Walkin’ on egg shells here. See, VOIVOD is a band that I never liked but most of the rest of the Metal community loves. After a fairly successful twenty-year career filled with experimentation and finding success playing their own style, founder Denis “Piggy” D’Amour died of colon cancer while recording this album. The tracks he did record were used in the final mix, as per his wishes. Fans, obviously, have a lot emotionally invested in this album.
And along comes the critic to rain on the parade. “Katorz” is not an especially good album, a good album, or even one I’ll ever listen to after finishing this review. Constantly, I am being told that VOIVOD is a horizon-expanding band who are infallible (or at least have been since their third album). The promo says this is a band that has discovered notes on the guitar ne’er before heard. So why don’t I hear it? Why don’t I hear the band’s twenty year career leading up to this album?
See, that’s the problem. “Katorz” sounds like any album a neighbourhood garage band would put together given a recording contract. The lack of sophistication, the lack of experimentation, the lack of memorable parts all kill the album—the album almost totals a negative sum based on all it lacks. It’s an amateur affair with repetitive riffs and no subtext. Before getting “Katorz,” I’d heard “The X-Stream” on a The End Records sampler and when I hit play on “The Get Away” I wasn’t aware it was a different song.
If this weren’t a VOIVOD album, “Katorz” would sink into the amorphous mass of under the radar and no one would remember it three weeks hence. Maybe I’m the wrong critic, but this is just not a good album. I hope, for you VOIVOD fans out there, that your mileage will vary substantially. (Online June 22, 2006)