Retro Fit: VOIVOD – Negatron (1995)

negatron1I have a vivid memory of driving down Victoria Park Ave. in Toronto with former M.E.A.T Magazine colleagues Drew Masters and Adrian Bromley, with Masters taunting us with a game of “Name That Singer” as he gleefully seared our eardrums with the newest promo CD in his disc-changer. Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit I couldn’t even figure out who the band was even though the shred and clatter of the music was so obviously Voivodian (read: very Canadian, like beer and hockey). I blame it on the vocals, which were brutally over-the-top both for Voivod and the guy providing them, Eric Forrest, who cut his teeth on the Toronto club scene as a straight-ahead rocker with Thunder Circus and Liquid Indian. Considered something of a return to War And Pain form following the exceedingly brilliant and insanely progressive Outer Limits album (see ‘Jack Luminous’ for proof), Negatron was a controlled burst of cyber-thrash that younger fans found hard to digest, while many old schoolers revelled in it. The album still holds up all these years later, standing loud and proud and well away from the glut of soulless, digitized present day bands that think “heavy” comes out of the can labelled “Pro-Tools”. Sure, it was a studio production, but it’s still kinda hard to believe only three guys could make this much noise. Drummer Away and guitarist Piggy were in fine form, putting many of the familiar Voivod tangents and detours on the backburner in favour of a point blank thrash record without losing that sense of off-kilter musical genius. Forrest, meanwhile, successfully wiped out his prettyboy image with a scathing nigh-on-death metal vocal delivery that became a band trademark, which he inevitably and thankfully carried over to E-Force. Easily one of my favourite Voivod albums to date, and I find that I like it more and more with each spin, just like the first time around.

Fave tracks: ‘Cosmic Conspiracy’, ‘Insect’, ‘Reality?’, ‘Meteor’, ‘Project X’