It took ex-VOIVOD bassist/vocalist Eric FORREST 7 years to release this new & fifth album "Mindbender" .. 7 years... it's long... but not that much considering the band went thru line-up changes, a new drummer Patrick Friedrich and a new guitarist Sébastien Chiffot (Evilness, ex-Ouroboros) have joined the ranks - i guess it took them some times to work hard together to get the machine back on the tracks ! Add to this, this fuckin' pandemic period, a label's change as well.. so.. all this is rather comprehensive...
Well, from the first notes, what really hooked me is the production. It's damn HEAVY and rather CLINICAL at the same time, a bit like VOIVOD's "Negatron" or stil CORONER's "Grin" - it's cold, mechanical with kinda futurist arrangements - and crystal-clear - you can perfectly hear all instruments - all well-balanced in the mix for a very enjoyable & captivating listening !
Now musically we have here hyper-compact songs which at first, may appear to us as simpler and more direct than what the band has done previously, but fact is that they are worked to the bone and multiple listenings will be necessary to extract all the richness of this album ! E-FORCE keeps on distilling its kinda great-quality futuristic/cybernetic cold-as-ice THRASH METAL with an ease and mastery that commands respect and admiration - it's maybe too late to say, but that album is among the best releases of 2021 i have heard so far ! Not a filler here, only killers and not a boring minute ! Hard-hitting THRASH METAL songs of course with the opener "Provocation", followed by "Traumatized" : 8 minutes that plunge you into their dehumanized universe with heavy riffs, very sustained rhythms, incredible yet very fast & short lead-guitars and Eric's specific harsh type of vocals .... the band knows how to slow the tempo down too, but when they do, it's like to nail you deeper and harder like on "Hellucination" - on that song, as well as on some others too, the band use kinda electro-indus-noisy intros - pretty enjoybale I must say !
Halfway through the album, the band calms things down with "Futures Past" - a rather ambient track with very dark touches, synthetic atmospheres where Eric's voice is threatening, cold but also somewhat desperate and always a guitar slow and clear that ends the piece in a haunting way...
We then go on with "Mindbender", a cold and captivating song from start to finish with unhealthy melodies, which strike you with murderous riffs and whose tempo-changes will confuse you for sure !
"Dehumanized" puts your head under water again with its well-thought-out industrial cold arrangements and wears your brain out thoughout its 6 minutes... it's cold, harsh, clinical.. to a point you can't imagine !
"Delirium" is a song I like a lot - that's direct, straight to the point with dissonant guitars on a well weighed chorus and we can find a real "Negatron/Phobos" side in the riffs, necessarily mixed with this so distinctive voice - but also with its hovering interventions, while "Deranged" has a more aggressive approach with still that kick-ass type of chorus - catchy as fuck - with hammering drums and dissonant guitars !
To close this bombastic album, a re-interpretation of VOIVOD's "Insect" (from the 1995 album "Negatron") - very faithful to the original and yet still just as DEADLY !
I definitley recommend this album to all VOIVOD freaks worlwide, for it is fresh, innovating - and could be easily the continuation of what VOIVOD did with "Negatron/Phobos", a band's era that is too much ignored if you ask me, which was nevertheless qualitatively speaking irreproachable ...
Eric continues to do with E-FORCE what he created with Away and Piggy for VOIVOD at the time, and would, in a perfect world, with this new album "Mindbender", bring everyone to their knees, so this album is rich, diverse, well thought-out and above all very personal !
"Mindbender" is a SMASHER ! Go for it !
Born 1969, grew up with the NWOBHM sounds, musically educated with cult french magazines that were ENFER and METAL ATTACK, definitely nailed to the style when "The Number Of The Beast" by IRON MAIDEN was released... From 1982, it was clear life would never be the same ! Young & getting wild to the HEAVY sounds of SAXON, VENOM, BLACK SABBATH, MOTORHEAD, Young Fab also discovered thanks to school mates the NOISE, FILTH & FURY of Hard-Core/Punk bands like G.B.H, DISCHARGE, BROKEN BONES but also CRO-MAGS, BAD BRAINS, FUGAZI... and later on, through the 90's, everything that was ALTERNATIVE, EXPERIMENTAL, GRUNGE, INDUSTRIAL (SONIC YOUTH, NINE INCH NAILS, SOUDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS)... Passion & curiosity grew up as years went by ... Fate was SEALED... no turning back ! No Music = No Life !