Review
Voivod
Katorz

The End (2006) Kevin Fitzpatrick

Voivod – Katorz cover artwork
Voivod – Katorz — The End, 2006

As tragic as it was, the death of founding member and guitarist Dennis "Piggy" D'Amour in 2005 was not the death of Voivod. The final nail in the coffin was hammered with the departure of Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault fifteen years ago. Although songwriting and arrangements were always credited to the band as a whole, the void left in the overall sound of the band was something seemingly unable to be filled.

This is the point of the review where after a dramatic three spaces down it should read:

...until now.

Sadly, this is not the case. I would like nothing more than to say that this is an album worthy of the legacy bestowed on D'Amour and his bandmates - a posthumous tribute to an extraordinarily talented guitarist whose tracks were recorded in his final days before losing a long battle with cancer, but no. The sad, sad fact is Katorz is just another in a seemingly endless line of uninspired, uninteresting music from a band that was once one of most unique and original in the genre. Eric Forrest couldn't save them back in the day. The return of vocalist Denis "Snake" Belanger didn't save them. Nor did the joining of Ex-Metallica (one of a very select few who can lay claim to that phrase) bassist Jason Newsted, who arrived on his white horse in shining armor - to whisk the band away to the land of milk, honey, and mainstream acceptance only to find…an overwhelming indifference.

Critics be damned, but Newsted should really be commended for doing everything he possibly could to try and bring attention to this redheaded stepchild of a band he so clearly loves. The only thing is, when you leave one of the biggest bands on the entire planet regardless of how valid your reasons may be, you stand a very good chance of being regarded as a chump. Appearing every week on a TV show auditioning singers won't help matters any either, though there he was, bless his bouffanted little heart - Every. Single. Week. Wearing a different Voivod shirt. If that isn't dedication folks, I don't know what is. Not to mention seeing anything to do with Voivod on the network that brings you King of Queens and CSI: Pick-a-city is a surreal experience, let me tell you. You're a good man, Jason. You tried to get your buddy's Echobrain off the ground, you tried to help these three wayward French-Canadians off the ground, you tried to help a struggling Tommy Lee get his third TV show, but it's all been for naught. Time to take a rest, my friend. Give it a few years when it's no longer "Jason Newsted (Ex-Metallica)." Wait until it's "J. Newsted - Bass".

But when all else is said and done, it all comes down to the music. You can have the best marketing this side of the Third Reich, but if you don't have the music it still doesn't mean shit to a tree. There is music on this album, but I'll be damned if I can remember a single note of it. All the crazy chord progressions and time signatures that we've been waiting for years to return still leave us waiting. Frustratingly flaccid from start to finish. I'm wracking my brain to say something positive, but you know what? It ain't coming. Music? Pfffft. Cover? Pfffft. Production? Pff - oh, wait. Okay, the production is good, but anyone with a copy of Pro-Tools can make a decent sounding album, so, pfffft.

It's not often I say this and I hate to admit it, but even if a new guitarist was found and more albums released, I just don't see Voivod's career ending on a high note with a "great" or even "pretty good" album. You have "Piggy"'s very last recordings on the shelves, guys. Mission accomplished. Please disperse. There's nothing more to see here.

Voivod – Katorz cover artwork
Voivod – Katorz — The End, 2006

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