Even when Canada’s Voivod were young and snotty thrash-punks, they always had a progressive edge which suggested they wouldn’t stay stagnant in the pool of speed metal for long. Like some strange shapeshifting reptilian, their four-decade career has been characterised by constant mutation. Having reached a pinnacle of sorts (a 40th anniversary) it’s now time for the band to take stock and look around, and that where Morgöth Tales comes in. Featuring the old, new and borrowed, this is a celebration of Voivod that finds them honouring the past whilst pondering the future.
I’m always a bit dubious when bands revisit and re-record their back catalogue. As with compilations and covers albums, they have a whiff of the “cash-in” about them, and often aren’t released with the best intentions. Even when their approached with lofty ideals, those original recordings capture a certain moment in time, an impetuosity of youth or quirk in the recording process, that’s nigh on impossible to recreate. Plus, fans have special relationships with these songs, and it is an association that doesn’t bear any transmutation. However, Morgöth Tales is one of those rare self-covers albums that actually works, this isn’t simply an ouroboros eating its own tale, rather it stands proud as a Voivod album in its own right. This is partly due to the track selection; it isn’t a random composite of tracks thrown together, rather, in the best tradition of Voivod albums (think Nothingface) Morgöth Tales has been sequenced in a manner that tells a whole new story that takes the listener on a nightmarish journey through deep space (and to a place where no one will hear you scream).
Morgöth Tales includes nine cuts, each culled from albums ranging from 1984’s War And Pain to 2003’s Voivod (although Negatron is strangely overlooked) and presents them in chronological order. It’s a bonus cut from that ‘84 debut that kicks things off in the shape of ‘Condemned To The Gallows’ (which also appeared on the seminal Metal Massacre V compilation. Although it was released in the midst of the bands speed daze, it features all the ingredients the band would later develop in the shape of neat time changes and unorthodox time signatures. Like all the cuts on offer here, it works precisely because it’s not a facsimile of the original, and it feels as if the band have breathed new life into familiar forms, but most importantly, it sounds as this current incarnation of Voivod are having a ball as they blast through this old standard. Having said that, it took me a few listens to get my head around ‘Macrosolutions To Megaproblems’, having lived with the original for 35-years, and while you won’t find these songs acting in new, strange ways there’s a vibrancy here that’ll constantly prick up your ears.
The new (title) track fits the Voivod aesthetic very well, its space rock vibe simultaneously signposting the past, present and future. Voivod have covered Pink Floyd, Hawkwind (and the Batman theme) and the CD and digital version of Morgöth Tales adds a version of Public Image Limited’s ‘Home’. It works on so many levels, not only in the storyline arc, but “home” is exactly where Morgöth Tales leads.
- Condemned To The Gallows
- Thrashing Rage
- Killing Technology
- Macrosolutions to Megaproblems
- Nuage Fractal
- Fix My Heart
- Rebel Robot
- Morgöth Tales