Review Summary: Gorguts go prog
Often imitated, yet barely matched in his innovative approach to metal at large, Luc Lemay is the creative force and only remaining original member behind the Quebecois Gorguts collective. His creative energies have given the metal universe some of the most forward-thinking records of their time, regularly used as templates still even in today's landscape. Colored Sands
is no exception. But to take a historical perspective, legions of acolytes over the past fifteen years enshrine 1998's Obscura
as a technical death metal gospel of sorts, for good reason. From a recent interview with Loudwire.com, Lemay suprisingly noted "I don't have enough of a good ear to pick up songs by ear. What I remember is more like physical memory, so to speak, on the neck" - in reference to whether or not Gorguts would follow the trend of classic groups performing full, critically acclaimed recordings like Obscura
on tour. Perhaps it isn't so surprising though, that Gorguts' maestro doesn't necessarily have perfect pitch in that his songwriting methodology is one of microscopic details, a combination of techniques that may not necessarily lend to a reputation for being an iconic shred-master so to speak.
Twelve years after their last outing, the new incarnation of Gorguts includes Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston of Dysrhythmia semi-fame and John Longstreth on drums from Origin. As their backgrounds would suggest, their chops leave nothing to be desired. But the real technicality here isn't just instrumental on an individual basis; it more-so requires a macro view. Where prior releases fell more into the realm of a raging, polyrhythmic tech-death nightmare, Colored Sands
takes yet another step in the direction of the compositional experimentations on 2001's From Wisdom To Hate
. The follow-up brings even more ideas to the table, immediately unlocking riffing in opening track "Le Toit du Monde" that could just as well be at home on an unshi
tty era Opeth record. Yet Gorguts' trademark dissonance-come-insanity is fused in the very fabric of each section, lending a dose of controlled chaos to the near classical designs and atmospheric build-up of "Colored Sands".
As an entity, Colored Sands
is largely an experimentation in dynamics, swelling at times while restraining itself when the Gorguts of yore would have exploded into a flurry of blastbeats and notes. While impressive, it's not a far cry for one of metal's principle modern innovators to change
. "The Battle of Chamdo" is an odd excursion and a prime example of this wanderlust, a foreboding classical piece that completely eschews even the concept of distortion at large. The track's final segue leads directly into the blistering "Enemies of Compassion", an obvious transition to climax of collected energy. The record's latter half is as much of a powerhouse as the former. "Ember's Voice" is a mid-tempo offering, closing with a truly tortured solo, while "Absconders" slows the pacing down to a crawl, engaging in a classic slow, atmospheric death metal groove.
But Colored Sands
certainly comes to a close in grand fashion. In what will surely be remembered as a tech-death epic, "Reduced to Silence" brims with nearly every idea discovered over the previous eight tracks as a brilliantly articulated genre-thesis on dynamics. While the Luc Lemay of the 90s may be hardly recognizable at this point, Gorguts is better for it, manipulating not only dynamics and tempo, but also finding a way to let their (/his) extreme brand of technical metal actually breathe
. Colored Sands
is exactly what a Gorguts record should sound like in 2013 and will surely breathe for years to come.