Last night I drove to Dundee to watch the new Lamb of God documentary ‘As the Palaces Burn‘ I listened to Voivod‘s third album Killing Technology (1986).
Voivod, from Canada, were one of the first metal bands I got into along with Celtic Frost, Metallica and Slayer. Plenty of friends, both then and now, listened to Killing Technology and simply couldn’t understand what I heard in “that noise”.
As I drove north through the cold, dark, wet night beyond St Andrews towards the Tay bridge I was reminded of similar nights as a young teenager growing up in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders trying to make sense of life. This album is now inseparably fused with my memories of those early years. But I suppose it’s not so much sentimentality as thankfulness.
There’s an unpredictability about this album. There’s a boldness and a fragility, that saw me through many an early crisis. This is the music that gave me hope, that no matter how unclear or uncertain I was about how life may turn out it would be an adventure, and that life… LIFE… was bigger and more incredible and wondrous than the small glimpse that I saw as a frightened teenager peering between his fingers in a sleepy Scottish Borders town, wondering if his dad would ever be okay again (he had three brain haemorrhages in 1983), worrying about how his Mum was coping, as well as all the usual teenage stuff (spots, girls, school) and occasionally wishing that he could just escape. And this was one of those albums that helped me do that but remain there at the same time.
I listened to this album in the car last night, in the dark, through the rain and fog, and I remembered listening to it on my personal cassette player back in the late 80s. I remembered walking down Forest Road on a cold and moonless winter’s night, probably having taken our dog Zen for a walk, and I felt thankful. I felt thankful for the love and support that I got from my parents as I grew up. I felt thankful for the group of friends who accepted me as we were trying to figure out how this life thing worked. I felt thankful for the hours of music, on miles of cassette tape, that helped me through it all; music that challenged me, that opened my eyes and ears to ideas beyond my homely little cottage on Forest Road.
I listened to this album in the car last night for the first time in years, and while I acknowledged all of that, that history, I simply marvelled at the genius of this album that I don’t think Voivod ever surpassed on any other album (as brilliant as they also are).
Another bonus is that the production is such that the frequencies don’t get lost amidst the rumble of the road while listening to it in a car!
It’s funny how deeply attached I feel to the third albums of these four bands, my big four:
- Voivod—Killing Technology (1986)
- Celtic Frost—Into the Pandemonium (1987)
- Metallica—Master of Puppets (1986)
- Slayer—Reign in Blood (1986)
Even now when I listen to it my soul sours, it still makes me smile, it still delights me after all these years, and it still surprises me. This is music that continues to give me life and bring me hope.
For me this is an almost perfect album.