The rule is simple: we cannot anticipate something from Voivod that could be described as “anticipated”. Instead, what we get from them always belongs to the field of unpredictability. The band has such an ultra-dimensional talent that after each release, many of us have to visit an orthopedic doctor, to have our jaws fixed. Their progy / fusion experimentations and technical virtuosity reveal a band with a seemingly endless talent, a band that –despite their age- becomes better and wiser, defying limits, conventionality and (of course) labels (What is progressive? What is punk? Does it really matter?).

Luckily, Voivod remained active during the last stressful months, despite the confinement measures. Amidst their preparations for the upcoming live album (it’s in the mixing process) and composing experiments for a new record, that will be released possibly in mid-2021, they made a new EP, based on one of the most peculiar songs of “The Wake”.

Those familiar with the band’s last album are very well aware of the theatrical feeling of “The End of Dormancy”, a complex, technical song with progressive elements, where every band member has reached a top-level performance (until the next, upper level of course). Last year, Voivod were invited to participate in the Montreal Jazz Fest and play a special show there. Under that specific occasion, the band decided to revisit that song, enabling a jazz direction with the addition of a brass quintet (two trumpets, two trombones and a saxophone). Hence, Chewy wrote the score for every musician, going beyond a simple substitution of most guitar patterns by the wind instruments, making the quintet not only a supplementary element to the band, but also an integral, core part.

The song, in its new version (subtitled “Metal Section”), becomes even more theatrical (or cinematic), featuring a constant interplay between Snake’s diverse vocals, the outstanding rhythm section and Chewy’s technical riffage. “The End of Dormancy” is like watching a nightmarish story unfolding gradually in front of your eyes. The feeling of a labyrinthine nightmare is retained in the new version, but its essence changes. Now, it has an aura of a classic Hollywood epic movie, an aura that makes the song seem grandiose or somehow “expanded”. Note the ingenious use of the wind instruments in the middle orgiastic part of the track and their collaboration with the band’s patterns and especially Away’s drumming. See how the quintet intensifies the insanity of the closing crescendo, interweaving with Snake’s theatrical (and not just vocal) act to form a prog mosaic.

The new “End of Dormancy” depicts Voivod’s open-mindedness and tendency to accomplish weird projects and -of course- Chewy’s genuine composing talent and jazz knowledge. That special release is suitable for equally open-minded music lovers who search for unusual, ambitious experiments.

The live performance of the song at the Montreal Fest is also included in the EP, where we can “witness” Voivod and the brass section interacting as a clock mechanism of high precision, under a more jamming approach. Finally, a performance of “The Unknown Knows” at the same event is included as a special gift.

♦ 9,5/10

Alex Nikolaidis