Voivod (singer Denis “Snake” Belanger, guitarist Denis “Piggy” d’Amour, drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, and bassist Jean-Yves “Blacky” Theriault) were one of the first thrash bands from Canada to gain popularity outside of their home country. From their beginnings in the early ’80s, their main goal was to be different from anyone else, and thus they incorporated odd musical tempos and futuristic story lines into their songs, often dealing with technology taking over the world. With their unique style of performing and writing, Voivod opened the way for other Canadian thrash and metal bands.
Such early releases as 1984’s War and Pain and 1986’s Rrröööaaarrr showed that the quartet was aligned with the then up-and-coming thrash metal movement (Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax), eventually letting their prog rock influences (Pink Floyd, Rush, King Crimson) seep in on 1987’s Killing Technology and 1988’s Dimension Hatröss. By the time of their major-label debut for MCA, 1989’s Nothingface, Voivod had perfected their thrash metal/prog rock style, resulting in the most commercially successful release of their career — spearheaded by a video for their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine” (which enjoyed airings on MTV’s Headbangers Ball) and a headlining club tour over a pair of bands that would soon change the landscape of alt-rock by the early ’90s, Soundgarden and Faith No More.
But just as it appeared that Voivod might be able to break through to a wider audience, Theriault left the group right after the release of 1991’s Angel Rat, as the album quickly sank from sight while the rest of the rock world focused its attention on the burgeoning alt-rock/Seattle movement.
The Outer Limits followed two years later, followed shortly thereafter by Belanger’s exit from the band. By the mid-’90s, Voivod’s lineup had been scaled down to a trio — newcomer Eric Forrest doubled on vocals and bass, resulting in such releases as 1995’s Negatron and 1997’s Phobos. The odds-and-ends compilation Kronik and the live set Lives saw release in 2000. In early 2001, the remaining members decided to call it a day when Forrest departed. The band reunited later that year with Belanger back on board; they also enlisted a new bassist, Jason Newsted, formerly of Metallica, resulting in the eponymous Voivod album.
In August of 2005, guitarist “Piggy” d’Amour succumbed to complications from colon cancer. The band was in the middle of recording a new album; on his deathbed, he instructed his bandmates on how to complete his contributions to the band’s forthcoming offering, Katorz, which arrived in 2006. Piggy left numerous songs and arrangements for another album on his laptop. In 2009, Voivod took those demos, guitar parts, and arrangements and structured the album Infini from them, without editing, re-recording, or overdubbing his guitar.
The band toured the album across Europe, Japan, and North America with Martyr’s Daniel Mongrain on guitar. A 2009 show at Montreal’s Club Soda featuring members Belanger, Langevin, Mongrain, and (returning) bassist “Blacky” Theriault, was recorded; it was eventually released as Warriors of Ice on Sonic Union Metal in 2011.
Voivod released their thirteenth studio album, Target Earth, in January of 2013.