1. Le Toit Du Monde|
2. An Ocean Of Wisdom
3. Forgotten Arrows
4. Colored Sands
5. The Battle Of Chamdo
6. Enemies Of Compassion
7. Ember's Voice
9. Reduced To Silence
There really must be something in the water up in Quebec (either that or the weed's out of this world), because for some reason Montreal and the surrounding area has churned out some of the finest tech-death bands in existence over the years, alongside the mighty Kataklysm and their Roman brothers Ex Deo of course.
Gorguts are a band that anyone who knows their death metal will tell you to listen to if you want to appreciate technical heavy music. "Considered Dead" and "The Erosion Of Sanity" are landmark albums in the development of tech-death as a sub-genre, and while "Obscura" is widely considered a challenging album to grasp, it is also seen as an undervalued masterpiece. It was here that Luc Lemay and co began experimenting with their use of unorthodox rhythms and dissonant chords, and in the process changing the face of metal.
This album was almost technical beyond comprehension at the time of its release and helped introduce bleak, post-rock soundscapes into death metal. This album helped influence many new school bands in a big way, from Germany's Obscura, who went so far as to name themselves after the landmark release, to New Zealand's Ulcerate, who have incorporated a similar style into their own music from the beginning. However, after following up Obscura with "From Wisdom To Hate" Gorguts ceased to exist in the aftermath of their drummer Steve MacDonald's suicide. Many thought this was the end of an era.
Or so we thought...
Last year rumours surfaced regarding a new release after a reunion took place in 2008 with Lemay drafting guitar virtuoso Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia), bass genius Colin Marston (Krallice, Behold... The Arctopus, Dysrhythmia) and extreme drummer extraordinaire John Longstreth (Origin, Dim Mak, Angelcorpse). This new lineup had many music nerds like me excited as to what they would produce, and the answer is this curious beast.
This album continues Obscura's legacy in fine fashion, but has definitely been streamlined and includes some less dissonant passages to introduce new fans to the band, albeit in a better fashion than on "From Wisdom To Hate". Lemay has allowed his fellow band mates to take the reins to a degree as well, with Marston and Hufnagel contributing "Forgotten Arrows" and "Absconders" respectively.
This album definitely took me a few listens to assimilate properly, Luc Lemay has written a very clever album that must be absorbed slowly to fully appreciate it. The first half of the album is based on the concept of Tibet and the selection of a new Dalai Lama, with softer parts to counter the atonal madness. "An Ocean Of Wisdom" has a wonderful clean bridge section before returning to the pounding rhythms of the track, as well as a wailing solo. The title track contains a strange yet surprisingly catchy clean-picked intro before the thundering bass and twisting rhythms. The dividing moment of the album is without a doubt "The Battle Of Chamdo", an instrumental piano driven track composed by Lemay and accompanied by several violins, showing a more melodic side to the album as a whole while still remaining dark and forboding in places. The second half of the album is dedicated to some of the tragedies that have befallen Tibet over the years, and also highlights the non-violent philosophies of the Tibetan people. Kevin Hufnagel's track "Absconders" really throws its weight around as possibly the most expansive track on the album. Hufnagel's droning playing style and spacious chords really fit well with Luc's vision for Gorguts future. Lemay is a truly understated genius in terms of progressive/technical death metal. His talent for atmosphere and dynamics alongside clever note groupings and rhythms is truly astounding at times.
This is a triumphant return for Gorguts. Many people (probably those unfamiliar with Gorguts) will doubtless make comparisons to Ulcerate among others, and while Ulcerate have no doubt taken inspiration from Luc Lemay and co., this is the master showing the students that there is still much for them to learn about crafting mesmerising atonal soundscapes and combining it with crushing death metal. While you may not necessarily absorb all of this album (certainly not on the first listen), and this album is definitely not for everyone, there is something to surprise you every time and this expansive new release can be a very rewarding experience indeed. Please don't make us wait another 12 years Luc.
For fans of: Ulcerate, Cryptopsy, Immolation
Colored Sands is out now on Season Of Mist Records
So after 3 weeks of nothing I've finally resurfaced, I've found some form temporary employment and I start uni again in a matter of days, so now I have some routine in my life again I will try to have another review that's already in progress done by the end of the week. Until then, stay metal \m/