Artwork by Away

Before reviewing the new Voivod record, I revisited its back catalogue. Angel Rat and The Outer Limits are tremendously underrated. I have owned both, but never truly appreciated them until now. Perhaps I bought into the conventional wisdom of "first x albums good, everything later bad." Perhaps my ears just weren't ready. Voivod was always ahead of its time.

Le Pont Noir

One song from The Outer Limits felled me this time around. "Le Pont Noir" - what an epic! It opens with naked clean guitar and rare rimshots by drummer Away. Singer Snake tells an eerie tale of going down to a bridge, not knowing what he'll find. (See lyrics here.)

I'm going to the bridge tonight
Venus shines so ever bright
Deep in the woods under the stars
How did I come to get this far?
Have this feeling...what will I find
Around the corner of my mind?< />

At 1:35 comes a skull-shattering mindfuck of a harmony. Is guitarist Piggy using a harmonizer, or is he twisting this tapestry by hand? Sharps and flats spiral upwards, as Snake emits an otherworldly wail. On Crack the Skye, Mastodon attempted similar abstraction, but with half the class. This presentation is bare and huge - less is more.

The song's latter half is a dodgy funk bit. What were these white boys thinking? But the song rights itself. First a hectic doubletime, then an abyssal halftime, then the original clean guitar, returning the way it came. In five minutes and 43 seconds, one has traversed hours. If not for the next track, they could last forever.

- Cosmo Lee