In 1988, after two more or less perfunctory albums that saw the band Voivod honing their craft, notice was given with the third album that something new – very new – and jaw-dropping was hereby released upon the world, That album entitled Killing Technology was a clear indication that the band was heading towards the pinnacle of their career. However, as good as this album was, it was not produced very well, and was more a warning shot across the bow for their next album released in 1988 entitled Dimension Hatröss
There is no way to understate the album in its originality and insanely futuristic maelstrom across the rock spectrum. Some bands like KMFDM, Rammstein, Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly were industrial giants in their own right, but Voivod did it with all guitars, bass and drums, and very few hints of keyboards until later for atmospheric aesthetics. This is what makes it so mind-blowing. These guys could play.
Voivod did it with their own hands and did it live. By hearing the results you can appreciate what soundscapes they were and still are able to create with conventional instruments. The album is a thematic one, something similar to describing a particle collider. However, in this case the two protons, positive and negative, crash into each other and rip open a new micro-parallel galaxy where the Voivod entity goes exploring for information, knowledge, etc. So much for the sci-fi, but it’s pretty heady stuff, as all Voivod material has been.
But to metal musicians and guitarists, this album was probably as stunning as any album could be. The big secret besides the imagery belonged to one of the greatest and horribly overlooked guitar players ever. Denis ‘D Amour, better known as “Piggy,” the Floydian reference obvious, as the others, drummer and artist Michel Langevin was known as “Away” and then bassist Jean-Yves Theriault’s “Blacky,” topped off by Denis Belanger, aka “Snake” on vocals and lyrics.
The album starts off with a swirling metallic trip around the speakers, the so-called “crash” of the protons. Then the opening salvo “…Prolog…Experiment” kicks in and sends you into a frenzy, with Piggy unleashing a very deep knowledge of jazz music that is as much reminiscent of some of the more experimental jazz experimentation of the ’70s as Rush is. “Tribal Conviction” starts with a jungle tribal beat, but it’s not from any jungle around here. More bizarre chord choices, a brutal beat, and Snake’s vocals are always clean and understandable, and we know this is not going to be a cliche-driven album at all.
The second side features “Macrosolutions To Megaproblems,” and two songs that have survived on their live show, “Brain Scan,” a tune that slightly approaches a chopping hook that might just lop your head clean off, and “Psychic Vacuum,” again with a hint of a hook before the finale “Cosmic Drama” brings the episode to a furious and catastrophic close.
Dimension: Hatross however is not unlistenable at all. For its day it was hundreds of years ahead of its time and given that it still is, without the help of electronic assistance that some “futuristic” musicians rely on only makes it that much more special. Rather it is an excursion by superior musicians who do not pander to progressive showing off and create a sonic atmosphere that requires the full attention of all four members to pull off this masterpiece of modern metal. Tragically, years later Piggy would die of brain cancer, and left the guitar world truly lacking a visionary in the style of Robert Fripp, Tosin Abasi, Frederick Thordendahl of Meshuggah and a few others.
This album belongs in the same whispered conversations as Ride The Lightning, King Crimson’s Discipline, Rush (anything) or for capturing the mood so well through its music even though it’s not very similar, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. It is that good.
Voivod Dimension Hatröss: Album Review article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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