Review Summary: Gorod's weakest album has the band straying further from their death metal roots and, as expected, succeeding more often than not.
I've always differentiated between Necrophagist and Gorod much in the same way Nick Butler explains the difference between Yndi Halda and the bands they seemingly derive from. To be specific, that Necrophagist write songs that lead to a singular climax (in most cases, a solo or a lead); this puts them in the Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky mold, while Gorod have always compared comfortably to Yndi Halda, in that their climaxes (very rarely a singular solo) are often encompassing parts of a larger, more cohesive and already strong sound. While this is still the case with Process of a New Decline
, Gorod have for the first time taken a step in the opposite direction. For the first time, Gorod has me thinking they've, if only at times, stumbled towards adequacy. And they've done this while trying to do exactly the opposite.
What that means–the notion of them stumbling towards adequacy by attempting so vehemently to deny it–is that Gorod has attempted to do too much, too quickly. Process of a New Decline
does its best to mix Neurotripsicks
' harsher, more varied vocal attack with Leading Vision
's hyper-melodic, almost mocking demeanour. Where they struggle is in the attempt to combine the two sounds while still attempting to progress beyond them. This is something I feared upon the announcement of a new drummer. To first make it abundantly clear: Sam Santiago is significantly better than ex-drummer Sandrine. It comes naturally: she is a woman, I am a sexist. But his virtuosity, if you can call it that (and you wouldn't be wrong if you did), propels Gorod to new, eccentric heights. It allows “Programmers of Decline” and “Diverted Logic”, the band's worst sequence of songs (and sequentially the bands worst songs since the Gorgasm days) to be little more than overbearing, borderline masturbatory spells of jingo-jango (what?) technicality. Most importantly “Programmers of Decline” embodies the earlier notion that Gorod might be drifting towards their contemporaries rather than further above them. While by no means a bad track, it's certainly a step-away from intriguing; that is, of course, until the highly francophonic sounding, neck-snapping groove that end-caps the otherwise adequate song, thus tricking the listener into thinking what he heard was anything but ordinary. And ordinarily, ordinary isn't a bad thing, but with such high expectations, it's hard not to feel a little let down. Of course it isn't all bad (well, “Diverted Logic” kind of is), since “Programmers” does make use of Santiago's expertise in providing varying speeds that flip-switch between a surprisingly punky intonation and a relatively strong Gorguts inclination (his start-stop-blast instinct is prevalent throughout the album). It just also makes me miss Sandrine's restraint (which admittedly can be chocked up to a lack of talent) which was a welcome pacemaker for the band's likelihood to occasionally go balls-to-the-walls (this is not a shout out) insane.
Harping on the band only makes the album seem worse than it is, though. Process of a New Decline
is quite good, actually, but it certainly does nothing to prove the cliché of 'third time's a charm'. It isn't. Charming, however, it occasionally is. As they started doing on their last album, Gorod have maintained a real sense of enjoyment and fun in their playing, embodied in part by bassist Barby's propensity and paradoxical ability to both shred uncontrollably while still maintaining a melodic backbone for the rest of the group to build off of. The guitars have only gotten better and, to some extent, a little sillier. Arnaud and Mathieu will and should be remembered for their work on this album. It succeeds at being both rhythmic and wankish, and at times, almost mocking. Whether it's the extended dual-tap-a-thon that highlights the already outstanding “Disavow Your God” or the smaller bouts of 'na-na-na-na-boo-boo'-like leads that are laced throughout the album, their spider-fingered propensity is endearing and impressive enough to make even the most cynical baby boomer ask “Eddie Van-Who-len?”. If you're wondering, that's a really expansive (read: long-winded) way of saying that most-everything that's defined the band in the past has remained. Oh, and the solo at the end of “Guilty of Dispersal” is awesome.
So what went wrong? In truth, very little. The only real problem with Process of a New Decline
, besides Guillaume's sometimes inconsistent, frequently layered and massively varied vocals is that there's just too much of it. Surprising, since the album clocks in at a modest 50 minutes. It's just that it tries to cohesively be both fun and aggressive, melodic and technical and usually all at once. It works surprisingly more often than not, but it results in Process of a New Decline
being a surprisingly draining listen. A grower, for some. But if you've got the patience you shouldn't be disappointed. It might not be as breezy of a listen as you'd like, and as a result you might find yourself drifting before it's over, but Gorod have crafted yet another album that works from front to back. The experimentation is so-so: the cyber-clean, Cynic-influenced vocals are more of a shock than they are necessary, but the band's spacier, more drawn out passages are a welcomed and unique change for the band. Thing is, they're usually all part of the same track (notably “Watershed” and “The Path”), which is just a further testament to how dense and overwhelming this album can be. But calling Process of a New Decline
anything but a success isn't fair. Neither is calling it a disappointment, because it's not. At least not entirely. Though it is certainly their weakest output yet, Process of a New Decline
nonetheless makes it a point to look down on its contemporaries, but in a strengthening, burgeoning scene currently being revitalized by the return of proto-powerhouses Cynic and hopefully Atheist, Gorod has some tightening up to do if they want to hold their crown.