2009 was a crucial year for Voivod. Its Infini album contained the last new music left by late founding guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour (the songs were assembled from riffs and demos off his hard drive; the band left his parts as they were). Also, bassist Jason Newsted left the ranks soon after its release. Vocalist Denis "Snake" Belanger" and drummer Michel "Away" Langevin were convinced they needed founding bassist Jean-Yves "Blacky" Theriault to return to the fold, and convinced him to do so. Further, they needed a suitable -- not merely adequate -- guitarist to replace their fallen, de facto leader. They recruited Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain of Martyr. Warriors of Ice is a live gig recorded at a club at home in Montreal; it showcases not only the band's recorded history, but their continued commitment to inventive, high-energy "progressive thrash metal." They had everything to prove here. The set list, much of it taken from the band's early years (roughly 1984-1991) makes that evident. While the two songs from Infini, "Global Warning" and "Treasure Chase," are excellent, they don't quite get to the intensity level of the re-creations of earlier material. Check out "Voivod" and "Ripping Headaches" from Rrröööaaarrr and War and Pain, respectively. These versions still contain an energy that equals old-school hardcore punk as it met Motörhead's early off-the-rails heavy metal. The thunderous tom-toms that introduce "Tribal Convictions" (originally on Dimension Hatröss) with a war chant from Belanger and the audience, give way to a stop/start syncopation that is more progressive and grinding, but exquisitely intense as it builds. "Tornado" (Killing Technology) is over the top, fueled by crashing tom-toms, skewed, dissonant power guitar riffs, and throbbing in-the-red bassline, yet every growled word Belanger sings can be heard clearly in this excellent mix. The title track from Nothingface is a blazing, twisted, angular ball of pure heat. "Panorama" resurrects the early Motörhead comparisons again with a chugging, manic energy. The ten-second guitar solo by Mongrain speaks volumes. Warriors of Ice wraps up with two classics: a stellar version of "Nuclear War" from the band's debut album, and a far from de rigueur cover of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine." For longtime fans, this set is an essential addition to the catalog; Mongrain proves worthy as the only logical replacement for D'Amour. For the uninitiated or curious, this is thrash metal at its very best.
|Label:||Sonic Unyon Metal|