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Voivod - To The Death 84 (9,5/10) - Canada - 2011

Genre: Progressive Metal / Thrash Metal
Label: Alternative Tentacles
Playing time: 70:09
Band homepage: Voivod

Tracklist:

  1. Voivod
  2. Condemned To The Gallows
  3. Hell Driver
  4. Live For Violence
  5. War And Pain
  6. Incantation
  7. Buried Alive (Venom Cover) / Suck Your Bone
  8. Blower
  9. Slaughter In A Grave
  10. Nuclear War
  11. Black City
  12. Iron Gang
  13. Evil (Mercyful Fate Cover)
  14. Bursting Out (Venom Cover)
  15. Warriors Of Ice
Voivod - To The Death 84

As this old demo has been rereleased in late 2011, I decided to check the original release out first to get a good idea of what I could expect from the new release.

 

There are some strange things about this release that I need to mention. It's a live demo but you never hear a crowd. It's supposed to be recorded in Jonquière, Québec that has always been a region supporting the separatism movement of the Canadian province in the last decades and that tries to keep alive its French language and its cultural roots as they are isolated and surrounded by Anglo-Saxon cultures. Nevertheless, singer Denis "Bélanger" Snake is talking in English in front of the French crowd which simply doesn't make much sense. His comments seem to be somewhat random. Sometimes, he comments after many songs in a row but sometimes he doesn't say a word for a few tracks in a row. Especially the beginning of the record which could have needed some introducing words is completely free from comments, crowd animations or any live feeling whatsoever.

 

Another strange thing is what I saw on the cover of the rerelease of this live demo. A sticker tells us that this live demo has been recorded in a mining town in the Canadian north. This is completely wrong. Jonquière is not a mining town, it has been founded in 1847 and was based on agriculture and forest exploitation. Later, it hosted the largest aluminum plant in the world owned by Rio Tinto Alcan but there are no mines in the city itself. This town is also definitely not in the Canadian north. It's a few hours in the north of the big cities Montréal, Québec and Sherbrooke but it isn't part of the regions Côte Nord or Nord-du-Québec that are close to Labrador and Newfoundland that host some important mines. I also read in a recent interview concerning the release of the band's latest live record "Warriors Of Ice" that the band members said it was recorded in their "home town". That's once again wrong. It was recorded in Montréal and not in Jonquière or the city of Saguenay that contains today the old cities of Jonquière, Chicoutimi and La Baie among several small villages. I ask myself if the band members have forgotten where they come from or if their management thinks that their fans are stupid and only know about the city of Montréal in Québec. Now you have learned about the history and culture of Québec and VOIVOD’s origins.

 

Anyway, let's talk about the music now. This release contains tracks from the upcoming first two releases of the band that are "War And Pain" and "Rrröööaaarrr" as well as cover version of the bands VENOM and MERCYFUL FATE.

 

The great thing is that this demo release has even more energy than the studio records. I especially like Snake's vocals as they sound way more natural as on the first studio efforts. The bass is more prominent on this release as on some later releases, take "Black City" as a great example. The guitar solos and sounds are already completely unique and stunning; a very good example might be the band classic "Nuclear War" on this demo. The drums are all the way energizing. Take the solo of "Black City" or the unforgettable opening of "Warriors Of Ice" as great examples. The band already mixes aggression and grace in a perfect way on this release.

 

It has a raw sound which you can hear during the short pauses between the songs that include background noises but the tracks themselves sound very great and you can clearly identify each instrument. The quality is fairly better than it is on the live demo "Morgoth Invasion" released in the same year.

 

I also like the unreleased and very atmospheric interlude "Negatations" that adds some atmosphere and leads to a cover version of VENOM. A very positive element is that the cover version really fit to the sound of VOIVOD. If I wouldn't know these bands, I would never think these weren't VOIVOD songs.

 

In the end, I prefer the energy, the diversity and the authenticity of this release over the first two studio records. This is an essential release to feel and understand the spirit of early VOIVOD. The band already shows all of its trademarks. You get all songs that are included on "War And Pain", some of the greatest songs of the second release, the exclusive bonus track "Condemned To The Gallows", one of my favourite songs from the band's early days, three great cover songs (especially the two VENOM covers are amazing and in my opinion maybe stronger than the original tracks) plus an exclusive interlude. You really can't ask for more. Apart of the confusing atmosphere, there is not much to criticize on here. If you don't have much money, stop spending your time on trying to find rare and old copies of the first two studio releases and purchase this live demo in its original or re-mastered version. This record perfectly incarnates everything early VOIVOD are all about.

(Online February 12, 2012)

Sebastian Kluth



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