Review Summary: Colored Sands can be viewed as the culmination of Gorguts’ peerless sound, an impeccable balance of their past efforts reinterpreted by fresh blood
Rising from the slumbers of a 12 year studio hiatus, the pivotal death metal act Gorguts woke to find themselves in a precarious situation. The technical death metal scene in 2013 is a stark contrast to what we saw in 1998, when the now legendary Obscura dropped. With the scene populated by hoards of bands hell-bent on playing faster, heavier and more complex than ever before, modern tech-death is in dire need of fresh air. This is where Gorguts come in, with nothing less than the weight of the death metal world on their shoulders. Nobody expected them to release another Obscura, but at the same time these guys – simply by virtue of baring the name “Gorguts” – were expected to breathe new life into a genre long considered dead, hearken to their roots and release something game changing while simultaneously avoiding repeating themselves.
It’s a tough task, but everyone can breathe a sigh of relief when I say that Colored Sands
eclipses expectations comfortably. The first 30 seconds of this album will cast aside any doubts or worries you might have had, the sound is distinctly
Gorguts in spite of the new line-up. The thick atmosphere and hypnotising guitarwork have been preserved beautifully, but at the same time this doesn’t really sound overtly similar to any of their previous records. It’s a new direction for the band, while stylistically it comes across as an amalgamation of everything they’ve done before. Colored Sands takes the aggressiveness of the debut and blends it with the atonality of Obscura
, while the writing cues are largely taken from their 2001 effort From Wisdom to Hate
. This musical jigsaw puzzle is then infused with the atmosphere of The Erosion of Sanity
, courtesy of some excellent production. It only takes a few seconds to recognise just how sublime the sound engineering and mixing on this album is. There is a meticulous attention to detail concerning clarity and dynamic range, exemplified perfectly by the slower, acoustic sections. The slower, quieter
sections do more than just break up the album and give it time to breathe but actually add to the overall experience. Many serve as precursors to sudden assaults of chaos such as in the opener “Le Toit du Monde”, and the dynamic range assists the heavier sections in terms of both substance and impact.
Thanks to the production, both guitars and the bass perfectly audible in all their twisting, lurching, soaring glory. The bass work in particular is astonishing; rhythmically underpinning the guitars but rarely imitating. The final two tracks in particular really showcase the bass work at its best. As the guitars are busy closing off this monster of the album on an atmospheric, timbre-conscious note, the bass takes the lead, subtly driving the album home as everything erupts around it in a symphony of organised chaos. At times, the guitars forsake any concept of “lead” and “rhythm” rolls, dissonantly intertwining in an endless flood of atonal tag-teaming, like a pair of pair of serpents in a ferocious yet graceful battle to the death. The performance of Origin drummer John Longstreth is the most reserved but no less calculating or impressive than the other instruments. “An Ocean of Wisdom” – with its multiple tempo shifts and hacksawed structure – is perhaps the best example of the man’s dexterity, as well as his ability to keep the beat no matter what the rest of the band throw at him. Certainly, the newest recruitments by Luc Lemay – who by the way delivers an absolutely tortured vocal performance – hold up the legacy of the Gorguts name without fail.
But Gorguts are about more than just hyper-technical instrumentation, and this is where Colored Sands
has ultimately proven its worth in such a discography. Very few even dare to imitate the Quebec foursome, as every album of theirs possesses a clear artistic vision, largely devoid of obvious outside influences but instead the desire to push boundaries. While Colored Sands
forgoes a lot of the signature “quirkiness” and doesn’t defy convention like Obscura
, it is a prototypical Gorguts album in every sense. Expanding on the more progressive direction they had taken prior to their hiatus, Colored Sands
is a more cohesive, and certainly more accessible effort than their previous two albums. The tracks manage to avoid predictability very well, but the song-writing patterns and climaxes become perfectly obvious as they’re presented to you incrementally. The immediacy of the album is impressive considering that every listen still manages to present something new, resulting in an album that continuously builds on itself rather than unravelling after initially appearing to be a cacophonous mess. As a result, there is pretty much inexhaustible replay value, and soon enough you’ll find yourself addicted.
can be viewed as the culmination of Gorguts’ peerless sound, an impeccable balance of their past efforts reinterpreted by fresh blood. It’s absolutely no surprise that this album turned out to be top notch, simply by virtue of who’s behind it. No matter what they attempt; be it riff-laden brutality, an unhinged, sprawling cacophony or a dark everglade of atmospheric discord, this Canadian quartet consistently prove themselves to be the cream of the crop. Colored Sands
is a more than worthy addition to Gorguts’ immaculate catalogue and is one of the quintessential releases of 2013.