Arts

My Bloody Valentine

m b v | Self-released

3.5 / 5

BANDS TODAY SEEM to get away with not only independently releasing their albums online, but also with giving little notice as to when they’re going to do so. Radiohead and Circle Takes the Square dropped their latest digital albums without much advance publicity, and now Irish alt-rock legends My Bloody Valentine have done the same with their latest release, m b v. However, My Bloody Valentine’s return is perhaps most notable since the band hadn’t released an album since 1991’s genre-defining classic Loveless. High expectations? Maybe just a little.

m b v is a natural continuation of the group’s sound, which combined soft vocals with heavily layered guitar tones, essentially defining the classic shoegaze sound. The new album mostly sticks to the band’s established style, but occasionally offers up experiments like the claustrophobia-inducing instrumental interlude “Nothing Is” and the frenetic drum-and-bass closer “Wonder 2.”

Despite the band’s attempts to shake things up, m b v doesn’t sound too far removed from the shoegaze sound that Loveless pioneered. In fact, tracks like “Who Sees You” and “In Another Way”—both excellent in their own right—sound like they could’ve been culled from the same recording sessions as that album. Indeed, the reverb-heavy, lo-fi analog production style makes it sound like a lost album from the early ‘90s.

Regardless, m b v is still a good album that is worthy of the attention it has been receiving; in fact, it’s a great starting point for listeners who want to hear what My Bloody Valentine is all about.

—Max Szyc

Voivod

Target Earth | Century Media

4 / 5

THE LATEST OFFERING from influential progressive metallers Voivod was a hard time coming. The Jonquière, Que.-based legends, who have influenced a range of artists from Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt to Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, suffered the loss of their guitarist Denis D’Amour to colon cancer in 2005.
After releasing two albums that featured D’Amour’s remaining guitar recordings in 2006 and 2009, the group finally decided to tour again, recruiting guitarist Daniel Mongrain (from Montreal death-metal act Martyr) into its ranks. Following the positive reception of its new lineup, the band settled down at last to record its 13th studio album.

The result is Target Earth, a shattering return to form that sees Voivod harking back to the sound of classic releases Dimension Hatröss (1988) and Nothingface (1989), as opposed to their latter-day groove-oriented offerings. Mongrain’s guitar work not only perfectly emulates the late D’Amour’s, but his playing also injects new life into the group—something that was sorely lacking on its past few releases. The band sounds thrashier than ever, and there isn’t a bad song in the batch. “Corps Étranger” is notable for being sung in French, which surprisingly doesn’t happen very often with this francophone band.

Strong songs aside, the production is a tad weak. Michel Langevin’s drum sound is notably loud and irritating at times, and Denis Bélanger’s vocals are beginning to show their age. Regardless, Target Earth is a remarkable return to form, and shows that despite being 30-plus years into their career, Voivod still have some tricks up their sleeve.

—Max Szyc