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Released: 1997, Hypnotic
Reviewer: Casey (Guest Writer)
Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of MASTER OF PUPPETS, POWERSLAVE or SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
PHOBOS is the ninth studio album from renowned progressive/thrash metal band Voivod and delivers all the hardcore experimental sounds that fans have come to expect. While this album might not be quite what purists and longtime fans of only the most traditional forms of metal are looking for, PHOBOS brings some excitement and diversity in a sub-genre that can often be seen as quite uniform.
In this album, Voivod use a variety of industrial, electronic and sci-fi noises to create a very strong sense of atmosphere. Several shorter tracks, such as "Temps Mort" (Death Time), are purely instrumental and serve to develop the desolate ambiance prevalent throughout the entire album, leading smoothly from one song to another. Lyrics are used sparingly, but those present are bleak and cynical, and underlying feelings of anger and injustice give the idea that the album is essentially a work of protest. Rail against society as it may, make no mistake, this album is about as far from peaceful protest sing-a-long as you can get. One of the heaviest tracks is "M-Body", boasting an incredible intensity which is sustained throughout the entire song. It is also the most vocal heavy track, showcasing Eric Forrest's harsh vocals (even through the distortion) and his great contribution to the band in his short time there.
Most of the songs begin with an eerie electronic soundscape, making for a slow build-up in each of the tracks but clearly highlighting their progressive rock influences - "Mercury" in particular has strong elements of Pink Floyd coming through. What makes PHOBOS so good is the way this industrial, progressive aspect is balanced so well with more traditional thrash metal. Each track regularly changes pace and tone, keeping every moment interesting. The only constants are the heavy guitar riffs and growly vocals - something which certainly calls for no complaint here.
Voivod also do a cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" on the album, one of several well-received covers they've done over the course of their career. This one is a particularly faithful track, sticking reasonably true to the original sound while still offering its own interesting spin - the vocals, while different, suit the style excellently.
Overall, PHOBOS is a varied, well rounded album which features many of the key elements long term fans have come to love. Voivod are a choice band for those looking to get into progressive metal and just a few listenings to the album in its entirety are sure to make fans of most people.
21st Century Schizoid Man
Eric Forrest - Bass Vocals
Denis D'Amour - Guitar
Michel Langevin - drums
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