Voivod Are as Imaginative and Intricate as Ever on 'Synchro Anarchy'
Published Feb 08, 2022After 40 years and over a dozen studio albums worth of acclaimed music, most any band could be excused for mailing it in a bit at this stage of their career. Canadian, terrestrial, and intergalactic prog metal legends Voivod elect to flex and soar instead, delivering an impressively intricate and delightful effort with their fifteenth studio work, Synchro Anarchy.
Thematic juxtaposition and contrast provide an underpinning throughout an album that is as relentless as the rhythmic underbelly provided by the captivating drumming of Michel "Away" Langevin and riveting bass work of Dominic "Rocky" Laroche. Abstract themes of fracturing dimensions, disintegrating realities, tech-fuelled escapism and assimilation, and personal jubilance decaying into cosmic dust are some of the many different angles that listeners may take away from the album.
In this swirling maelstrom of abstract lyrics and instrumental throwdowns, the interpretive opportunities feel as sprawling and expansive as the universe itself. Synchro Anarchy is a piece of art that may invoke a different meaning and emotional journey for any individual listener. As any excellent prog album does, it also provides an experience that ducks and pivots in the dimension of time, seeming to palpitate, gasp, and morph its essence across dozens or hundreds of listens, offering near endless rewards.
The opening track "Paranormalium" sets the tone, and within the first ten seconds makes it abundantly clear to fans that this is a Voivod album. Lumbering, gargantuan rhythmic punches are attacked by careening guitar riffs before the music evolves into a spacey symphony of impressive instrumental work and distinctive vocals. The track "Planet Eaters" is a groovier affair in many respects, resonating to those who have endured the past two years of our planetary plague: "We all need to spend some time away, from Earth."
Where Voivod shine brightest on Synchro Anarchy is on the album's title track. Arguably the most impressive track of their career to this point, it's an immediately catchy and ferocious piece of musicianship where every member elevates themselves in majestic unison. Here, the work of guitarist Daniel "Chewy" Mongrain (as is evident across the entirety of the album) is absolutely jaw-dropping, and helps to paint an interstellar soundscape in which technology and nature are blurred to the point where the listener may have problems discerning whether sounds may be whale song, or a blaring alien klaxon. Denis "Snake" Bélanger anchors the instrumental intensity with his distinctive and well suited layer of vocals. Very rarely does prog metal see a track like this that so perfectly produced, so consummate and complex, all while being such an unadulterated joyride.
Synchro Anarchy offers sonic and thematic nods to the entire spectrum of Voivod's best, previous work and it does so in an imaginative and uncompromising manner. The work is razor sharp, creating a cosmic sounding tempest of tempo shifts and time signature changes that are pouring with intricacy. Perhaps the best compliment that this album could receive is that every spacey second sounds exactly like Voivod. (Century Media)