Katorz is the 11th Voivod studio album and 14th overall release. It was conceived in a period of inspiration. The touring that followed 2003’s self-titled Voivod album (including a successful Ozzfest stint) kicked the band’s momentum up another notch. With the lineup firmly settled Denis Piggy D’Amour, Michel Away Langevin, Denis Snake Belanger and Jason Jasonic Newsted they began writing of one mind and prepared to take their sound to the next level. A wealth of material was conceived, too much for one album, but they eventually settled on 10 songs that would stand as their 11th album. The fine-tuning began. But early in the process, tragedy struck. Guitarist and main riff-constructor Piggy was struck down with colon cancer. Throughout the middle of 2005, the music took a back seat while band members and friends hoped and waited for him to beat the disease. By late August of that year, Piggy succumbed to the illness and passed away. The metal world mourned with Piggy’s band members and family. In the ultimate tribute to his memory, the rest of Voivod finished the recordings using a wealth of demos the guitarist left behind. In his final days he gave longtime cohort Away directions where to find his demos, expressing his wishes that the band finish the album in his absence. Voivod would carry on in Piggy’s memory, recording with producer Glen Robinson(a name Voivod fans will recognize from the Nothingface era) and emerging triumphant with Katorz. It is a fitting tribute to Piggy’s talent and a respectful epitaph of the man’s vision. During the recording, Voivod hinted that more experimentation would go into Katorz than the previous album. While this is clear, the band didn’t experiment for its own sake and there are no overzealous attempts to recapture the vibe of any previous album. They have always pushed defiantly forward, and Katorz adds new aspects and colors to their diverse discography. Odd sounds, strange rhythms, cosmic segues and unsettling atmospheres exist in the margins, while direct attacks comprise the bulk of the album. Diminished, crippled chords fly from Piggy’s fingers. His strange 6-string shapes prove he’s the only man to ever find the X-sharp and Z-flat chords on a guitar. Drums roll and tumble like a churning machine as Away makes perfect sense of Piggy’s unique configurations. Snake sneers and spits in his inimitable style as Jason’s rumbling bass lines boast fat, crunchy tones that pierce their own melodies through the din. If defiant opener The Getaway and catchy mother The X-Stream are direct stabs of Voivod at their most punk, then the paranoid Mr. Clean, the heavy shifting slabs of Dognation and left-of-center Polaroids reveal the more difficult, mysterious aspects of their sound. And if people interpret hints of new-wave underlying the weird Silly Clones , it wouldn’t be the first time Voivod confused or confounded. Sounds are heavy but punchy, raw and frazzled but typically focused and always mesmerizing. Voivod and The End Records are proud to present Katorz: a triumph in the face of tragedy. We all think Piggy would be proud.
(Nuclear Blast Records)