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Celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, Canadian progressive sci-fi metal innovators VOIVOD are pleased to announce a release date of September 21st, 2018 for their …

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Home » 1990s Pics, Press & Interviews

1992.03 Guitar Player Magazine Interview

Submitted by on March 15, 1992 – 9:05 pm

1992.03 Guitar Player Magazine
Voivod: Sci-Fi Thrashers Return To Earth
by Tom Mulhern

EVEN IF YOU MISSED Voivod’s early speed metal works and became aware of the band tbrough 1989’s Nothingface, you’re well acquainted with the progressive-edged Montreal metal band’s penchant for dissonance, dark, post-apocalyptic sci-fi themes, and raw but sophisticated rhythms and arrangements. And you’ll immediately notice that their fifth album, Angel Rat, is a radical departure from their intricate, conceptual style. “Some of our songs were so complex that it just took the listener away,” says guitarist Denis D’Amour. “Performing them live you don’t feel like you’re part of the show. You’re too busy with all the details.”

D’Amour, 32, cut his teeth on Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad before turning on to Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, and European groups like Birth Control and Nektar. At 18, he began three years of violin training in a local music college, and in the early ’80s he zigzagged into metal when he was introduced to Saxon, Budgie, and Angel City. D’Amour (a.k.a. Piggy) and drummer Michel Langevin (a.k.a. Away) already knew each other from school, and they enlisted former DJ Jean-Yves Theriault (a.k.a. Blacky) on bass and Denis Belanger (a.k.a. Snake) on vocals. Basing the music on Langevin’s concept of “the Voivod,” a creature living in a post-nuclear world, the band recorded its first album, War And Pain, on Metal Blade in June 1984. With subsequent albums RRooaarr, Killing Technology, and Dimension Hatross, Voivod reached an ever-increasing audience and toured with Celtic Frost, Kreator, Soundgarden. and Faith No More. Their first Mechanic Records release, the breakthrough Nothing face, earned them nominations for both Juno and Felix awards in Canada, and helped them snag an opening slot with Rush for their Canadian tour. Nothingface’s centerpiece was a remake of Pink Floyd’s pulsating “Astronomy Domine,” a Syd Barrett tune from Floyd’s 1967 debut masterpiece, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. Its eerie intro consists of Denis’ guitar processed into cut-up staccato blips by a Yamaha SPX90 with its noise gate engaged. “I just went crazy scratching the chords very fast,” he explains. “I was trying to simulate what the keyboard did on Pink Floyd’s album.”

Denis’ main guitar is a Liberatore (made in Montreal), a Strat-like solidbody with a through-body maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, a two-piece alder body, an Ibanez tremolo, a DiMarzio Distortion humbucker in the lead position, and an Ibanez Roadstar’s single-coil in the rhythm spot. He runs his signal into a Marshall 9000 preamp that feeds the effects loop returns on his modified Marshall JCM 800 heads, bypassing everything but their power amplifiers. These drive a pair of Marshall 4×12 slant-front cabinets. His effects include two Yamaha SPX90s, a DigiTech 1PS-33B Intelligent Pitch Shifter, and an old Ihanez. DM-1100 digital delay (“a real dinosaur, but it really does great chorusing”). To control his effects, he built a pedalboard using the housings and switches from demolished Boss pedals. A cable runs from the pedalboard to his rack, and he turns every thing on and off at the stomp of a foot. “I try not to use too much overdrive, so you can hear chords well. I set the preamp’s presence full, and get plenty of distortion for my taste. If I play a solo, I hit the overdrive pedal to get more sustain and tone.”

After touring the U.S. and Europe with new bassist Pierre St. Jean, and a scheduled appearance on Canadian TV in late 1991, D’Amour expects the band to settle into the studio for the spring of ’92 to work on their next album. “We were shocked by our success,” D’Amour says, adding slyly, “and we’re very happy now!”

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