Voivod - Nothingface
Noise Records
Progressive Metal
9 songs (44:31)
Release year: 1989
Voivod, Noise Records
Reviewed by Goat

Following up the classic Dimension Hatröss, Canada’s finest musical export since Rush proved their sheer capability by taking even further steps down the prog road. It’s testament to the band’s skills that they could create another masterpiece less than a year after their previous one, and make it a very distinct album at that. The sci-fi Nothingface is far from a repeat of its predecessor, moving even farther away from the driven Thrash intensity and towards the melodic prog metal that they would become known for. Technicality rules the day, combined with an intelligent songcraft that makes for nine very different tracks that work together perfectly to create the sort of album that you can return to again and again. The Thrash elements are almost gone completely, although you can hear faint traces in some of Piggy’s more aggressive riffs, the man as usual a complete and utter god. If you need a good excuse to listen to this album, then remember that this is the work of one of the most underrated guitarists in metal, intense and experimental like never before whether cranking out the distinctly odd riffs or indulging in one of his signature solos, constantly and capably backed by his bandmates.

Of course, Nothingface is not an album keen to give its secrets away after a single listen. Complex and off-kilter, the songs never do what you expect them to do but have a strange catchiness to them even from the very first listen. It’s not Jazz or Classical, but some weird invention of their own, taking the traditional metal elements and twisting them into a futuristic creation that is Voivod through and through. The Unknown Knows is often cited as one of the best songs here (although all are great) and it’s not hard to see why, the melodic chorus and infectious riff patterns discernable from the go, and the track as a whole keeps on giving however many listens you give it, ending on an intriguing swing which fades away before you really get into it. You’re kept constantly on your toes, the band never letting the listener settle into deceptively simple-seeming songs before suddenly pulling out the ground from under them – the title track’s sudden lurches into speed one good example.

If there’s a signature song here, it’s Astronomy Domine, a Metalled-up version of the Pink Floyd classic, and a suitably psychedelic pounder that comes damn close to bettering the original. As a tribute, it works without question, and as the third song on the album it’s a risk that pays off for Voivod, fitting in perfectly with the surrounding songs and proving the band’s skills. Heck, the creepy quietness of the start of following track Missing Sequences feels like a natural progression from the track before, and the upbeat melody that it builds into is arrived at through a perfectly enjoyable and seamless process. Don’t underestimate the sheer progressiveness of Nothingface, whatever you do – as subtle as the band are in their experimentation, the experimentation is still a vital part of their sound. Voivod are masters at taking the listener along with them, never becoming tiresome or dull. The opening riff exchanges of X-Ray Mirror are very catchy, and the following quirky build towards an infectious chorus sticks in your head. Whether it’s Pre-Ignition’s diversity or Sub-Effect’s sombre melody, you’re guaranteed a deep and intelligent listen.

It’s a perfectly composed album, as a whole. Progressive Metal these days is as much about the stolen Dream Theater sound as it is actually advancing the genre that we all know and love – yet back in 1989, Voivod struck out for pastures futuristic without a care or concern, and that this is still one of the best albums of the genre speaks volumes. Although it was a hard decision, I have to say that Nothingface is my favourite album from the Canadians, narrowly surpassing even the excellent Dimension Hatröss due to the greater prog elements and the more out-there nature of it as a whole – you should own both, and indeed any metalhead who doesn’t has a large gap in his collection. Absolutely classic.

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Voivod that we have reviewed:
Voivod - The Wake reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Voivod - Target Earth reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Voivod - Warriors Of Ice reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Voivod - Negatron reviewed by Goat and quoted 72 / 100
Voivod - The Outer Limits reviewed by Goat and quoted 91 / 100
To see all 14 reviews click here
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