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Voivod 

The Multiverse (Chophouse/Surf Dog)

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Voivod -- much like its greatest muse, former Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett -- has frequently been waylaid by its own eccentricity. Whereas Barrett's acid-abetted meditations left him a recluse battling dementia, Voivod's forward-thinking, technology-obsessed speed metal eventually became so diffuse that even the band members themselves seemed confused by the time they got around to 1993's superb but scattershot Outer Limits.

Close to a decade later, the Canadian metallers have gone back to the future, recruiting former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, revisiting their '80s thrash roots, and dropping their most consistent album since '89's Nothingface. The Multiverse is perhaps Voivod's most imposing disc: Wedding the unchecked aggression of the band's first two LPs with the prog-underpinnings of Voivod's later work, it's an album of velocity and vicissitude. Opener "Gas Mask Revival" is a temperamental thumper, with frontman Snake's French-accented snarl coming across as both pained and pissed. Driven by Newsted's seismic bass lines, "Blame Us" may be the heaviest thing this band has ever done, while guitarist Piggy's elastic riffs add menace to cuts like "Real Again?" and "Reactor." It's enough to make metalheads nuts, just like Barrett.

More by Jason Bracelin

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