Chophouse Records/Surfdog Records - 2003 - 65 minutes

Freed from the constraints and politics of Metallica, former bassist Jason Newsted can now immerse himself in all the projects which were a no-no during his time in the band. First came his power trio Echobrain, then he set up his Chophouse website so people could hear the numerous projects he worked on in his downtime and now, his biggest thrill: joining Canadian cult band Voivod.

A band who took trash metal's dynamics and worked in influences like King Crimson, Rush and Pink Floyd, Voivod's underground popularity as a 'band's band' built steadily throughout the 1980's. Their album 'Nothingface', released at the tail end of that decade, should've been the one to bring them to a wider audience but the breakthrough never happened and during the 1990's both their bassist and vocalist left with subsequent releases never building upon the praise for previous ones.

Now with Newsted amped-up and singer Dennis Belanger back in the fold, they're making up for lost time with an album, which shows how standalone an outfit they are in full flight. All the Voivod trademarks are here: the tribal drumming, the staccato guitar lines and Belanger's unmistakable voice but now with Newsted crunching out of the speakers they've married their progressive rock influences to a more straight ahead sound. And if it takes some time to acclimatise, once the likes of 'Gasmask Revival' and 'I Don't Wanna Wake Up' sink in, you'll be convinced that this was the record they should've made ten years ago.

Whether it wins them any new, younger fans is a big question but it'll send the old ones back to them in their droves.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Gasmask Revival - Facing Up - Blame Us - Real Again? - Rebel Robot - The Multiverse - I Don't Wanna Wake Up - Les Cigares Volants - Divine Sun - Reactor - Invisible Planet - Strange and Ironic - We Carry On