The Psyke Project
Beta, Copenhagen, DEN - 18/5
author EW date 07/10/12 venue Garage, London, UK
For all those teenage years I spent the overwhelming majority of my available income on hoovering up every great 80's thrash record, the one band to slip my net were progressively-minded Canadians Voivod. So after a decade in which all their peers have become so ingrained in my psyche as to be a part of me, I find myself seeing Voivod live for the first time at an undersold Garage still without a full appreciation of their varied and unique discography, but first, came Doom...
Due to family commitments I can only reach the Garage in time to catch the last song of Serpent Venom, one of London's rising doom acts with a heavy classic sound to their name and a solid devotion to the cause of slow. So it falls to Birmingham's seminal crust punk act Doom to invigorate me on a dark Sunday evening, which they proceed to in apologetically straightforward fashion despite my only brief acquaintance with them in the run-up to the show. Knowing they are akin to Discharge is good enough for me, but unlike their Brummie mates at this spring's Boltfest gig they make a better impression of their short and snappy politically charged songs, belting out one punk-infused riff after another in the knowledge that such a band cannot possibly recreate their 80's youthful Thatcherite anger many years down the line. Still, without any great movement on stage and frontman Denis delivering a hoarse monotone shout with little deviation, Doom still kick in all the proverbials and show how the socio-political anger of 1980's Britain still lives on in those old enough to have known it. Come the end of their 30-minute set I was feeling a tinge of glee to have seen both Discharge and Doom within a few months as the history lesson that is listening to their music reveals their significant influence on much extreme metal and was a great introduction to the more complex world of Voivod.
One of those influenced by the likes of Doom were Voivod, with whom a smattering of progressive and punk metal influences, a healthy dollop of sci-fi subject matter and no lack of instrumental skill over the past 31 years has ensured a justifiable legendary status. Playing to fewer than might have been expected thanks to Overkill's conflicting show just down the road, Snake, Away, Blacky and Chewy still displayed considerable pleasure at those who had turned up and the warm appreciation that was given by those near the front at every opportunity, with chants of 'VOIVOD! VOIVOD!' heard in every lull between songs.
As the man required to fill the shoes of the dearly departed Piggy, Chewy cuts a figure cool as ice on guitar knowing the unique nature of Voivod's discordant riffs and rhythms rest considerably on his skills. Positioned to the right of the beaming Snake, who is not hesitant in exposing Voivod's pleasure at playing to London again, he does all that he can and more to ensure the band is not playing solely on legacy and the vibrancy of the band continues. On bass Blacky is particularly emphatic towards Doom watching side of stage, and on drums, Away, hammers away in a very different mood to the average thrash drummer as befitting such a band.
Interspersed with the title track of upcoming LP "Target Earth" (due early 2013) and "Mechanical Mind", which kept the form of valuing the progressive elements over outright thrash, were songs from across their history, including "Ripping Headaches" , "Nothingface", "Tribal Convictions" and naturally "Voivod", to open. In effect through having a patchwork knowledge of the band's 12 albums not all tracks were washed down so easily but I would like to hereby claim that be mostly down to a Sunday evening tiredness. Fully confident Voivod are doing no harm to the legacy of their sound or history I returned home from the gig with an air of positivity - two previously unseen (old) bands and with two rousing performances to boot. Not a bad return.
All photos courtesy of Teodora Dani Photography