Review Summary: Where are you Gorod? Why can't I find you...
"2012 album from the French Prog/Tech Metal band. A Perfect Absolution is heavier, more Progressive, and catchier. Features, awesome guest solos by Christian Muenzner (Obscura) and Mike Keene (The Faceless)."
This is the description one would read were they to look up French tech metallers Gorod's newest offering, "A Perfect Absolution." While the first statement is an unarguable lie, the other two seem to hold true. Does this more progressive and catchier approach work? Quite frankly, it fails miserably and details the falling back to the pack Process of a New Decline only slightly forshadowed for this band. With this release, Gorod lose Gorod, and without the Gorod, Gorod is just another (mediocre) tech band.
How did Gorod lose it? Did they get too tech at the sake of songwriting? Did they forget how to write songs not so blatantly focused at Necrophagastian climaxes built around singular leads or solos? Did they choose a new vocalist who embodies every poor deathcore vocal stereotype? A little bit of all these things? What changed? Well, for this release, almost the entire band. A new vocalist, guitarist, and still newly packaged (though he was also on Process of a New Decline) drummer only make it natural for a change in sound to take place. (This reviewer is still unsure of the line-up on Transcendence, but the new band really became "the" band on this release). This change is drastic and focused. Sadly, it's not focused on delving further into a challenging tech death listen. Rather, it's focused on a streamlined, typical shake-up with slight demonstrations of the Gorod of Christmas past.
The album is not bad by any means. After a shot of ambience, opener, "Birds of Sulphur," explodes on the listener. It's an assault that, though restrained, sounds like a reinvigorated Gorod, a track that could fit perfectly on PoaND, with a ferocious metal attack that leads to that typical, jism-inspiring ending fans of the band have come so accustomed to hearing throughout the entirety of individual tracks on previous albums. "5000 at a Funeral" is fantastic, every bit the more progressive and catchier Gorod at play, succeeding based on the infectious guitar/piano interplay beginning the track, cool as the other side of the pillow chorus, and basic Gorodiness. It is a completely realized track, interesting from start to finish. Carved in the Wind (the hands down best song on the album) is every bit a classic Gorod tune. It builds and builds, with interesting riffs, a little fancy bass, and THAT jazz part. One of the most, as Thor would put it, "***ing awesome mah dude yo yo" parts Gorod have done. Playful, catchy, progressive, had they made an album with 5000 and Carved over and over, I'd give it a 4. Sadly, they did not.
The most noticeable shortcoming of "Process of an Americanization of a French Metal band" is new vocalist, the aptly named Julien "Nutz" Deyres. To say it's the worst vocal performance in the history of music would probably be a bit brash, so it won't be said. Suffice to say, to avoid saying too much already, he's awful. Range is a good thing in any vocalist, but there's a limit. What would you rather eat, a delicious bakery cookie or a 10 pack bag of assorted cookies at the 99 cent store? He's all over the place, but his only truly successful style comes when posturing their former vocalist. When jumping into new territory (spoken word, cleans, yells, spoken word, spoken word), he is laughable. Varangian Paradise would be a good track if it didn't seem like the song was written to let Nutz do more spoken word (Oh, the really deep Mike Patton spoken approach, how unique and different for this genre, oh wait). And that "There is only one...GODDDDD" part in "Elements and Spirits" is atrocious as is the borderline crabcore sounding layered cleans/harsh chorus of "Axe of God". Yea, I like when Avenged Sevenfold does that, but not my Gorod. Gorod was about hairyness but Nutz must be hermaphoditical in nature, because he brings so much pussy. The old vocalist knew when to be sparse, but Nutz rubs his smelly, typical nuts all over everything. I was exhausted by his approach by the end of Axe of God on my first listen.
Music is about music in the end though, and on A Perfect Absolution, the "it" factor is gone. Sure the drums are technical as the dickens, but all of the finesse has been sucked out. It sounds like endless pounding start to finish. I only appreciate that in the bedroom. The bassist does not have the chunky presence of old, disappearing for most of the affair. The guitars are front and center and I can't gripe with them in any obvious way. They're technical and catchy, and are really the last remaining remnant of old Gorod. More often then not, the problem is, they aren't treading any new ground. Solos of old (let's say, those contained in "State of Secret") were not the entire focus of songs. Rather, they were natural extensions. They were not only good, but they felt urgent. More than any other band, Gorod's solos "spoke" to the listener. All the tricks used on "A Perfect Absolution", however, have been used before and grow tired, along with the vocals that make me tired, and the drummer that never tires, tiringly. When they try something new with the guitars, it sounds forced and tacked on, only present to present a faux-progressiveness meant to appeal to new fans. Even the highest points on this album don't contain the compositional brilliance of tracks like "Disavow Your God" or "Almighty's Murderer" or "Neuronal Disorder State." "Tribute of Blood" is by far the worst song of Gorod's career, mostly because not a single moment sounds original on the entire track. I know it's all been done before, but Gorod should not have done it again, and the song fittingly ends unstaisfyingly, much like what the entire album delivers.
Let's make it personal. Gorod was my favorite Metal band. If I had to pick five metal albums to play for the rest of my life, Neurotripsicks, Leading Vision, and Process of a New Decline would all be choices. That Gorod, however, died with Transcendence. The Gorod of "A Perfect Absolution" is a completely different band, a "New" Gorod. It's clear this release was aimed at appealing to a wider, more American metal audience. The challenge of the album is not within a compositional discovery or a technical discovery, but rather not becoming exhausted. It's 38 minutes of exhaustion by an overwhelming underwhelmingness. Newcomers looking for a more digestable Gorod will be delighted. Returning fans looking for another more often than not brilliant piece will be extremely disappointed.