1986: Voivod - RRRÖÖÖAAARRR

I recently came across a website that collects old death/black metal fanzines from the late 80s and early 90s (here’s the link, if you’re interested in them). Around the fifth hour of reading, I came across an interview with Voivod’s drummer and visual artist, Michel “Away” Langevin, where they asked him about his least favorite Voivod album. He replied that he hated RRRÖÖÖAAARRR and pretty much wished they never recorded it. Listening to “Ripping Headaches”, I simply couldn’t disagree more.

Sure, the critics and fans tend to agree that the golden trilogy in the québécois’ headbangers catalog is Killing Technology, the thrashy yet mold-stretching third album; Dimension Hatröss, the epic Crimsonian follow-up; and Nothingface, the last featuring the original lineup, which winks in the direction of Pink Floyd. Those are fantastic albums in their own right. And yes, the production values on RRRÖÖÖAAARRR could use some cleaning-up of general muddiness — in fact, most people unfamiliar with the ‘Vod are better off starting with any of the aforementioned trilogy of albums. Still, I think RRRÖÖÖAAARRR is a far more exciting and challenging listen, though admittedly not perfect. The album is special because it’s the band’s most experimental outlet, the one where they took chances and ended up schooling a ton of bands from Discordance Axis to Krallice to Slint (David Pajo regularly wore a Voivod shirt onstage on the reunion tour).

The album is unpredictable in its changes, unafraid of dissonance and noise, and goes for everything with rage and destruction. It’s a bumpy ride that’s uncomfortable, like having a wedgie while sitting on a rattling old ATV with bare springs for seats crossing a petrified lava road. And here you are, among the sonic awkwardness, rocking out to the alien guitar riffs Dennis “Piggy” D’Amour (who passed away in 2005) concocted while Away grooves in ever changing time signatures, keeping the beat moshing in the free world like it’s the most natural thing possible.

Reflecting upon their history and geography, Voivod were bound to have an original sound. They were not only Canadian, they were from the french-cultured Quebec; they also debuted in the mid-80s, too late to be considered within the reaches of pioneers like Anvil or Helix, yet predating the national wave of thrash as exemplified by Annihilator, Razor, and Sacrifice. They were in an awkward position, but it’s no wonder they went to influence Quebec-based bands like Cryptopsy and Gorguts that practiced a skewed yet intellectual brand of death metal.

This makes me want to get my rocking on and once I’m finished colliding with like-minded young men getting aggressively physical to high-volume music, makes me reflect on the primitiveness of Voivod’s sound. After all, this was only their second album. They went on to refine their shit, becoming metal darlings around the world, but the crusty yet technical sound they concocted on RRRÖÖÖAAARRR has never been matched. Perhaps highly accomplished musicians make better sounds when they disengage their intellectual side and just let it rip.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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