I agree completely with those reviews which place this album on the same level as Voivod’s most critically acclaimed album, Nothingface. Whilst the musical style is somewhat different (retaining more of the thrash style heard on the band’s previous efforts), the album offers just as much, if not more, creativity and innovation. Although the band displays awesome musicianship keeping such complex and dissonant arrangemets flowing, it is Snake’s voice (in my opinion) that is the glue which holds the whole ensemble together. Very few vocalists seem to be able to inject as much personality into their performances, suggesting that whilst his style is unusual, he REALLY knows what he’s doing, and provides the focus for the listener which augments the amazing creativity on display. This is the kind of album that makes aspiring musicians give up in despair, as it’s highly unlikely that this sort of symbiosis will be achieved in this context again.
The follow-up to 2003’s ”Voivod”, ”Katorz” is the first album in the band’s 20-plus-year career that did not feature founding guitarist Denis ”Piggy” D’Amour working alongside his bandmembers in the studio. D’Amour died August 26, 2005 in a Montreal hospital from complications of advanced colon cancer. In order to record ”Katorz”, singer Denis ”Snake” Belanger, drummer Michael ”Away” Langevin, and bassist Jason ”Jasonic” Newsted utilized all of the guitar parts that Piggy had recorded for the record on his laptop with ProTools before his death.
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If I were stranded on a desert island and could have only five metal albums, they would be, at least right now, “Beg To Differ” from Prong, Sepultra’s “Arise”, Exodus’ “Tempo Of The Damned”, Judas Priest’s “British Steel” and Voivod’s “Dimension Hatross.”
This seminal industrial metal album was and is still too heavy and complex for many listeners and, as indicated in other reviews, far ahead of its time. Many fans love the lyrical content, with its odes to machine dominance, questions of sanity and all sorts of futuristic meanderings. What makes this CD great is the guitar work of Denis “Piggy” D’Amour.
D’Amour is a jazz guitar fan who takes complex jazz theory and distorts the results and cranks it up to 11 and then combines it with the attack of metal. “Piggy” has melded atonal experimentation, jazz improvisation worthy of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” with classic metal and the result is an industrial thrashing that has no equal. “Blacky”, the former bassist, provides distorted bass with melodic riffing to hold down the arrangements and keep them from tipping over the edge into total chaos.
This album will continue to grow in stature as more generations discover its timelessness and groundbreaking expeditions into musical territory no metal band has ever explored before. It’s simply a must have for anybody who considers themselves cutting edge metal afficionados or just likes any music that dares to break the rules. In this case, “Dimension Hatross” not only breaks the rules of metal, it shatters them and renders them useless.
Dimension Hatross is, in my humble opinion, a near perfect record. It’s wildly inventive for any genre, but in the rich history of metal it’s an absolute masterpiece. While the great Nothingface would finally earn the band some very well-deserved fame, for my money this is still their best work from a songwriting perspective. If this album had been given the same production gloss as its follow-up, I’m sure a lot of folks would agree with me.
That being said, there’s something about the wider, dirtier, heavier sound that makes this album what it is. The band is clearly getting tighter, Away’s drumming in particular is more polished and less noisy, Snake’s vocals are becoming more melodic and less scream focused, and yet they retain those great thrashy roots that they would all but completely drop two albums later (only to revist them with less success a few records after that).
Long story short, if you’re a fan of metal this album absolutely belongs in your collection. A truly great band is in their prime here, and that’s something you definitely don’t want to miss.
Most people look at “Nothingface” as the peak of Voivods innovative sound but I disagree. Dimension Hatross is the perfect balance between the early thrash and later progressive space metal Voivod would explore. Dimension Hatross is a powerful and unique album loaded with dissonant, crunching, catchy and interesting riffs. Snake cut down on the screaming and explored a new almost robotic vocal style. It blasted through the boundries of the typical speed metal scene and made us all wonder….what will Voivod do next? I don’t know about the rest of you…but the dissonant chords Piggy plays on Hatross can be found in many 90’s recording acts CD’s. Voivod were always innovative and this is their best album!
The music world was just not ready for _Dimension Hatross_ when it was released in 1988. Back then, rock music was dominated by people who spent more time sculpting their hair than writing songs. This album for its time was akin to the F-18 being built right after the Wright Brothers conducted their little flight at Kitty Hawk. Of course this was lost on a public who only wanted to hear from Bon Jovi, Poison, or Def Leppard.
I don’t pretend like I know the guys in the band, but _DH_ to me represents Voivod being their most “Voivodesque”. It is a happy medium between the heavy and nihilistic facets of their earlier material and the progressive elements that would surface on future albums. While not too many gave that much though about it during the 80s or 90s, this “heavy and progressive” philosophy now has better-known devotees like Meshuggah and Mastodon. Both of those bands have yet to release anything that ranks below excellent.
The concept tells of the Voivod being who finds itself in an experiment with a particle accelerator, in which protons and anti-protons collide into each other. The explosion from the collision creates a micro-galaxy for the Voivod to explore and gather information from. Along the way; the Voivod encounters a primitive tribal society who see it as their messiah, anarcho-terrorists, Orwellian technocrats, non-corporeal parasites who steal mental energy, and the destruction of this newly created galaxy. But who had time for that when that guy in Def Leppard wanted you to pour sugar on him?
Like the protons and antiprotons that created the micro-galaxy, _DH_ is a universe of contradictions. It’s progressive but punkish. It has a huge cosmic feel without losing its endearing low-budget grit. It’s chaotic but disciplined. It’s beautiful without being schmaltzy. And for something released 17 years ago, it’s still ahead of its time. And will probably be for sometime to come.