From Morgoth To Megabytes 
The First Five Faces of Voivod

by Terrance 'neutronboy2000'
Intro: Concept bands come and least it's been that way since the late 60's with the "psychedelic-collateral casualty" acts such as: Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer (although they smothered such "flower-power" under reverberating feedback-attack). The next decade (1970's) proved to induce permanent sleep when 'self-indulgent' bands dabbled in tales of fair maidens, doubtful dragons/kings, amorous elves and costly caravans. However, there were some interesting case studies of "progressive space-oddities" such  as:' Hawkwind' (featuring Lemmy Kilmister on bass/sometimes vocals), 'Devo'/'Rush', David Bowie (more or less his 'Ziggy Stardust' persona) & even 'Iron Maiden' whose 'Eddie' character ended up being a sad parody. By the early 80's,the idea of the 'concept' album was pretty much 'D.O.A' in conventional rock music circles as "punk", "heavy-metal" and "t.n.w.o.b.h.m" took control and vowed to make music interesting and violent. As an important 'footnote' to the "progressive- rock"/"space-muzak" file, a little-known San Francisco band 'Chrome' virtually created what would be known as "art-damaged spacerock". They sung about future paranoia, aliens and living machines. It wouldn't be until 1984 when another band would totally reinterpret and breathe life into this genre...

That band was...Voivod. Although it's usual for the idea of a band to come first, then create the conceptual theme, Voivod is probably the only band that revolves around a concept character that would reflect the speculative, bizarre and innovative  metaphysical/scientific-fact and fiction philosophies of the band members. Coming out of nowhere (actually a small town in the Quebec province), they pushed way over the known principles of punk/metal/ rock-progressive/ thrash & all points in between with "double-bind the mind" time signatures/otherworldly rhythms. Years before "high-tech dystopia", "flying saucer mythos/ invasions", "electronic-age isolation" and "inner body exploration" became the exploitable norm, Voivod was saying "the alert is on...the future is now!" In this article I will revisit the "atom-archives" of Voivod's past history. I will look at the evolution of this fictional creature from radioactive vampire to it's semi-  final plunge into deep catalepsy as the "no-being" or "nothingface". Won't you come down inside the "undershelter'" as I find the "perimeter zone", get inside the "defense grid", deactivate the weapons array & turn on the screen to peer inside...? 

This weird tale began in a small town named Jonquiere, which is located in the northern region of the Quebec province/du le province Quebecois. I don't know if there was much of a music scene in the region, but Jonquiere had the largest aluminum processing/extraction plant in all of North America. Most of the people were employed there, and one of the local kids who lived nearby was named Michel Langevin. He would use this experience as a reference much later. Michel drew pictures from t.v. in his childhood and soon began to create his own characters. He was actually encouraged by a slightly older friend who later had to be sent away (no pun intended) to a special school. Michel created an early, rough version of the 'Voivod' character when he was about nine or ten. He spent most of time in his room reading books about science fiction, particularly J.R. Tolkien's "Lord Of The Rings". After a near fatal car accident, he began to delve further into biology/mechanics and technology. He read Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' a couple of years later and came upon the name 'Voivod'. He envisioned a "post-nuclear" vampire who lived in a land of constant war called 'Morgoth'. He drew an early type of the "new-age 'Voivod/Korgull' machine. It was then he thought of learning to play drums in his room, and started to find others who would bring his concept to fruition. Michel also knew Denis D'Amour who could play guitar and bass, along with Jean-Yves Theriault. They started jamming around 1980-81 but not much came of it so Michel called it a day, took off a year to further refine the crude early warning. D'Amour taught Jean-Yves to play the bass guitar after he found him spinning tunes as a DJ in a local pub. They got back together in November of '82 to find a singer who would be the voice of 'Voivod'. Their nicknames came from: 'Piggy' (D'Amour was a rotund child so hence the name), 'Away' (Michel wouldn't show up for practice days at a time) & 'Blacky' (explained in a March 1999 online int. by Jean-Yves as "being a black cloud, constantly bitching." They found Denis Belanger at a game of 'Improvisation' acting as a worm, so his nickname 'Snake' (facial elongation and large mouth). They did mostly cover songs by: 'Raven', 'Motorhead', 'Thrust', 'Sex Pistols', 'AC/DC', 'Tank' and others, so there wasn't a lot of original material being written. Michel proposed calling the band 'Voivod', but they didn't go for it & it was only after he explained the concept when they all agreed. The members brought their varied influences that included fellow Canadian "prog-hogs" 'Rush' and 'Van Der Graf Generator', 'Motorhead', 'Pink Floyd', 'MC5', 'Iggy Pop', 'GBH', 'Discharge', 'Stravinsky', soundtrack composer Dominic Frontiere (of "The Outer Limits"/"The Invader; anthologies) among others. Their first official show was recorded on 6.25.83/venue unknown (which was issued as a live demo later entitled "Anachronism"). The four 'Morgoth' warriors with specialized directives were: (Snake) Denis Belanger-"throat''/"scream"/"insults"/"mike torture & weapon operator", (Piggy) Denis D'Amour-"burning metal-axe"/"electro- motive force & tremolition", (Blacky) Jean-Yves Theriault- "blower bass"/"pyromania and shit", (Away) Michel Langevin- "thunder and death machine"/"horror and visions". 

In January 1984, ' Voivod' put out a 16 song /four track practice tape demo "To The Death!" which was sent to a friend named Wayne Archibald who then forwarded it to 'Metal Blade' records. The record company selected "Condemned To The Gallows" (which, oddly enough had nothing to do with the concept and the guys didn't like it much) for the 'Metal Massacre V compilation which also featured 'Slayer' and 'Hellhammer' (who later metamorphosized into "avante-garde" omnbudsmen 'Celtic Frost'). This song brought them exposure outside of their hometown. The demo featured song ideas that would come out later in the first two full-lengths. 

Now it was time for these "artic warriors" to unleash a full "nuclear-fission blast" upon the music industry, but it would take money to do so. Not many kids who start a "rock-n-roll"/"metal" or just plain "loud" band can expect their parents to subsidize their dreams, but 'Away', 'Snake', 'Piggy's' and 'Blacky's' parents loaned them money to record their debut album and to upgrade their musical instruments. "War And Pain" was recorded/mixed at 'Le Terroir' studio in Quebec,19th-27th of June 1984. The studio was basically 8-track & they did product jingles. In fact, the owner demanded that 'Piggy' turn down his guitar. The debut album features the origin of the 'Voivod' concept character who was a "post-nuclear vampire" that wakes up screaming from a nuclear war in the land of 'Morgoth'. He's made of .'.". ~- ~- : flesh and bone, but it's totally "maimed". He's a ruthless, nihilistic warrior who, along with his tribe want to destroy everything in their midst. The logo "Voivod" on this album cover resembles a bleak, militaristic defense outpost with spiked barriers. The character is in full combat gear with laser weapon/"rifle fist" and armor. The lyrics strongly reflect and echo the "cold war anxiety"/fear of nuclear arms proliferation and a fascination with weaponry. Lyrics also showed that despite a few lost English translations in some lines, these French-Canadians were embarking on an intellectual vocabulary/use of 1st,2nd and 3rd person perspectives. In concert, the band sported "bullet-belts", "spiked wrist and arm bracelets" & a gas mask that further implemented the "look of war". 

Other characters populated the fictional 'Morgoth' terrain on the "War And Pain" album the "hell-fighting" 'Warriors Of Ice', the "beastial-mech" that breathes carbon and eats children/"rolls on chains"- 'Blower', plus the fighting 'Iron Gang'. They started a fan club of the same name. Shortly after "War And Pain" came out, the reviews were anything but "middle of the metal road". They were called "the worst band in the world"/"total 'Motorhead' and 'Venom' clones from someone at 'Kerrrang!' who I think was convalescing from an earlier "lobotomy" operation! Other more favorable and open-minded reviewers saw a lot of potential in 'Voivod' because musically it was a "radioactive cloud of hard-core hell", "burning metal fallout" and "full on panzer-tank aggro-power". The record sold approximately 70,000 copies worldwide, with German metal fans being totally enthusiastic. Strangely enough, many of the band's friends and neighbors thought they came from Germany/Deutschland/Allemagne. 'Voivod' was soon described as "power/nuclear metal", which was fine with them. They didn't want to be at all lumped into the "black/satanist metal" category, which is pretty limiting. "We're not into Satan" is one of Michel' early quotes ('Metal Mania '87 int). For some odd reason, 'Voivod' was labelled as 'fascists/nazis' because they talked about war and weapons, it seems like this unjust accusation stemmed from the rantings of a simple mind that can't grasp the art of commentary & analysis for which there's no clear position. In December of '84, they recorded a live gig in Jonquiere that would be released as the "Morgoth Invasion" demo. 

Shortly after the 1st lp was recorded,. 'Voivod' gained some international attention from the underground industry and their first official "systems meltdown" (live show outside of Canada) was in the U.S. at 'The Ritz' in NYC supporting 'Venom' et 'Cro-Mags' on April 4th,1985. They came on first and did a forty-minute set which consisted of tracks from "W.A.P" & the soon to be released follow-up. They debuted a new track, "Order Of The Blackguards" which wouldn't appear in a recorded form until early 1987. The crowd of 1500 gave the band a good reaction to their on-set "pyro-technic blast" and combat gear. Unfortunately, 'Voivod's relationship with 'Metal Blade' deteriorated over an incident (ah..the oft told story of bands not getting $$ for records being sold), which resulted as an inspiration for the classic "Fuck Off & Die!) track that would be on album two. They decided to record this next album that would be called 'RRROOOAAARRR...!!!' The concept of this album is that after five to seven nuclear wars, the 'Voivod' becomes a "new-age biomechanical war machine" who trades his primitive weapons for a more sophisticated arsenal. He's the "grand master of purification...Korgull The Exterminator". The The story of 'Korgull': he goes around the top of a large, deep hole where lots of people are held prisoners. Each time they try to get out, it exterminates them. Slowly, the people die of paranoia. The title of the album, 'RRROOOARRR...!!!' comes from the sound this 'Voivod' makes when in motion. The evolutionary concept extends to the bands' own progression in playing. From a reprint of a Danish metal 'zine-'Blackthorn #4/1986', 'Blacky' expands on this: "We think our songwriting has improved and we are better performers than we were on our first album. We worked a lot to improve our musicianship..." This record was a purely aggressive "war campaign" soundwise: The drums "rumble and tumble" into almost "nanosecond-overdrive"/guitars dominate this "infectious landscape"/the "blower bass" sound is missing on this effort because 'Blacky's amp was "nicked", so they had to go with another one. On vocals, 'Snake' totally goes awry with the "near metaphysical/nihilistic blood-lust" on this one! It sounds like they were trying to smash the speed barrier with entries like 'Fuck Off & Die!, 'Thrashing Rage', 'Ripping Headaches' and the "all destruction ahead crash" of 'To The Death!! I totally loved this despite the fact that it's not the best-sounding album they ever did. Being an angry teenager in high school during the "speed-metal crisis" years-mid 80's had it's advantages, I guess. On this record, the band's intro consisted of a "far away" then close-up "death jungle beat" (on the 1st lp, it was "rustling chains and ghostly guitar"). Michel's cover art this time featured the 'Voivod' as a "ruthless, multi-tiered tank of attack with sophisticated weaponry at the ready". The logo design became more intricate as well. In an online interview-March 1999 with jean-Yves, he described the songwriting process between him and D'Amour during those days: "D'Amour was the most technically proficient as far as playing, so we developed a strategy of recording guitar/bass tracks, edit it on recorders/refine and redevelop everything." Langevin did the artwork/concepts on all the albums and worked on lyrical ideas with Belanger. The album was recorded at 'L'Autre' studios in Montreal from October-November 1985. They were signed to 'Noise' Records and did a high school tour of seven towns in the QC province to rehearse their live - appearance. They played at the "World War III Festival" with 'Celtic Frost', 'Possessed', 'Nasty Savage' & 'Destruction'. There were other Quebec bands who existed during the mid 80's "metal riot": 'Aggression' & 'Outrage In Toronto, there was 'Sacrifice', 'Slaughter' (not the shitty U.S "glam-scam" band!), 'Exciter' & 'Anvil'. In Vancouver, BC you had 'Sacred Blade'. 'Voivod' relocated to Montreal permanently and their 1986 U.S./Canada tour with fellow 'Noise'-makers: 'Celtic Frost' & 'Running Wild' (they had a pirate concept?!?) started on 5/17/86 at L'Amours in New York. In the fall, they went to Europe with 'Possessed' & 'Deathrow'. Their 1st U.K. gig was at the 'Camden Electric Ballroom' in London on 11/24/86. They were playing some tracks from the upcoming album that would represent another evolutionary scenario of the 'Voivod', which was recorded in the oppressive (pre-democratic, although that form of government is repressive in a subtle way) climate of Berlin, Germany. The 'No Speed Limit' live demo at 'Le Spectrum', Montreal on 10/12/86(the 2nd night) is put out through the 'Iron Gang' fan club. 

'Voivod' records the third album, 'Killing Technology' in West-Berlin, Germany from Oct-Nov'86. This country was separated into East (Communist side) & West (democratic side). The "Cold War" repressive atmosphere of the political reality seems to have added a whole new dimension to the band's sound while recording at 'MusicLab' with Harris Johns. Production-wise, 'Killing Technology' (in my own opinion) is the best recorded album so far & the instruments become even more individualist! 'Piggy's "bluesy-hardspace/rock chops" and effects are searing, vivid & barbaric! They sound quite clear without being "slick". Michel ('Away') sounds like a true "thunder machine" on this with "beyond the 4/4" double and triple beats drumming, which gets quite thick on songs like: 'Overreaction', 'Tornado', and 'Ravenous Medicine'. 'Blacky's' bass playing evolves into a "shadowy", lumbering hardware "fallen power line" schematic, and 'Snake's unique French-accented "nasally mutant-mech youth undulation /"schizo-patient" screams are even more pronounced. The continuing saga of 'Away's fictional "nuclear-boy" starts with the 'Voivod' becoming a "half-cyborg/half-human misfit" who destroyed 'Morgoth' & while inside it's spaceship, he integrated with the 'Star Wars' defense system which will target Earth. This was a heady mix of science fact and fiction because the Reagan administration were quite serious in their demands for a laser weapons guidance system originating in space?!? The album also reflected the inevitable social catastrophe that develops when high technology improves too quickly to be assimilated into modern society. 'Away' further elaborated on the band's fascination with technology, in an excerpt from 'XXX#19(Mike Gitter's int.'87)- "We are all very much into high-tech things such as space and artificial intelligence and what we choose to talk about is the very dark underside of everything like that." The occurence of natural disasters such as weather disturbances in 'Tornado'-a total "flying debris" of "culominimbus-metal", if there was such a genre! Michel is also fascinated by schizophrenia in the 'Ravenous Medicine' track-one that expresses outrage at animal experimentation/ schizo-people (in a totally nonpreachy way). The lyrics definitely evolved as well due not only to 'Away' and 'Snake writing style, but also the fact that they reside in Canada. They're French-speakers who live in a primarily Anglo-speaking country that receives an influx of American, French, Canadian and English influences (the 'big three' major U.S. networks, CBC, Le Canal, Channel Four, BBC/ITV). Although, quite early in their career being told that "if you're not from California or L.A, forget it!", coming from Canada gives them an unusual perspective. If 'Voivod' came from the U.S.,UK or Germany, it just wouldn't work. The last track 'Cockroaches' represents the insect invasion "after the human war, it's the return of the death swarm" that will dominate after the planet is vaporized. The concept actually came from the bandmates living together for awhile. They did a video for 'Ravenous Medicine' which was banned by the 'MTV-idiots' due to it being "too stark" (in other words, since it wasn't about the cliche "sex, drugs, rnr", and it was intelligent., so those "closed mind" fuckers who run the programming didn't get it!). They toured the U.S. with 'Kreator' and later on it followed into Eurpoe. The full-on aggression of the live shows quickly gained critical attention due to their on-stage "battle rage": The convulsive, tortured "bass machinations" of 'Blacky' meets head on with the throttling "speed of light" thrash-"techplosions" ala 'Piggy'. They were called "The Two-Headed Beast" by their management. 'Snake' had his "shell-shocked" warrior/soldier weaving brief interludes of the world of 'Voivod'. 'Away' plunges into his self-contained full-textured percussive "tank movements". They opened up for 'Exodus' on one '87 tour date. It's quite clear that 'Voivod' was years ahead of where the metal network would eventually go although they made "prog-mutation" influences of punk, classical metal, pure rock-n- roll synergy, and real-alternative "gloom and dancing doom" into their own. Even though the 'Killing Technology' album had just been released in '87, Michel already had a next course of attack for the 'Voivod' ,as taken from a "Metal Mania'87 interrogation session- "He has to go elsewhere, to space because everything on Earth will be deceased around him. I'm already thinking about the fourth album, which could take place in the outer dimension." On some European tour dates, a new song 'Tribal Convictions' from the next album, which wasn't even recorded is played. Their 'Spectrum 87' & 'Brussels, Belgium 11.28.87' live demos are released thru the 'Iron Gang' fan club. Now, it's time to record yet again in Berlin... 

If I may backtrack a bit, the intro to 'Killing Technology' sounds like the reactivation of an onboard missile defense system, complete with a droning, robotic order-"We are connected!" 'Voivod' records it's fourth album, 'Dimension Hatross' at 'Musiclabs' in West Berlin, Germany from December 4th,1987 to January 4th,1988. Harris Johns returns to producing duties along with the band, who also assisted in the mixing. The concept continues with the 'Voivod' in it's own space laboratory seeking to explore the outer dimension. From the liner notes on the album that read: "Inside a giant particle accelerator, a beam of protons travelling at near the speed of light meets a beam of antiprotons moving equally fast in the opposite direction. The protons and mirror-image antiprotons annihilate each other, creating the fiery chaos of a parallel microgalaxy. Experiment one complete, the 'Voivod' goes into that new dimension, meeting different civilisations and psychic entities, extracting knowledge and energy in the eight programs of this project called: Dimension Hatross". This multi-level space epic was 'Voivod's most complex to date, with not only a story centering on the next transmutation of the character but a reintroduction to a new frontier of the unknown that's inhabited by a new cast of "others": 'Experiment'-testing the four basic forces, the 'Voivod' prepares for dematerial-ization into a new psychic "entity" to enter 'Hatross'/ 'Tribal Convictions'-It comes from the sky into contact with primitive beings who mistake 'Voivod' for a God. It asks "Who Is God? Who Is Dog?"/'Chaosmongers'-"high-tech assassin of the future who try to dismantle the crumbling social order/'Technocratic Manipulators'-the 'Voivod' is part of a total "hypno-Orwellian" telescreen reality/'Macrosolutions To Megaproblems'-the turmoil grows and the depression takes over/'Brain Scan'-the "invisible men" discover the 'Voivod's presence and try to capture it/'Psychic Vacuum'-The 'Voivod' goes to war with the energy beings and extract their enormous power and psychic abilities. This is the "beginning of the end", which comes together with the inevitable "self-created molecular diaspora" ("with my psychic power, imploring the quasar...") of the last track, ' Cosmic Drama'. The 'Voivod' decides to destroy this dimension, and escape from that place. Not only was the story/concepts that was created by Michel Langevin (it took three years to complete) a bold step for 'Voivod', it was part of a new type of science-fiction called "cyberpunk" (although this "buzzword" is in and of itself annoying, the truth is,'Voivod' helped to usher in this genre way before it was commonplace). Around the same time, William Gibson's sci-fi novel 'Neuromancer' came out. It too, explored the idea of "microcivilizations" albeit in a more "comic-book hero" pretense. The album cover features the character as a "half-alien machine that resembling a towering generator, stands in front of an eerie afterglow of a bluish-red/ purple fog. The band logo is a little less technical, and musically this was the "supernova" of 'Voivod' albums! They were much further along than what was coming out in 1988, which consisted of "warmed-over thrash basics" for most bands in the metal area. 'Metallica' was losing their "ignition" and most of the punk music had either quelled their rude/youthful energy or assimilated into the boring arena of "maturity". However, 'Slayer' was still burning up the "sulphur" with their "speed-metal malevolence". There was more experimental moodiness, which coupled with classic heaviness turned into what I personally like to call-"Galactic state of mind-metal". The band incorporates so many different areas of music, along with science fiction and fact/philosophy into a "vortex" of something eerily original. The "intro" on this album is like the bombardment of "cosmic x-rays" from a giant machine..first the slow, irradiated humming into a full blast! The structures end "time-warp" signatures became even more theoretically sound formulas. 'Piggy's guitar "riffquakes" and -. "interstellar tremolitions" (effects) take on more of a "space echo" (especially in the beginning moments of 'Experiment',the end of same track and the middle part of 'Macrosolutions to...). 'Blacky's "bass shadow" playing gain character and dimension while 'Away' bangs furious "multiple meteor-beats" and 'Snake' utilizes some truly "nonhuman, cold space-entity"/"flying lord" vocal responses, along with his "mad scientist Voivod-isms" to express the moods of the other "anti-citizens" in 'Dimension Hatross'. Finally, the lyrics focused on 'Voivod's discovery, fear and alienation of this unstable "microuniverse" that created more misery and oppression. The record was released in June for the U.S. During a routine before-tour medical check up, Denis D'Amour was given a diagnosis of cancer. Apparently, he had a small tumor that was growing closely between his brain and optic nerve. To add even further grave implications to this, the doctors warned that if an operation was needed, 'Piggy' would never be able to play guitar again. Of course, this medical drama already freaked out the band who ironic-  ally enough wrote sci-fi oriented songs like 'Ravenous Medicine' and 'Brain Scan'. The band cancelled plans for a summer U.S. tour while 'Piggy' stayed at a Montreal University for two weeks. Luckily, they never had to operate on 'Piggy', but he has to take hormonal pills for the rest of his life because of this. Strangely enough, this tumor was growing for five to eight years in his body and it could only be detected by an x-ray because the symptoms were so subtle, much like a "head cold" ('Metal Mania'-'Voivod': Future Shock...-Mike Gitter/1989). This is also somewhat of a modern medical marvel as well, which increased the weird aura of 'Voivod'. A video for 'Tribal Convictions' that combined intense live clips/computer animation received increased rotation on 'MTV (which basical means they played it more than once). A second video, 'Psychi Vacuum' (featuring a little more concept animation and a sneak peek at the next 'Voivod' face, along with 'Snake' having creature putty on his face, walking "zombie-like" out of a "womb-like" opening with fog surrounding the set) also got airplay. They toured the States in Nov/Dec with support act, 'Violence '(who were decent, mind you but they could never distract you from wanting to say, "fuck it, I wanna see the headliner!) They landed in Houston during a cold December 10th on a gloomy Samedi/Saturday night & I pretty much sat out during 'Violence's set. After their performance I heard the echoey rumblings of what sounds like a 'Guild Heighliner' (this is a 'Dune' reference, so bear with me 'cuz I'm a sci-fi freak!), but it's actually the "Space-Bass" intro, then "swarming purple lights and white fog" (which by any other band would come across as "total geek-rock star cheese", but it works for 'Voivod'!). Four shadowy figures come onto the stage & now, the "high-tech" bass into for 'Overreaction' sends the crowd into an instant "slamming orbit!" On this voyage, they incorporate a 'medley' of 'War And Pain' stuff. They conclude with a spooky cover of "Dead Kennedys'-'Holiday In Cambodia' (they were going to record this for the album, but 'Laaz Rockit' did it already) and 'Batman' theme (which is a bonus track on the cd version. On December 20th-21st, they brought 'Cro-Mags' along to the 'Spectrum' (as a support guest) for a double-nighter. The second night was recorded as the 'A Flawless Structure' demo to reflect the band's synchronous, "machine-like" (but with emotion) live playing. They also did a N.Y show on 12/23/88, again with 'Cro-Mags' at the 'Ritz'. At this time, I heard a bootleg demo of what would be songs off the upcoming saga 'Nothingface'. This concept was partially mentioned by 'Blacky' in a 1988 interview (author and zine unknown) in which "musically, it's along the same lines as 'Hatross', but with more "feeling"...The 'Voivod' will go it's own brain..." 

The next and most introspective step of the long-running 'Voivod' concept finds the character going boldly into where it's never been (and won't ever be the same since) before:it's inner mind/the brain. It becomes a voyage into the different psychological dimensions. Actually, there are several stories that incorporate themes of paranoia personality "split"/schizophrenia and depression, maintained with a science fiction edge. Michel's primary influences were French philosophers, along with 'Don Juan' author Carlos Castenda. In this chapter, the 'Voivod' destroys it's original personality because he thought it was too "weak". He creates other personas and plastic identities, but they feel false. He tries to find the original but it's gone.  He wanders around, feeling that his body is being sucked out by giant machinery, thus he becomes the 'Nothingface'. Although Langevin had a basic explanation behind the songs from 'Nothingface' in a full-page ad (courtesy of their new label 'Mechanic'/MCA) in some metal magazines, he goes into further detail in an excerpt from a Feb/March 1990 int for ('B Side'/Charle Koci)- "The first song is 'The Unknown Knows'...there's this little Indian waiting for the "flying lords", which is a legend I created for U.F.O's. The song is about questions we ask to ourselves; questions without answers. The song 'Nothingface' is about a creature I created...he wonders if his original personality ever existed. He feels that it may have been shut out by the outside world, the world you have to live in which interferes with your inside world. The little guy who doesn't have any arms, legs, eyes, & mouth. He'd like to be part of the outside world but he can't for some reason. The story is about him meeting people who are, in fact himself and who are trying to convince him to make his arms and legs grow, along with his eyes, ears and mouth." The band's early days in Jonquiere, living in the vicinity of the aluminum factory figured heavily into the overall concept of the album, as taken from this additional excerpt: "The aluminum deposit in the smog and grain causes 'Alzheimer's disease, so I'm really worried because my family and friends are living there and the chance of getting 'Alzheimer's disease is really high. So I wrote this concept about these giant factories that look like spiders. They crawl on the planet and dig for aluminum and when there's no more aluminum, they fly off to another planet, like starships ("Missing Sequences'). 'Pre-Ignition' on 'Nothingface' is the story of the robots working inside these giant's about the people losing their legends and their culture because of 'Alzheimer's". 'Voivod' recorded the album at 'Victor' studio in Montreal and mixed it at 'Power Play',New York in late 1989. Glen Robinson produced the album & this "digital coldness" reflected not only the feeling, but Michel's computerized artwork on the cover depicts an odd montage of distorted faces superimposed as background. Michel's face is on a creature with no arms, sitting by a prison cell. The 'Nothingface' image rests in the middle, with smooth valves attached and a couple of personas seem to flow outward. Lyrically, it's the most abstract, obtuse and introverted collaboration yet between the Langevin/Belanger writing team. They also sought the help of a friend, Kiisti Matsuo to help them with the 'Nonsense Project'. Some of the lines read like the complex mantras of turmoil, fatalism and technological mysticism and erratic mania-compression. From the beginning intro that sounds like the 'Voivod' resting within after his previous voyage, with an "electron shell buzz" then a wailing sonar that says, "I'm far from the shore". Then the digital reality sets in, and you are immediately drawn in as an adventurous listener to the profoundly pessemistic view of the world of 'Voivod':An ever-evolving "vampirific-nucleic" creature that knows no 'GOd', yet he's not in total control of his Universe Musically, this album is by far the most brilliant effort that accurately reflected the way real music was supposed to be for the 1990's. Not only is there feeling among the four "sonic-manipulators" who previously went by their 'Black City' monikers: ('Away') Michel Langevin's theoretical drum patterns reflect the cold surface "unreality" of the 'Nothingface' world/('Piggy') Denis D'Amour goes into "parts unknown" with his melancholic-mechanic, and "near-melodic quantum-riffs" and echoes/('Blacky')Jean-Yves Theriault on "bio-bass pulse" whose style is even more distinctive & last but not least, ('Snake') Denis Belanger who navigates between the vocal parameters of this psychological odyssey:from an otherworld of yelping drones to half-evolved "nothing-child" to rebellious "robot-consciousness" raspiness, and finally as the "submerging-shadowself" in the last track 'Sub-Effect'. 'Voivod' also snuck in a bit of a homage to the 'Outer Limits' musical composer Dominic Frontiere with the beginning riffs to the first song. This arrangement could be found as an instrumental soundtrack from a number of episodes. 'Voivod' signed a worldwide recording contract with 'Mechanic'/MCA. The new album yielded a lot of critical acclaim, especially from a 'Village Voice' (N.Y weekly news) music critic who would be in Montreal to see their performance on 'SolidRok-Musique Plus' (a French Canadian cable show). There was supposed to be a video for 'The Unknown Knows' but it got scrapped, instead they did one for their interpretation of the 'Pink Floyd' cover tune 'Astronomy Domine'. This not only satisfied the label geeks who always do a stipulation for newly signed acts for covers, but it became sort of a "hit" for 'Voivod' due to regular airplay(this was largely attributed to the fact that there a lot of the 'Z-Rock' radio stations in the U.S regularly spinning heavier tunes like 'Exodus', 'Slayer', 'Danzig'-when he was worth listening to & others. Since those "halcyon" days, "alternashit" took over!). This song just happened to fit naturally within 'Voivod's "space-noir reputation" because as kids they were totally into the song, although 'Piggy' prefers the live version from 'Ummagumma' that his older brother turned him onto when he was ten years old. The "acid-casualty" aspect of the original song's lyricist Syd Barrett seemed to mirror the fictional concept of the 'Voivod'. It seemed that after struggling in the music industry (which included getting real jobs on occasion such as painting telephone boothes and working in a library) for years, 'Voivod' would finally get the much deserved recognition. Back in Canada, there are two music industries (English and French) that are subsidized by the government. Although the band members are Quebecois, they were looked down upon by other Francophile groups because they sung in English, but their uniqueness left them out of the English industry as well. 'Voivod' did two shows with 'Testament' headlining on 12/16/89 at the 'Warfield Theatre' in San Francisco (which I have a tape of) & 12/17/89 at the 'Santa Monica Civic Center' in Santa Monica. This turned out kinda bad because of a lot of ignorant, closed-mind thrash-metallers who booed them. However, a month later they headlined a major U.S. tour with 'Soundgarden' and 'Faith No More'. For some reason, the Houston show I went to didn't have 'FNM' on the bill, but some low-level "prog-soggy rock" act called 'The Big F'(yeah, it stood for "Fucking dull!"). The sad irony is that, a couple of months later, 'FNM' and 'Soundgarden' had 'Top 40' albums-a sure sign that the American market for heavy music pretty much 'Suck Your Bone!'(a bad pun that couldn't be resisted!). In Canada, the 'Nothingface' album was nominated for both 'Juno' and 'Felix' awards (if your knowledge of Canadian culture is severly limited to 'Molson' beer ads & promos of the 'Argonauts', then it's the Northern version of the 'Grammys' Also, 'Voivod' did a brief Canadian tour with their musical heroes "Rush', which led them to a wide, arena-bound audience. This adventure had only just begun... 

...Uhhh, the "systems-override" in this "undershelter" is beginning to reactivate to "weapons status alert-on", so I must log-out now. By no means is this the end of the 'Voivod Chronicles, but a conclusion to the overview on the early days of the Canadian "chaosmongers". I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to do a proper retrospective from the viewpoint of a longtime listener, and I hope other 'Voivod' fans enjoy these results as well. If you don't like it, well I'll refer you to the 2nd track off the 'RRROOOAAARRR...album (the real fans will know this one!). I'm also a major collector of this band's merchandise: stickers/buttons/shirts/ audio-video concerts/posters/patches...anything! I trade & sell, so send me your lists c/o this publication. Serious 'Vod-heads' only, no flakes/poseurs! 

So Long!.... 



Source Materials 

(1).'Hot Metal Mag'#lO(1989)-Australian magazine 

(2)."Mechanic' Records biography sheet 

(3)."Psychic Predictions From Morgoth"-'Voivod' article/int 'B Side'(Feb-March 1990/Charle Koci) 

(4)."Parlez-Vous Science Fiction?"-Beth Nussbaum,'Metal Mania' 86/87 issue

(5).'XXX'#19-Mike Gitter

(6) . 'Blackthorn'#4(zine from Denmark) 

(7).Main 'Voivod' and http:shmooze. net/voivod and related sites. 

(8)."Voivod:Future Shock!And The Best Of Metal Rock!"-Mike Gitter/'Metal Mania'-1989

(9).'X-D Press' zine#666(last issue-Aout/August '98/'Iron Gang Fan Club')

(10).Interview with Jean-Yves Theriault('Blacky')-Avril/Apri: 4th,1999-Greg Godin(translated by Patrick Denis) 


VOIVOD Facts and Obscurities 

(1).The project known as 'Voivod' began on November 1982 with Michel Langevin, Denis D' Amour and Jean-Yves Theriault. Denis Belanger joined in January 1983. 

(2).'Away' started drumming around 1980-81 because he was fascinated by it as an instrument while going to concerts. 

(3).'Snake' got his moniker from actually impersonating a reptile in a school contest and won a prize. 

(4).Denis D'Amour found Jean-Yves in a club at a DJ booth spinning tunes. Jean-Yves joined 'Voivod', but he didn't play bass. Denis taught Jean-Yves how to play bass guitar. 

(5).Michel's obsession with machines, mechanics and technology began as a result of a near-fatal car accident while being chased by a bully. 

(6).'Voivod' did a mini-tour of seven towns (high schools) around the Quebec province shortly after the recording of the 'RRROOOAAARRR! !!...' album. 

(7).The inspiration for 'Fuck Off & Die!' (from 'RRROOOAAARRR !!!...) came from a dispute with 'Metal Blade' Records. 

(8).'Voivod' was scheduled to play at the 'Christmas On Earth' festival in Leeds,UK(1987), but were unable to since British customs authorities confiscated their equipment. They watched other bands on stage. 

(9).'Away' played drums for the U.S. hardcore band 'Ludichrist'/ when they did a show in Montreal (circa '86 )

(10).The title for 'Overreaction' (from the 1987 album, 'Killing Technology') was formerly 'Uncontrolled Reaction'. 

(11).Besides doing cover songs by 'Raven', 'Judas Priest', 'Budgie', 'Steeler','Motorhead', 'Slayer', 'Pink Floyd' and 'Venom', they also did 'Search And Destroy' by the 'Stooges'. They were supposed to record this track for the 'Pump Up The Volume' film soundtrack but that deal fell through. 

(12).Allegedly, Ed Stasium or Aldo Nova (remember him?!?) was supposed to produce the next album after 'Nothingface' (1989). 

(13).'Voivod' hails from Jonquiere, Quebec-home of the larges aluminum manufacturing plant in North America, with the surrounding "yellow fog/red lake". This site was the inspiration for 'Pre-Ignition' and 'Missing Sequences' (concept tracks from the 'Nothingface' album-1989). 

(14).The "intro" that 'Voivod' used on some shows from the 'RRROOOAAARRR!!!... tour (1986), is from 'The Thing' (John Carpenter's 1982 awesome remake) film soundtrack. 

(15).A rumor I heard (but didn't believe) from a friend in Montreal-when 'Voivod' were in New York during the mixdown of 'Nothingface', 'Blacky' disappeared for two days and came back with a medical scar due to one of his kidneys being removed (was it an "alien abduction"?)

(16).In the early days of 'Voivod', they did mostly covers of 'Sex Pistols' and 'Black Sabbath'. 

(17). 'Voivod' had never made a studio version of 'Anomalies' which appears only on the 'Spectrum 87-Live demo' There's also 30 min of experimental music that was deleted. 

(18).Belanger, D'Amour,Theriault and Langevin's parents gave them $500 each to record 'War And Pain'. 

(19).'Voivod's first was at the 'Ritz' in New York on April 5th,1985. 

(20).The name 'Voivod' was used to describe an ancient bloodthirsty European tribe called 'Voivods' that drank their own people's blood and consumed their flesh. It was in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. 

(21).There was a limited promo track released shortly to promote the 'Nothingface' album, called 'Questionface' that consisted of tape loop manipulations & samples from the August 1989 'Legs McNeil' interview/'Dimension Hatross' album. 

(22).'Away's quote after 'Piggy's stay at a medical facility to treat his tumor: "Flesh and bones are cheap! We should be nothing but psychic entities...things that think but don't exist." 

(23).'Nothingface' was nominated for both 'Juno' and 'Felix' awards. 

(24).Another one of 'Away's' quotes: "Instead of "sex, drugs & rock-n-roll", why not "chess, books & rock-n-roll?" 

(25).Before Jean-Yves became a permanent bassist in 'Voivod' Jean Fortin briefly played, then went on to form a band of his own,' Deaf Dealer'. 

(26).Michel majored in nuclear physics at university, but had to drop out because 'Voivod' was taking more and more time from his studies. 

(27).'Away' had an exhibit of his drawings held in a burnt down church.