[8.5/10] Voivod playing with another guitar player other than Piggy is like Pantera playing without Dimebag. That’s how much Denis D’Amour (aka “Piggy”) meant to the band. Of course, there’s a fraction of the population who are aware of this potential indiscretion compared to what would happen if someone stepped in for Dimebag, so serious kudos to new Voivod guitarist Dan “Chewy” Mongrain, formerly of fellow Canadian metallers Martyr for admirably stepping into some very big shoes. Before the band heads into the studio to record their first post-Piggy album, they wisely recorded a live album in their hometown of Montreal, the aptly-titled Warriors of Ice.
Warriors of Ice touches upon all eras of the band, minus the Eric Forrest years. Vocalist Snake is his usual garbled and animated self (gotta love his youthful diction after all these years), rambling away on killer cuts like “The Unknown Knows,” “Tribal Convictions” and “Ravenous Medicine,” which is still perhaps the best Voivod song ever, with Snake’s best line ever, which is of course, “The Red Cross is turning to…black!” Can’t top that.
For a live album, production is bright and crisp, showcasing Mongrain’s near-perfect replication of Piggy’s intricate chord movements. Mongrain hits on all the right nerves with his playing, nailing the angular chord ideas on “Panorama” and “Tornado,” and turning in a whale of a performance on “Nuclear War,” a song that highlighted the band’s debut, War and Pain. Let us not overlook the fact that the 0:51 – 1:13 mark is still one of the heaviest moments in thrash metal history.
Rare when we lob such a high rating for a live album, but the surprise over Mongrain’s capabilities and song selection makes Warriors of Ice a totally satisfying listen. Piggy’s legacy lives on, but a fully-active and ripping Voivod is something few can complain about.
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