The Heavy Metal Review

2 for 1 Quick Review: Voivod ‘Target Earth’ and Helloween ‘Straight Out of Hell’

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voivod_target_earth

Voivod‘s latest album Target Earth is notably the first to feature Daniel Mongrain on guitar (who replaced the late Dennis D’Amour). In most instances like this, fans might wonder if the band has maintained its core sound. However, Voivod never really had a set style – if anything the group’s sound can only be described as, well, weird.

Just glancing at the cover for Target Earth leaves you wondering what to expect. It’s part imperfect first album design meets part colorful futuristic space art. And just like the album’s front image the music switches between unpolished metallic imperfection to the sound of a finely tuned machine. The riffs are at times dissonant and at other times more straightforward, but it always seems like Voivod is in control of the chaos.

While Voivod‘s music has always been fairly niche-based, there is plenty to like about the punk attitude delivered on Target Earth. Denis “Snake” Bélanger delivers a strong vocal performance throughout the album and is actually the highlight overall.

It’s kind of amazing a band like Voivod has held out over the years – never resorting to following trends or going mainstream in sound. Target Earth won’t necessarily blow you away, but it serves a reminder that a band doesn’t always have to compromise its sound to persevere. Voivod does what it likes and isn’t afraid to be weird.

Final Verdict 7.5 out of 10

helloween-straightoutofhell

Helloween‘s status as power metal legend is already established – and probably was as early as the release of Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. 1 and 2 – the group defined the sub genre with these recordings.

Since its heyday in the ’80s the German powerhouse has had its share of ups and downs (as well as personnel changes). The current line-up has been in place as of 2005 and this has been a relative safe period for the band. The last three albums have all had some highlights (2010’s 7 Sinners – alongside Accept’s Blood of the Nations – was proof old metal dudes can still kick ass) and Straight Out of Hell is no different. If anything, it’s a return to the more classic power metal sound the group pioneered.

While The Dark Ride will likely remain the most innovative of modern Helloween albums to feature vocalist Andi Deris, Straight Out of Hell has plenty of moments which display why the band is so revered in the power metal world. Opener “Nabatea” is an obvious highlight, but the surprising aggression on “World at War” and “Straight Out of Hell” make them first listen standouts.

Helloween is never afraid to explore heavy metal stereotypes and experiment with its sound – with mixed results. “Wanna Be God” is a ridiculous homage to music front men and Freddie Mercury which falls flat and “Asshole” is more cliche than humorous (even though it still has some charm).

These minor hold-ups don’t stop Straight Out of Hell from being one of the more enjoyable power metal releases in awhile. Helloween doesn’t have to prove itself to anyone and is clearly having a good time making music that fans will crack a smile while listening to.

Final Verdict: 8.0 out of 10

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Written by Eric

January 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm

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