Before even touching upon the music of this Canadian band's classic fourth album, I should say that over time, VOIVOD have become one of my favourite Metal bands of all time. With one of the most inventive and unique approaches in Thrash Metal, the work of the band's classic lineup (being everything up to “The Outer Limits”) has not disappointed me, and “Dimension Hatross” is no exception. Widely considered to be the band's greatest album by their more Thrash-leaning fans, there is not yet the sort of perfection that would be heard on the fifth record “Nothingface,” but the charm and quirky excellence here still ranks this among the band's greatest achievements.
One of the greatest things about VOIVOD is that they have never been content to stick with the same sound throughout their career. Falling in between the raw Speed Metal of the band's earlier material (via “War And Pain”) and the proggier FLOYD-ian leanings of albums like “Angel Rat” and “The Outer Limits,” “Dimension Hatross” is a very strong transition record for this band. VOIVOD remains an overtly Thrashy act here, but by this point, progression was seeping through the cracks of their style. Even from the irregular time of the album's opening riff on “Prolog/Experiment,” VOIVOD places themselves within the realm of the 'thinking man's Metal.’ As with much of VOIVOD's material, their biggest distinction here is the dissonant and left-of-center style of their guitarist, Denis 'Piggy' L'Amour. While the typical formula for Thrash guitarists to prove themselves is through rapid-fire soling and speed, Piggy puts his very original spin on playing the guitar into each song, often using chords that don't at first sound right to the human ear, but don't take long to become equally as catchy and fun as anything more conventional.
Although the sound and songwriting isn't quite as outstanding here as it is on my personal favourite “Nothingface,” the album has a surprising longevity for a Thrash Metal album, with appreciation only growing from listen to listen. The only song here that feels unnecessary or out-of-place is - as anyone who has heard the album may tend to agree - the final track, which is a cover of the Batman theme song. Although undeniably fun and indicative of VOIVOD's tongue-in-cheek nature, it does feel as if it takes away from the otherwise highly intelligent nature of “Dimension Hatross.” Personal highlights from the album would include the spacey “Brain Scan” and “Chaosmongers,” but perhaps most of all, the incredible song “Tribal Convictions,” which has one of the most exciting introductions to a Metal track I have ever heard. As one may guess from the song titles alone, the lyrical themes here generally revolve around spacey, science-fiction themes. Although he may be light on technical skill as a vocalist, Denis 'Snake' Belanger manages to take these abstract topics and make them incredibly fun and enjoyable, although they can tend to amount to technobabble at times.
“Dimension Hatross” comes very close to being a masterpiece for me, although it is evident that there would still be room for improvement, most notably in the way the band's sound is mixed and produced. Although it would be improved upon and perfected with the follow-up “Nothingface,” “Dimension Hatross” is a classic, and rightfully so.
(Online June 14, 2011)