|Classic Review: Voïvod - Angel Rat|
Label: MCA Records
Year released: 1991
Review online: April 24, 2003
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 3.88/5 (77.5%) (24 Votes)
Seeing Michel’s review of the new Voivod got me in the mood to listen to the old Voivod, so here we go, number six in the ouvre of this relentlessly weird Canadian band.
"Angel Rat" is the most commercial of their albums, and also one of the strangest. With major-label support from MCA and a big-name producer in Terry Brown (Rush, Fates Warning) Voivod were poised for big things here. Unfortunately this was 1991, and the bottom was about to drop out of the market for all things metal, thanks to Cobain and Co. So this fine CD got kind of forgotten. "Angel Rat" suffers from being too individual and idiosyncratic for its own good – not metal enough for the metal crowd, too completely weird for the mainstream. Nevertheless this is one of Voivod’s finest moments, second only to the defining "Nothingface" in my humble opinion.
The style here is less a departure from "Nothingface" than a refinement. With this album Voivod stepped firmly over the line from the punky, thrashy metal they had started out playing and into more laid-back prog territory. "Angel Rat" is both catchier and more melodic than its predecessor, also moodier and less aggressive. It occurs to me that if you have never heard Voivod that won’t mean much to you, but I can’t begin to describe their sound accurately. Complex time signatures, shimmering Alex Lifeson-tinged guitarwork and Snake’s melodic croon combine to form a unique and strange progressive sound. Unless you’ve heard Voivod, you can’t really quite imagine how they sound, as nobody else has ever sounded like them.
There is a lot to like here. "Panorama" and "Clouds in My House" are, sweeping, almost anthemic tunes in the vein of "The Unknown Knows", only more melodic. There are also classic Voivod cuts like the title track and "Golem". The last four songs on the CD kind of run together, all of them mellow and kind of meandering.
The look of the CD package is great, with fine art and design by drummer Michel Langevin as always. He has a really cool artistic style, very unique and perfectly suited to the music. The picture on the inside of the booklet of the tarantula pulling the wagon with the staring figure inside has always given me the creeps. Very, very cool.
After "Nothingface" Voivod would have never been able to fulfill everyone’s expectations, but this album deserved better than it got. While not the masterpiece its predecessor was, this album stands firmly in second place in the Voivod catalogue.
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