Album review: Voivod – Synchro Anarchy

Voivod are as quirkily chaotic and complex as ever on their 15th album Synchro Anarchy…

Album review: Voivod – Synchro Anarchy
Jordan Blum

For roughly 40 years, Canadian quartet Voivod have been the reigning champions of progressive thrash metal. In fact, they arguably pioneered the style with their third album, 1987’s Killing Technology, and as Synchro Anarchy demonstrates, they’ve repeatedly improved upon that unique formula. Tighter, trickier, and hookier than predecessor The Wake, it finds the band at the top of their game.

Opener Paranormalium establishes the album’s welcomingly twisted vibe via a torrent of feisty guitar riffs, stampeding percussion and winding vocals. It perfectly embodies Voivod’s beloved knack for apocalyptic exuberance. Fortunately, several subsequent tracks – such as the forebodingly fun Mind Clock, the punky Sleeves Off, and the sagacious closer, Memory Failure – walk a similarly direct and caustic path.

Elsewhere, they tap into their proggier and more melodic side. The title-track incorporates surprisingly soothing harmonies and intricate back-and-forth movements between bass and guitar. Then Planet Eaters evokes Frank Zappa with its hypnotically irregular cycles and transitions. Near the end, The World Today acts almost like an otherworldly take on surf rock with its breezy attitude and crushing peculiarities, while Quest for Nothing earns distinction due to its sludgy segues and subtle but effective use of acoustic guitars.

Synchro Anarchy is a triumph for both Voivod and progressive thrash. Not only is the quartet’s ability to remain so adventurous, skilful and consistent utterly remarkable (considering how long they’ve been at it), but they continue to showcase how perfectly such seemingly disparate styles can be merged. In other words: they stick to what they do best while adding enough novel ideas to impress and lead by example. Those who aren’t already into this sort of music won’t be converted, but those who are will surely conclude that Voivod still do it better than anyone else.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Flotsam And Jetsam, Obliveon, Mastodon

Synchro Anarchy is released on February 11 via Century Media

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