We’ve got a couple reasons to be celebrating the mighty Canuck sci-fi thrash warriors Voivod right now: the band is getting ready to drop their new album, Synchro Anarchy, on February 11, and they’ve also been confirmed to play the upcoming Decibel Metal & Beer Fest: Philly 2022. Then there’s the upcoming documentary, the fact that they just completely rule… I mean, there’s no reason to not have Voivod on your mind right now.
So to keep the flame burning, we caught up with bassist Dominic “Rocky” Laroche to find out what five heavy albums changed his life. To Morgoth! (Not the band!)
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast (1982)
I was 12 years old when I started learning electric bass and listening to heavy metal. The first two albums I bought were At War With Satan (Venom), and The Number of the Beast. At that time, I was hesitating between learning bass, guitar, or drums. You can guess that the first time I heard Steve Harris play and saw him in action in the video “The Number of the Beast” with his foot on the monitor confirmed to me that playing bass was really cool! Anecdote… The first time I rehearsed with my first band, before I even played the first note, I put my foot on my amp thinking it would help my first performance… and it did! [Laughs] So this album, of course for its songs, but also for the great playing of Steve Harris, who made the difference in the choice I made over 35 years ago to play bass, still today and forever my first passion!
Metallica – Kill ’em All (1983)
Bass solo, take one… “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth,” (the segment before the drum kicks in) was my first bass exam, in front of my classmates when I was 13 years old. I can say that Cliff Burton is in my top five bassists. He made me realize that it was possible to take the lead on the bass with a fuzz, and that heavy metal came from classical music. “Motorbreath” was the first song that got me into the thrash metal wave, and “Whiplash” is my favorite song from that album. The garage ambience and their teenage attitude make this album one of my favorite of Metallica. Whenever I feel old, I just have to listen to Kill ’em All and instantly I feel young and it brightens up my days!
Slayer – Reign in Blood (1986)
“Angel of Death”… at 1:38… that guitar riff! I first heard it at school at lunchtime. That was my introduction to Slayer at 14. The next day, I jumped on my bike to buy the cassette! 28 minutes on both sides with the same 10 songs… on a loop in my tape recorder… while I was rolling a 200 cigarettes tobacco box… with my headphones to take care of my family’s ears. Sure, it’s healthier to listen to metal than to smoke, but that’s how it was! I’m always impressed by someone who sings and plays bass at the same time, and Araya is a master in this field, especially on this great album! I feel privileged to have been able to attend the Slayer concert at the Agora du Vieux-Port de Québec on June 14, 2004 where they played the entire Reign in Blood album. It will remain engraved in my memory!
Voivod – Dimension Hatröss (1988)
This album! Even though today I’m part of this legendary band since July 2014, I’m first and foremost a fan, since I was 13 years old. I will always remember the summer of ’88, when Voivod released Dimension Hatröss. It was a revelation! I listened to this concept album every day for a year… it became like an addictive meditation. A world you need to escape to. No other music will have made me travel in this strange universe. It is so unique. Just look at the video clips “Tribal Convictions” and “Psychic Vacuum”’ and you will understand what I mean. It gave me a different perception of music and connected me to a higher level. At that time I was playing in a band where we were trying to create our own songs, and it made me realize how much chemistry Voivod had to have with each other to create that kind of concept, and that working as a team made all the difference. When I listen to Dimension Hatröss, I imagine that the band is connected to something from a parallel universe. I see that music has a great influence on every cell of our body…. and probably on our DNA. This is in my top three Voivod albums… and my first choice of any style! Thanks to Piggy, Blacky, Away, Snake and [producer] Harris Johns for this masterpiece.
Meshuggah – Chaosphere (1998)
I have to say that at the end of the ’90s, and for almost 10 years, I was a little less into the metal world. At that time, I was part of some funky blues rock projects. In 2008, upon arriving home after a few gigs and several hours on the road, I noticed that a friend had posted a link on my FB page to a music video entitled “New Millennium Cyanide Christ.” I was tired but I clicked on the link anyway. After one listen, I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I definitely felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time while listening to music. After a second listen, the “metal string” inside of me started to vibrate again. I immediately bought the album. For the next two months I listened to Meshuggah and reconnected with the world of metal! It confirmed [to] me that metal is part of my roots… Metal once, metal forever!