War And Pain


Metal Blade, 1984


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I’ve never understood the fascination people have with Voivod. When I was younger, during the heyday of heavy metal, this Canadian band was considered to be one of the best-kept secrets in the genre that only the “cool” kids understood and appreciated.

Admittedly, Voivod is an acquired taste, and their debut effort War And Pain sets them apart from so many of the other nascent thrash metal bands from 1984. But listening now, one has to wonder what the big deal was with the band, as this is an often cacophonous collection of riffs and vocals that makes precious little sense (especially due to the muddy production work).

The band – vocalist Snake, guitarist Piggy, bassist Blacky and drummer Away – definitely did not follow the path set by other metal bands of their time, in terms of musical structure. Even on this early effort, Voivod would alternate tempos in the course of a song, and would utilize what can only be described as industrial effects in the drums and guitars as part of the song structures. This is, in and of itself, not a terrible thing; indeed, Voivod could be lauded for being a ground-breaking act in this regard.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The issues with War And Pain, however, are several. First and foremost, the production work is severely lacking. Some might call it raw, and compare it to such albums as Kill ‘Em All; however, the overall sonic sludge is closer in sound to Venom’s Welcome To Hell, though somewhat less palatable to the ear. Snake’s vocals are often so far buried in the mixture of the instrumentation that it makes deciphering the lyrics all but impossible.

And then, there’s the lyrical content itself. Even taking into effect that English might not have been the band’s primary language, one has to wonder just what the hell Voivod were thinking when they penned such lines as the following from “Suck Your Bone”: “Why don’t you believe on it / You know what we want / Go shit! I’m not a fish / We’re gonna burn your home”. Gonna just put this out here right now: that is the absolute last thing I would have ever expected any musical act to sing.

And that’s the overall problem with War And Pain – the album feels like it’s a work in progress, with the recording sounding as if we’re simply listening to a writing or rehearsal session, rather than a finished product. I admit, I have no idea whether or not the band ever tightened up their lyric writing skills (though I have the bulk of their discography still waiting in the wings for me to listen to), nor am I certain whether the overall sound of the band ever became clearer through the recording process. But what probably was meant to be the birth cries of an intense, angry group of musicians comes off as the musical equivalent of tinnitus – though there is enough hidden within to suggest the band was capable of far, far greater.

Sorry, lads, but War And Pain is an inaccurate title, that could have been corrected by dropping the first two words in it. Diehard fans will undoubtedly find lots to like about this one, but the average metalhead might be left scratching their head as to its overall importance to the scene, and cannot be recommended.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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