Fans of Canadian experimental-metal band Voivod are known for their open-mindedness, so drummer Michel "Away" Langevin is hoping they'll embrace his new band Kosmos — even though the group's music is more meta than metal.
Inspired by '70s Krautrock bands like Neu!, Faust and Can, and more obscure bands including Birth Control and Omega, Kosmos combine the majesty and complexity of heavy prog rock with the effect-laden otherworldliness of space/psych rock.
"With a name like Kosmos, I hope people are expecting something pretty experimental," Langevin said. "[Late Voivod guitarist Denis] 'Piggy' [D'Amour] and I had been listening to this kind of music since the mid-'70s. I've always enjoyed these bands that create strange progressive music mixed with avant-garde stuff, so I figured, 'Well, why not put together a band like that?' "
Langevin formed Kosmos in early 2006 with Paradise guitarist Jetphil, Groovy Aardvark and Grim Skunk bassist Vincent Peake and keyboardist/programmer Alex Crow. The band also recruited admired underground Montreal musicians to guest on its self-titled debut: Xavier Caféïne, the singer for punk band Caféïne, provided vocals to a cover of Gong's "Much Too Old"; and Lucien Francoeur of the '70s experimental band Aut'Chose did spoken word on "Amerique Innavouable."
"Piggy and I actually helped re-form Aut'Chose with the original guitar player and singer for a one-show, one-album kind of thing," Langevin said. "And we played a few shows with them in 2005. It was actually the last show Piggy played before he took ill."
Kosmos, which comes out September 4, is a mostly instrumental collection of songs that sound like a bizarre hybrid of Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Amon Düül and horror-film-soundtrack band Goblin. But while songs like "Krautrock," "Psycho" and "Grand Grizou" are filled with expansive jams, mind-bending rhythms, clattering electronics and dueling guitar and keyboard solos, they're structured with both entrancing groove and compelling diversity.
"We worked hard on it, but it was fun," Langevin said. "We did it bit by bit over a period of nine months. After it was finished, we sent it to the End Records, [which signed Voivod,] but it's so experimental, we didn't think anyone would be interested. And then they got back to us and ended up singing us for three albums. So now we are writing new material. It's specifically a very fun project that turned more serious than we expected."
After the album is out, Kosmos may do some touring, but as for Lanvegin, he's focused once again on Voivod. He recently finished remastering the band's 1986 album, Rrröööaaarrr!, and editing a bonus DVD that will accompany the re-release of the LP in the fall. The package will be filled with live and demo recordings that were sold in the '80s via the band's Iron Gang fan club; fan-recorded footage, including the group's first U.S. show, an opening gig for Venom; rare archival photos; and cassette recordings dating back to 1980. "I found an early tape of Piggy doing an avant-garde collage of sounds that's very good, so that will be a bonus on Rrröööaaarrr! as well."
The Rrröööaaarrr! reissue will be followed early next year by reissues of 1987's Killing Technology and 1988's Dimension Hatröss, which will be similarly equipped with bonus DVDs. After the first batch of reissues come out, Langevin plans to work on reissues of 1991's Angel Rat and 1993's The Outer Limits. He's negotiating to put out 1989's Nothingface as well but is running into some red tape.
"We had a deal back then where it was distributed by MCA in America and Noise in Europe," Langevin said. "And right now that's causing some logistical issues that we need to settle before I can start thinking about that."
Langevin also plans to begin work on a box set of Voivod's '90s catalog, much of which featured Eric Forrest on vocals. As if that's not enough Voivod to shake a psychedelic stick at, next year Langevin will assemble two proper Voivod DVDs, "D-V-O-D-2" and "D-V-O-D-3," to follow up 2005's "D-V-O-D-1." These discs will feature the professionally filmed material lacking from the album-reissue bonus DVDs.
"There's a lot of good material that I'm putting together," Langevin said. " 'D-V-O-D-1' took me a while to do because I had to track down all the footage, which was shot on videotape in the '80s. But 'D-V-O-D-2' will feature stuff from the '90s, and that's in a very good format, and 'D-V-O-D-3' will feature the lineup with [bassist] Jason [Newsted], and all that footage is on digital, so those should be much easier to do."
And lest anyone forget, Voivod still have an album of new material to record, using the last batch of recordings Piggy made before he died. Originally, Voivod planned to track the 13-song swan song this summer, but Newsted's shoulder injury — which he sustained in October 2006 trying to catch a falling bass amplifier head — is delaying it until around September.
"We have to wait until Jason is healed 100 percent from the surgery he had on his shoulder," Langevin said. "I know that he's jamming right now, but he can't really play professionally until it's all healed. But when he's better, we want to get together in one studio — instead of three different studios in three different periods of time, like we did for [2006's] Katorz. Last time everything happened in difficult conditions. This time we want to make things easier for ourselves and take more time to make a really special record."
The rest of the week's metal news:
With President Bush's term winding up, it would seem Ministry's Al Jourgensen would either have to find someone else to pick on or cash in his chips and call 'er a day. Well, Al's chosen the latter — he'll issue Ministry's "last-ever" LP, The Last Sucker, September 18. "I [kind of] like the synchronicity of Dubya and Ministry riding off into the sunset hand in hand," Jourgensen joked in a press release. Look for the effort to feature 11 tracks, including "The Di-- Song," "No Glory" and "Die in a Crash." ... Job for a Cowboy, Despised Icon, A Life Once Lost and the Faceless will hit the road together in August for a string of U.S. dates. So far, the bands have booked a total of 10 gigs. Dates are scheduled from August 13 in Troy, New York, through August 28 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with more gigs to be announced in the coming weeks. ... In related news, A Life Once Lost have completed work on their next LP, Iron Gag. The disc lands in stores September 1, and will include "Firewater Joyride," "All Teeth" and "Others Die." The ALOL recently shot a clip for "Firewater Joyride," and they've posted several snaps from the shoot on their Web site. ...
Coalesce's 1999 effort There Is Nothing New Under the Sun, will be reissued August 7 with eight additional tracks. The original LP included seven songs — all of them Led Zeppelin covers. The version that hits stores next month will also include two new original songs, along with renditions of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut," Boy Sets Fire's "Vehicle" and Get Up Kids' "I'm Giving Up on This One." ... On Tuesday, Legacy of the Catacombs, a CD/DVD collection chronicling Nile's career, will land in stores. The set features a dozen tracks from the Ozzfest 2007 act, and the DVD features tons of studio footage, along with all the band's various videos. This offering comes in addition to Nile's new studio album, Ithyphallic, which is set for a July 20 release. ...
Arsis has been forced to drop off the Summer Slaughter Tour, which runs through Sunday in New York. According to a statement from the band, which had been touring in support of its latest release, United in Regret, "Everything was going great for us until we reached Sacramento, California. After that show, our van began to give us trouble — which surprised us, since the van had just been in for repairs twice before the tour even started and we were sure the problem had been fixed." In short, Arsis' van has been inoperable for two weeks, and they've gone broke paying for repairs and hotel stays. Hence, they'll be unable to rejoin the tour, which stops in Worcester, Massachusetts, Friday night (July 6). ... Pelican and Clouds will team up later this month for a run of shows that'll cut through the Midwest and up the West Coast. The first show is set for July 31 in Atlanta, and dates are scheduled through August 22 in Iowa City, Iowa. ...
Australian Christian death-metallers Mortification have postponed the U.S. leg of their forthcoming tour due to "time restraints in securing performance visas," the band explained on its Web site. "We hope to be back in the U.S. as soon as it becomes feasible," Mortification wrote. "All good things come to those that wait." The group will soon issue a concert set, Live Humanitarian, which will contain 16 songs and a DVD of goodies. ... Hardcore legends Christ on Parade are reuniting for a series of shows, beginning with a pair in Berkeley, California, July 27-28. The guys are also set to play San Francisco (August 2 and 18); Portland, Oregon (August 3); Tacoma, Washington (August 4); and Seattle (August 5). ... Floridian black-metal force Kult Ov Azazel have begun writing material for their next album, which has been titled Destroying the Sacred. Look for the LP to feature 10 tracks, including "Prelude to Holocaust," "Slaughter the Prophet" and "The Lucifer Principal."