SKULL494

E-FORCE, The Curse…  (2014, Mausoleum)

The skull:
Hubba hubba! Here we have a scene depicting the goings on at some German strip club, around 5 AM, in which twins Grunhilde and Brunhilde get all kindsa cray-cray together after a long night of dancing. The wall of the club where the twins strut their hot stuff is painted to depict a skull upon a moon-like planetary surface. The skull looks on, impossibly frustrated with the scene before him. He looks on sternly, and jealously, thinking: “God damn it, I forgot to bring paper money. These girls aren’t gonna give me the time of day.” This is the curse of the skull.

The music:
It’s impossible to listen to E-Force without putting them in the context of the Voivod timeline. The band’s main selling point, of course, is that bassist/vocalist Eric Forrest filled some gigantic shoes when he joined Voivod in the mid ’90s, fulfilling both the vocal (Snake) and bass (Blacky) duties, replacing those who are impossible to replace. Negatron is a rare low ebb in the band’s discography (although it certainly has its moments), while Phobos found the reinvented Voivod finding their feet. Forrest sounded for-real on Phobos, not forced and out-of-place as he did on Negatron. And that was it for Forrest-era Voivod. While the guy never seemed entirely integrated as a Voivod member, he got close and performed well enough, especially in the live setting where the band remained at the top of their game. And let’s face it: the cards were stacked against him from the start. Voivod reunited with Snake, and eventually with Blacky too, and Forrest wasted no time forming this band. E-Force was first based in Quebec, but when Forrest moved to France, the membership changed accordingly. And here comes the sad truth: E-Force is not a great band and The Curse…, their third, is not a great album. Forrest’s vocals are raspy, aggressive modern thrash shouts, akin to a metalcore kid trying to sound like latter-day Darren Travis (Sadus), and the chunky riffs are the same faceless things we’ve heard played over and over again in countless other modern thrash bands, or by old-school bands who now sound thicker and chunkier and appeal to the young’uns who weren’t even born when Pleasure to Kill and Infernal Overkill were released. There’s energy in abundance here, and they’re all technically good players. Glen Drover even pops up as a guest soloist, but unless you worship the last few Destruction albums, post-Max Sepultura, and the last couple Kreator albums — and you surely could be into worse music than that, of course — then you probably don’t need to bother with this. Even a Voivod completist like myself draws the line at tangential branches of the family tree like this one. Union Made…Echobrain…E-Force…hardly mandatory stuff. [Apparently it’s not the curse of the skull we’re witnessing on the cover, but, according to the final song on the album, “The Curse of the Cunt.”]
— Friar Wagner

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