Crowbar, Sydney NSW
January 26th, 2019
Supports: Contrive, Head in a Jar and Carbon Black
No one sounds like Voivod. In 1982 in humble Quebec Canada, this band began to carve out their unique sound and imagery, and some thirty fives later, no other bands comes close to their sound. Voivod burst on to the scene supported by Metal Blade in America, and NOISE in Europe in 1984, and they secured their record deal because of their amazingly powerful, and unique sound. The band has influenced countless other artists and they have released some amazing albums across a back catalogue of no less than fourteen. Their latest album The Wake, sees them get back to their roots, but also branch out into some quite different soundscapes, including jazz and fusion. I am sure this album will just keep on improving over time, and sit appropriately alongside the other masterpieces within the bands history.
So to tonight, the legendary Crowbar and the Sydney Metal fraternity. I must say though, I am quite disappointed in the turnout, Voivod deserves better, however, the metalheads present are definitely here to see the masters of thrash, and to pay homage. First up is Carbon Black. I have only seen these guys a few times and they really impressed me tonight. Obviously, a fair amount of people here were familiar with what they played, this is always a good sign, and they definitely did not disappoint the uninitiated. They have a great groove that really locks in, and compliments each of the band member’s strengths. Despite the mix not being the greatest, they were very hard not to get in to. The vocalist was very impressive, moving between a metalcore growl and a “baritoneesque” melodic tone. The drummer was also very crisp, and kept a great pace on the material. These guys are definitely worth checking out.
Head in a Jar were next and they literally go up plugged in, and thrashed out! There was genuine chemistry between the band and they could all play. They reminded me, sound and arrangement wise, at times, of some of the mid-western US thrash movement of the mid to late 1980s, especially Acrophet. However, the subject material of songs really did lose me, reminding me of Mucky Pup and bands of this ilk, but maybe I just didn’t get the joke. A band with a lot of potential and I look forward to following their progression. Next up, Contrive. Now these guys have been around for a while, since 1999, but I have only seen them play once before, so I was looking forward to their set. They have a really crisp sound and play with, what I would call, and with no disrespect, a very controlled and calculated intensity. These guys are no way loose and they lend themselves to thrash metal, but with real artistry. The only concern is that the band only consists of two members, singer/guitarist and a drummer, and for me it was hard to connect with a duo on a stage set up for band. As I stated, they can play but I, along with a lot of the room, struggled to make a connection.
Voivod hit the stage around 10:45pm and the intensity in the room lifted, and so it should. The band hit the stage and the sound was great, raw, fresh, loud and fast. I was really impressed by the skill of newer members, Chewy (guitar) and Rocky (bass). They are very accomplished musos and their sound is so suited to Voivod. I know Chewy has been quite instrumental in the direction of the songwriting of late and it works so well; incidentally he has had an accomplished career before joining the band. The newer material that went over really well tonight were Obsolete Beings, I Conspiracy and Orb Confusion and was direct proof that the new material nestles authentically in to the back catalogue.
Snake was fantastic up front, I have always admired his no holds barred attitude, and the fact that there is no ego trip or agenda. He lives and breathes this band and this comes through in his performance tonight, as well as his ability to engage the audience. Away was amazing, he is a very talented drummer, playing on a somewhat small kit, and he just held the show together; as he has done for over thirty years.
As strong and engaging as the new material is it was fantastic to hear the tunes that defined the band’s sound in the 1980s, songs such as ‘Ravenous Medicine’ from Killing Technology, the awesome ‘Voivod’ from their debut War and Pain and the sole encore, Astronomy Divine from Nothing Face, were amazing, and really outlined why this band is just so important. No one could seriously be disappointed with this setlist, but I know that it is impossible to please everyone.
I really did walk away from tonight feeling very satisfied and pumped to finally see a band that first so intrigued me, and then I fell in love with, over thirty years ago and my only criticism was that the band needed a longer set; and this could have been achieved with one less support. Voivod’s music has certainly stood the test of time and it is heartening to know that with the current line-up, they are still carving their own unique sound and presence within a carbon copy industry. I know there should have been a lot more people here tonight, but the consolation of this, is that no one walked away disappointed, and all of their mates will be spewin when they hear how amazing this band really was.
Gig Review by Mark Snedden
Revisit our interview with Voivod‘s Michel “Away” Langevin right here
Photo Gallery courtesy of Mick Goddard (MickG Photography)
Please credit Wall of Sound and Mick Goddard if you repost.
Head in a Jar