Voivod have been pushing the boundaries of progressive heavy metal for 35 years. At the point in their career where most bands are coasting or living on past glories, the Canadian quartet continue to innovate. Singer Denis “Snake” Bélanger, guitarist Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain, bassist Dominique “Rocky” Laroche, and drummer Michel “Away” Langevin will release their latest album, The Wake, through Century Media on Sept. 21. Voivod are not just surviving—they’re thriving.

Mongrain does his best to explain the band’s extraordinary longevity. “Perseverance is the key, I think,” he says. “Not many bands can do it for so many years. It is a hard life with ups and downs, but quality, integrity, and unity make all the difference.”

After years of subtle and not-so-subtle musical evolution, Voivod are still changing. “Music is everything but static. It’s always evolving like our inner-self, our minds, our feelings, and our tastes, so it’s endless, really,” Mongrain explains. When describing the band’s inspiration, he says, “Creating a unique world with its own vocabulary and landscape is an inexhaustible source of motivation.”

Mongrain also offers some insight into Voivod’s laborious creative process. “You have to get your ideas out there and work around with everybody to shape the idea into its own entity and feed it until it’s mature and strong,” he expounds. “Composing has a lot to do with letting go and having confidence in each other and ourselves.”

According to Mongrain, when it comes to The Wake, fans can expect a few surprises. “We worked a lot on the music. Each note and each groove were played until every part felt natural and complementary to each other,” he says. “It is very rich in counterparts between the bass and guitars, and also vocals, to get the desired effect in each part of the song.”

“It is a very progressive album with a lot of intensity and different emotions,” he adds. “I really see it as a journey. It’s the kind of album you listen to from beginning to end many times and still discover some new things you didn’t catch on the previous listen.”

“We also added a few instruments for some of the songs—a string quartet, a bone player [helming a traditional Irish rhythmic instrument made of bone], timpani, percussion—all in a subtle and very musical way to serve the song,” Mongrain shares. “It’s a very deep album, and I think the fans will be very pleased.”

Voivod have been extremely influential and critically-acclaimed, but the band have largely existed outside of the musical mainstream. Mongrain has played guitar for Voivod for 10 years, but he started out as a fan. This gives him a unique perspective. “As a fan of the band, I clearly understand and hear the influence Voivod had on major artists,” he says. “Voivod is unique. It is a margin within the margin itself. Not everybody gets it, and that’s OK.”

Along with releasing The Wake, Voivod are celebrating their 35 years as a band with an expansive European tour running until late October. It’s likely to feel like a victory lap for these metal pioneers. “We really love to tour,” Mongrain elaborates. “We have friends everywhere. We really like to play places we are not used to playing. This time, Marseille is a first for me. Plus, we all speak French as our first language, so there is always a cousin vibe with the people in France.”

Mongrain hints that the setlist will “incorporate some classics, some hidden gems, and a little more new stuff from the new album as well. It’s refreshing for us and the fans!”

Purchase The Wake here

Top photo by Alan Snodgrass


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