the latter in particular is extremely enjoyable. The mix of the album is perfect to capture a grimy dystopic edge. These are the sounds of rusted guitar strings in an apocalyptic wasteland. Trash can drums and ripped leather punks in gasmasks. In fact, the album almost perfectly mirrors the early 80s cyberpunk explosion in science fiction circles, its metal equivalent. The musicianship is impressive, as I mentioned before there is simply noone who played guitar like Piggy did. Blacky's filthy, distorted bass was another of the joys of these earlier albums.

Voivod is a band with many killer albums, in terms of overall output I'd consider them a candidate for the best metal band in history. Though I have a fondness for their very early material and its rough and tumble style, this third album is where the magic really started. The vision conjured here would be further honed into the perfection of Dimension Hatross, and later taken to progressive extremes as the band shifted focus from its heavier edge to a more melodic tone, and then cycled back around again.

Unless you're a poseur who has been living under a rock all these years, you already know these things. If somehow you do not, acquire this and the rest of their albums, then educate yourself in one of the most enduring and original dialects in the metal cosmos.

Verdict: Epic Win [10/10]
(don't adjust your brain, it's now, it's real, real, real)


frank austin said...

Will this review finally be the turning point that forces me into setting aside a day or so to truly investigate the Voivod discography? It seems likely.

autothrall said...

For the love of Baphomet, do so IMMEDIATELY.