Released: 2006, The End Records
Voivod are back with their 14th studio album entitled KATORZ. This is something that us fans are very grateful for considering the foreknowledge that this is the beginning of the end of new material that was recorded (as demos) by Denis “Piggy” D'Amour prior to his death. As everyone by now knows, the sad news of Piggy’s death hit us back in late August of 2005. The only good thing we can take from that unfortunate event is that Piggy left numerous demo recordings for his bandmates to finish off and assemble. When all was said and done they announced they possibly had enough for THREE albums! So here we have the first of that material in the form of KATORZ.
One reason for comparing KATORZ to NOTHINGFACE is producer Glen Robinson who was on board for the new album. There are slight similarities to that album, which is a good thing for me, since NOTHINGFACE is by far my favorite VoiVod album. There are also similarities to their previous album, the 2003 self-titled, which took the VoiVod sound into a more approachable territory. If you blend those two albums together, you’ll have an idea of what KATORZ delivers. There are nods to other albums with certain parts of songs, and of course the end result of this is something that although familiar, is also new and as always...innovative.
In terms of the album’s sound, one thing I noticed right away is the bass. Not often is that something that stands out in metal, but Jason’s playing and tone on this album are great and far better than what was on the self-titled VoiVod album. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Jason sound this good! The drumming is also topnotch with loads of interesting playing, timings, fills, etc. Away really is one under-rated drummer whose brilliant playing is some of the best you’ll hear. One improvement on here is Snake’s vocals. He sounds more like his old self on KATORZ than he did on the self-titled album which marked his triumphant return to the VoiVod line-up. Snake is able to perfectly use melody along with his sneering and pissed of vocal styles to create a style that is instantly recognizable. Piggy’s actual demo guitar tracks from his computer were re-amped for KATORZ and they’ve done a great job as the rhythm sound is great. It’s wild how they did that and maintained such a full guitar sound and are able to thereby keep him as a part of the band, and not just as a song writer. Clean guitars are missing on the new album which is too bad, perhaps that is something Piggy would of added along with his cool guitar delay effects that he was a master of. Surprisingly, there are some solos and lead guitars on here, although there could of perhaps been a little more. That said, I am hardly complaining. What the band has managed to do is simply stunning. I’m sure Piggy would be more than pleased with KATORZ and with what the band has accomplished.
In terms of the music on KATORZ, the first songs that grabbed me were the more punk/thrash-ish “The Getaway”, “Odd & Frauds”, and the first online released single “The X-Stream”. There is something on here for everyone. Songs that on the previous self-titled seemed to drift on are nowhere to be found as every song on here is vibrant and leaves its mark. “Dognation” has some of the classic VoiVod elements with the weird chords that became a part of Piggy’s signature style. This one offers a seamless blending of Voivod styles even with a few sections that take you back to the chaos of something from DIMENSION HATROSS. “After All” has some interesting timing parts at the beginning over some choppy rhythm playing before it builds up sounding very much like the VoiVod we know. The intro to “Silly Clones” also sounds like classic VoiVod, Newsted’s playing and sound really fill things up...impressive. Parts of the album closer, “Polaroids”, sounds very much like NOTHINGFACE material. I could rave on about every song on here as all the songs are great, but let’s leave something for you to discover when you buy the album this summer!
KATORZ is not only an excellent album, but serves as a tribute to the undying memory of one of Canada’s best musicians, Piggy. The only bittersweet thing is that the band will not likely be able to take this material on the road and play it for us live. We can celebrate that we do have this new album, and that there are more albums to come along with DVOD2, the follow up to their recent DVOD1 DVD!