1988 Creem Magazine article / interview
Quebecs Voivod is the next step for metal. Owing allegiance to no set formula, the French Canadian four-piece is breaking all the rules with power and originality to spare.
Voivod remain distinctive among the bulk of speed outfits with a brutally fresh attack that can only be described as Voivod music. And what is Voivod music? High-tech metal that’s always evolving.
Guitarist Piggy is a viciously original player, churning forth aural devastation on their recently-released Killing Technology LP (Noise). Bassist Blacky and drummer Away keep the rhythms driving and power-charged as vocalist Snake, poking a lively tongue at thrashing audiences, lives up to his reptilian namesake.
Away, who also spends a considerable amount of time on artwork (three examples of which grace the band’s three full-length albums) developed the Voivod concept before their formation in 1982. Applying the myth of the Voivods (a legendary 14th century European cannibal tribe known for their ruthlessness and drinking of the blood of their enemies) to present-day technology, limitless possibilities were born. “I admire their warrior’s strength and cunning,” says Away through a heavy French accent, “so I took this warrior and made him a nuclear warrior with atomic weapons.
“I had many bad feeling about this planet,” he continues, “I wasn’t happy to live here so a created a world of my own, the Voivod world. The world is the result of my bad feelings about technology and its bad nature, which includes things like nuclear war. The character of the Voivod can take many images including those of schizophrenia or paranoia. He is a superhero figure that can be very good or very bad.”
Over the course of three albums—War And Pain (Metal Blade), RRRRROOAAAR (Noise) and Killing Technology—both their music and their concept have been developing. From the first album’s speedy, unrefined power-charge to Killing Technology’s ruthless originality, Away and crew have been evolving as they discuss the war long ravaging the fantasy land of Morgoth, the kingdom of ice.
“The three albums are all part of the Voivod evolution,” says Away. “They tell the story of Voivod and all the characters in the Voivod land of Morgoth. There are the warriors of ice, Korgull, who is pictured on the cover of RRRRROOAAAR, the Black City where Korgull the destroyer lives, as well as many other characters as well.”
Influenced by Motorhead initially and later by punk bands such as the Sex Pistols, GBH and Die Kreuzen, the sound of Voivod isn’t easily pigeonholed. Away even goes so far as to count industrial outfits such as Germany’s premier crash-and- burn notables Einsturzende Neubauten and New York’s Swans as influences. “We’ve always been somewhat different and have always listened to many different things,” says Away. “I guess you could even call us a punk/metal band.” While standard black metallists scream and rage praises to Beelzebub, Voivod concern themselves with the potential hells on Earth.
In their French-Canadian accents, the band is screaming desperate cries against the terrible potential of technology and science. Nuclear war has always been a subject for the band since War And Pain, a record that depicted a post-holocaust world after a number of atomic conflicts. “The cover of Killing Technology shows how man allows technology to get out of control,” says Away. “He has destroyed the Earth and is moving out into space to fight and destroy even more. There’s a lot of hardcore bands that use images of war to protest, but we use them to describe our feelings on the chaos of life on this planet.”
To Away and crew, images of death, destruction, oppression and violence that creep into their musical vision are mere protests against a world gone mad. They are quite often expressions of hostile, angry feelings. “We use the images but we don’t quite say whether the are right or wrong,” says the thickly accented drummer. “So, unfortunately people have come to say that Voivod are violent Nazis, which isn’t true. We use images of oppression or mental disorder to express feelings. When you look at the cover of War And Pain, you see war and pain, which is a reaction.”
“We see nuclear war as the real hell,” says Away, his band more immersed in the brutality of technology gone mad than “Dungeons and Dragons” fantasy. Live shows find the band emerging through mushroom clouds that herald Voivod’s destructive execution. Completing the picture Snake often comes into the scene with his face encased in a gasmask, portraying the cold, unfeeling insanity of barbarous conflict.
Killing Technology doesn’t just limit it’s scope to the destructive potential of nuclear war. Technological travesties including the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, the potential China crisis and the threat of Star Wars missile defense system are all ominous possibilities. As Canadians residing close to the initial line of detection for possible incoming Soviet missiles aimed at U.S. targets, the Star Wars project is of tremendous concern to young Canadians such as Voivod.
“As far as Star Wars goes, if the Americans aren’t the first to do it, someone else will,” says Away. “But we feel that we have the right to discuss and put out our feelings on the subject.”
Head and shoulders above the run-of-the-mill thrash-o-mats, Voivod are metal’s next generation. Musically and lyrically, they stand far above most in the pure intelligence of their raging assault. While many have become bored with the host of Metallica/ Slayer clones, Voivod are opening a new realm of possibilities. To quote their own motto: “To the death!!!”.