Despite all their achievements and career highs, it's interesting to note that Quebec prog metal trailblazers Voivod have never released a live album with their classic lineup. Back in 2000, they released Voivod Lives, a live collection recorded during their trio phase. And while no live full-length with deceased guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour, who played with the band from their beginnings in 1982 until he passed away in 2005, has ever surfaced, Voivod delivered the next best thing with the recently released Warriors of Ice.
The live album captures three-fourths of the band's classic lineup -- drummer Michel "Away" Langevin, bassist Jean-Yves "Blacky" Thériault and vocalist Denis "Snake" Bélanger, along with guitarist Daniel Mongrain, who does as good a job as anyone possibly could filling Piggy's shoes -- at a very triumphant Montreal hometown concert recorded in 2009 by Glen Robinson.
"I feel like it's an achievement because there was a point where we weren't sure if there was going to be a new Voivod album," Langevin tells Exclaim! in a recent interview. "It's not a studio album but still something we're very proud of. It's good vintage Voivod."
Given Voivod's successful return to the live arena as of late after a post-Piggy hiatus, fans have been ravenous for anything from the band -- new material being top of the list, but a live album documenting the band with vocalist Snake has also been something Voivodians have clamoured for. Langevin agrees that a live disc with what is almost the original lineup has been a long time coming.
"Yeah, it's long overdue," he admits. "There was never really a live album with Snake and Blacky since the one before was us as a trio with [ex-bassist/vocalist] Eric Forrest. So, yeah, it's refreshing to have an album with almost the original lineup involved."
While it would be one nice final tip of the hat to Piggy to release an official live album from his time in the band, Langevin says that won't be the case, but he does drop one teaser about some upcoming treats for Voivod followers.
"There are no professional [unreleased] recordings in the vaults [with Piggy]," he says, "but we are re-releasing a few albums in the upcoming months with bonus live material from the '80s."
But it's not all repackaged live versions of classics and re-releases from the Voivod camp right now, as the guys are actually hard at work on a new album, which will be the first album without the contributions of Piggy, really marking a brave and bold step forward for the band, one they are feeling very confident about.
"We have four songs completed and about five other ones in progress and it's more in the progressive metal vein, so it's reminiscent of the Dimension Hatross era," says Langevin. "We hope to record in the fall and have a new album out in the spring of 2012, so before the end of the world."
So while Warriors of Ice marks the end of an era for the band, it also signifies a whole new adventure for the long-running group, even if it is a new adventure that must begin by saying goodbye to Piggy, in the form of this live album, which Langevin says was actually conceived as a way to honour him.
"Of course it's mainly on the road when we play songs that we feel Piggy's presence hovering above us," he says. "The goal of the live album was to pay tribute to him in the first place. He will always be there with us."
Warriors of Ice is out now through Indica Records.