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Biography

Jonquière, Québec based avant-garde Thrash Metal 'Cyberpunk' act VOIVOD mixed Punk, Metal and Sci-Fi in a unique combination that won them many fans during the mid 80's Thrash boom. The band's early constructs provoked scorn from a large contingent of the Metal fraternity but their musical growth and ability to convey their ambitions came to fruition with the landmark 'Nothingface' album, this opus often quoted by progressive metal aficionados as a groundbreaking set.

The French speaking VOIVOD was comprised frontman Snake (a.k.a. Denis Belanger), guitarist Piggy (Denis D'Amour), bassist Blacky (Jean-Yves Thériault) and drummer Away (Michel Langevin). Unusually, the entire concept of VOIVOD was to be based on nuclear physics graduate Michel Langevin's self-invented science fiction character, the Voivod Korgull persona being a post apocalyptic vampire warrior. The musicians first assembled in late 1980, but only became dedicated fully to the cause of constructing a solid band unit around November 1982. Jean Fortin, later of DEAF DEALER, briefly occupied the bass position before Blacky had learned the instrument. The nicknames, which came to identify the quartet globally, were taken in reference to personal traits, Piggy due to his endomorphic stature, Snake because of his elongated visage, Away because he often missed rehearsals and Blacky being attributed to sullen mood swings.

Initial VOIVOD gigs had the band including numerous cover versions in their set from the likes of JUDAS PRIEST, MOTÖRHEAD and VENOM. The group released a number of live recordings in 1983, including the June 25th 'Anachronism' cassette, which brandished cover versions of JUDAS PRIEST's 'Rapid Fire', MOTÖRHEAD's 'Ace Of Spades', 'Stone Dead Forever' and 'No Class' as well as VENOM's 'Black Metal', 'Welcome To Hell' and 'Witching Hour'. This cassette credited the players as Snake - "throat, scream, insults, mike torture & weapon operator", Piggy - "burning metal-axe, electro- motive force & tremolition", Blacky - "blower bass, pyromania and shit" and Away "thunder and death machine, horror and visions".

The band's first forays into the recording studio resulted in the 1984 'To The Death' demo, quickly followed by a further live tape 'Morgoth Invasion'. VOIVOD officially debuted in 1984 with a track, 'Condemned To The Gallows', culled from the 'To The Death' sessions', on one of the infamous Metal Blade 'Metal Massacre' compilations.

With the inaugural 'War And Pain' album VOIVOD immediately set themselves apart from the Trash bandwagon. Financed by a collective loan of $2,000 from the band members parents, the extremities of 'War And Pain' intrigued the curious whilst prompting lovers of conventional Metal to run for the hills. The sessions were hewn out onto an 8 track recorder over an eight day period at Le Terroir studio in Quebec in June 1984. Assembled over a production which could only be honestly described as abysmal and fronted up by the Korgull the Exterminator sleeve character, many found the Sludge-Thrash brutality of the album, spread over vinyl sides "Iron" and "Blower", far too primitive to stomach. Where 'War And Pain' did find a keen audience was the Metal stronghold of Germany. This power base generated a healthy portion of the 70,000 album sales that would see the band on their way. In December 1984, VOIVOD recorded a live concert in Jonquiere that would be released as the 'Morgoth Invasion' demo. On April 4th,1985 VOIVOD performed outside Canada for the first time, supporting CRO-MAGS and VENOM at the New York Ritz.

The suitably titled 'Rrroooaarrr!!!', laid down at L'Autre' studios in Montreal from between October and November 1985, followed up in 1986, their first for German label Noise Records and licensed to Combat for the USA. An extensive US tour was undertaken to promote the album, partnered with fellow experimentalists CELTIC FROST and the somewhat mis-matched RUNNING WILD throughout June. The band then hooked up with POSSESSED and DEATHROW for European gigs in November, adding Punks ENGLISH DOGS for the closing London Electric Ballroom date. Maintaining a close link with diehard fans, the band put out the fan club demo release 'No Speed Limit', captured at a Le Spectrum concert in Montreal on 10th December 1986.

VOIVOD's next opus would be conceived at Musiclab Studios in Berlin with producer Harris Johns in October and November 1986. 'Killing Technology' was taken out on the road in North America in April and May 1987 backing German Thrashers KREATOR, the two bands uniting further for European gigs in November. Unfortunately the band's scheduled slot on the MEGADETH headlined 'Christmas On Earth' festival in Leeds, UK was stopped when customs officers confiscated the band's gear. VOIVOD turned up for the show but could only sit and watch the other bands perform. Again the faithful Iron Gang fan club was rewarded with two exclusive tapes, of shows recorded in Montreal and Brussels.

The group cut the 'Dimension Hatröss' album, closing out with a tongue in cheek 'Batman' theme, again at Musiclab Studios in Berlin with Harris Johns commencing December 4th 1987 for June 1988 issue. Dominated by dissonant chords, unexpected time signatures and Piggy's liberal use of unconventional minor chords, 'Dimension Hatröss' succeeded in alienating critics yet drawing in the more adventurous Metal fans. Progress was temporarily stalled as VOIVOD was forced to pull out of their 'Dimension Hatröss' world tour when Piggy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. When surgeons warned that necessary surgery would in all probability curtail his guitar abilities, Piggy opted to decline an operation and instead threw his energies into the band. As such, the group forged an alliance with VIO-LENCE for North American concerts to close the year. Naturally a further live cassette, resulted in 'A Flawless Structure'.

VOIVOD's tenacity and reluctance to compromise was rewarded with a major label deal via MCA Records subsidiary Mechanic for 1989's Glen Robinson produced 'Nothingface' features the band's take on PINK FLOYD's 'Astronomy Domine' woven into the overall concept seeing the Voivod character now no longer content to wage war but struggling with multiple inner psychological dimensions. A heavy factor in this lyrical shift would be the tracks 'Pre-Ignition' and 'Missing Sequences', related directly to the band's roots and fear of Alzheimer's disease, with their friends and family living in the shadow of the Jonquière aluminum factory. Again embarking on US dates, VOIVOD took out SOUNDGARDEN and FAITH NO MORE as support acts. 'Nothingface' was nominated for a Canadian 'Juno' music industry award and topped off the album marketing by touring homeland arenas as guests to RUSH.

Staying with MCA Records, 'Angel Rat' arrived in 1991, although Blacky had by this time been replaced by Pierre St Jean. Gigs across the USA in September 1993 had VOIVOD heading a bill alongside DAMN THE MACHINE and CLUTCH.

Snake backed out for 1995's Mark S. Berry produced 'Negatron' forcing Piggy and Away into a rethink on the band's future. 'Negatron', which included guest participation from industrial godfather Jim G. Thirlwell, saw issue in December, released in Canada via Hypnotic and Mausoleum Records in Europe, the latter featuring an extra brace of tracks in 'Vortex' and 'Erosion'. Deciding to continue as a trio, the band pulled in ex-LIQUID INDIAN and THUNDER CIRCUS vocalist / bassist Erric Forrest. 1997's 'Phobos', co-produced by the band and Rob Sanzo at Signal To Noise in Toronto, included a cover version of KING CRIMSON's '21st Century Schizoid Man'. Touring to promote the album, Forrest was severely injured during a road accident on tour in Germany during 1998. The vocalist was put into a coma and suffered severe spinal injuries. His recuperation would last for many months.

As VOIVOD went into hiatus, the 'Kronik' compilation emerged on Hypnotic, this hosting four live tracks. The band's Montréal show in late 1999 reunited VOIVOD with Snake for one gig, the former frontman guesting with the band. That October the band partnered with NEUROSIS for gigs in Europe. The August 2000 live album 'Voivod Lives', recorded at the Dutch Dynamo Festival and the renowned New York CBGB's club, included a cover of VENOM's 'In League With Satan', long a staple of the band's live set. Digipack versions were boosted by the inclusion of two studio cuts, 'The Prow' and 'Forlorn'. Forrest would leave the band to forge a fresh Montreal based project entitled E-FORCE.

A seven year break was brought to a close in 2001 when Piggy and Away opted to reunite with original singer Snake. Erstwhile METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted would co-produce subsequent recordings and play bass. Newsted held a history with Away and Piggy after recording rehearsal tapes with the pair and vocalist Sophia Ramos during 1998 at his own Chophouse Studio under the project name TARRAT. The renewed line up debuted on the 30th December at the Foufounes Electrique venue in Montreal, the band performing a set entirely comprising of SEX PISTOLS covers.

During early 2002 famed Virginian Heavy Metal band DECEASED would cover 'Blower' on their 'Zombie Hymns' album. Denis 'Piggy' D'Amour would be announced as guesting on the 2002 studio album 'Black Light District' from premier Dutch avant-garde Rockers THE GATHERING. Confirming all the recent reports the classic VOIVOD line-up of vocalist Snake, guitarist Piggy, drummer Away and bassist Blacky came out in public for an autograph signing session in Montreal on June 2nd. The band's appearance forming part of a three day Weekend Extreme celebrating 20 years of Quebec Metal.

VOIVOD, with Vincent Peake of GROOVY AARDVARK on bass, would open for Rock legend DIO for their two Quebec July dates. However, it would indeed be Jason Newsted confirmed as bass player on 'The Multiverse' album, the erstwhile METALLICA man subsequently being confirmed as a full member of the band. Away found time to act as guest on the PARADISE album 'Rock Anthropologists On The Kon-Tiki Voyage'.

Ex-bassist Jean-Yves Thériault was soon back in the news touting a fresh Thrash act billed as BLACK CLOUD. This band saw the four stringer allied with GHOULUNATICS frontman Patrick Mireault, Pierre Rémillard of OBLIVEON on guitar, Daniel Mongrain of MARTYR on second guitar and Flo Mounier from CRYPTOPSY on drums. Another ex-VOIVOD man was in the news too as former singer Eric Forrest collaborated with Tim Gutierrez and Kevin 131 in a Virginia, USA based band endeavour entitled PROJECT: FAILING FLESH. In 2003 this new act released the 'Beautiful Sickness' album.

With anticipation running high for the next chapter in VOIVOD's career over eager fans would be duped by reported album demos leaked onto the internet in December. These four tracks were in fact culled from a 1995 demo by the British group COLLAPSE.

In a curious turn of events Newsted teamed up with the OZZY OSBOURNE band in March, just days after the former occupant of that position had taken his own place in METALLICA! Newsted stuck to his VOIVOD commitments though as the band was announced as support act to Ozzy's June Canadian dates. The Newsted version of VOIVOD debuted live on 4th April at the Bourbon Street Bar And Grill in Concord, California under the assumed name of TARRAT. Following an extensive run of high profile US 'Ozzfest' shows VOIVOD would be confirmed as the opening act on OZZY OSBOURNE's September European tour. These gigs would be cancelled though when the headliner was forced out to undergo foot surgery.

Metal Blade Records would issue an official 20th Anniversary "ultimate deluxe" edition of 'War And Pain' in April of 2004. Bonus tracks included live tracks from the band's first June 1983 show, the 'Metal Massacre 5' sessions, the 'Morgoth Invasion' live demo and DVD ROM. The band's pioneering status was further recognised when acts such as E-FORCE, DELIRIUM TREMENS, INCINERATOR, NOMINON, MAUSOLEUM, CHEMIKILLER, DECEASED and ORDER FROM CHAOS participated in a tribute album to early VOIVOD, issued through France's Nihilistic Holocaust Records.

Away allied himself with an unlikely collaborator, donating his skills as studio guests to Rapper MC NECRO's album 'The Pre-Fix For Death'. The drummer would also work on a book of his distinctive VOIVOD artwork. Both Away and Piggy participated in the 30th anniversary show of the 70's Montreal outfit AUT'CHOSE in April 2005, both VOIVOD musicians also holding parallel membership of this act. AUT'CHOSE issued the album 'Chansons D'epouvante', featuring Piggy and Away, that May.

In June Jason Newsted announced a further new project dubbed HEARD OF ELEMENTS, a collaboration with Carl Coletti and slide guitarist Roy Rogers. It was learned in August that 'Piggy' was suffering from advanced colon cancer as VOIVOD made an official announcement "Our good friend and guitar hero Denis D'Amour is very ill". The guitarist died on 26th August. He was just 45 years old. Piggy's funeral was held in Jonquière, Quebec on 1st September.

VOIVOD's album, billed 'Katorz', saw completion despite Piggy's passing. The guitarist, just hours before he died, gave his fellow band mates access to his computer in order to retrieve guitar tracks and the group re-entered the studios in late September to finalise the record. The band signed the new album over to Nuclear Blast Records in January 2006. Piggy's legacy would be furthered with his other band AUT'CHOSE, the guitarist having worked up numerous tracks before his passing.

A unique, alternate mix of the song 'The X-Stream' was included on The End Records compilation album 'Alternate Endings: A Diverse Sound Collective Featuring A Distinguished Ensemble' in March. Later that same month it was revealed that Jason Newsted was to form up SUPERNOVA, the brand applied to the all star band unit assembled for the second season of reality TV show 'Rock Star'. The core band comprised MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer TOMMY LEE and onetime GUNS N' ROSES axeman GILBY CLARKE.

Jean-Yves Theriault acted as co-producer on NEGATIVA tracks in September. Away also forged LES ÉKORCHÉS, a purely acoustic project featuring vocalist Marc Vaillancourt from B.A.R.F. and BLACK CLOUD, guitarist Patrick Gordon from GHOULUNATICS and cellist Philippe Mius d'Entremont from MARUKA. Indica Records released the Glen Robinson 'Les Ékorchés' album in February 2007.

On November 17th 2006 The End Records put out a heavyweight 180gm vinyl version of 'Katorz', limited to 1,000 copies pressed in 400 clear vinyl, 400 red vinyl and 200 black vinyl. This edition also came packaged in new artwork designed by Michel Langevin.

VOIVOD set 'Infini' as the title of their final album, due in Europe on 12th June 2009 through Nuclear Blast and in North America on 16th June 16 via The End Records.

Former bassist/vocalist Eric Forrest joined VOIVOD on stage at the 'Hellfest' event on 19th June 2009 in Clisson, France to perform the band's 'Tribal Convictions'. The group featured on the TESTAMENT headlined the 'Mezcal Metal' festival taking place 13th September 2009 at Vive Cuervo Salon in Mexico sharing the stage with DEATH ANGEL, DEICIDE, GRAVE DIGGER, BELLADONNA, MALIGNO, MISERY INDEX, MORTUARY, SACRED REICH, THE AGONIST, TRANSMETAL and ALCATRAZZ.

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