Review Summary: Where has Gorod gone?
A Perfect Absolution starts us off with an unsettling backtrack of horns and drums which swells and cuts off suddenly as the vocalist tells us redemption only comes from the sky. Guitars and drums then immediately set the breakneck pace for an album that makes a solid argument for Gorod's place among their technical peers but also leaves room for expansion and growth from the whole band.
The album's opening certainly grabs your attention but it comes off a bit gimmicky, perhaps something a younger band might put on their teenage debut. However, things improve. The next 35 minutes or so show some amazing technical ability and musical knowledge from every instrumentalist. They know how to effectively apply theory to create a very dark feeling and then cut through with a major sound that adds emphasis and diversity when they want.
Gorod does not use their technicality to cram as many notes down your throat as they can but, rather, craft riffs that are surprisingly accessible and memorable by using similar ideas and phrasing. This approach creates songs that stand apart from each other enough so that they don't blend but also sound like they belong on the same album.
Few are the complaints I have with this music. Production, I think, is the biggest issue. As with many tech metal albums the drums are too clean and subdued which doesn't sound appropriate with guitars that have been left with a more raw sound. And the bass should have been brought forward in the mix so it wouldn't be drowned out by the drums.
Some of A Perfect Absolution's biggest flaws lie not in the music itself, but in the fact that it is a Gorod album. If this was any other band's release I would probably be more willing to praise it as a wonderful tech/prog metal album. But this is coming from Gorod, the same band that released the stellar Leading Vision, which is a little disappointing. While definitely still present, the jazz influence is just not as strong in this album. There are certainly jazzy parts, such as the beginning of “5000 at the Funeral” or the bridge section of “Varangian Paradise,” but those are slowed down, played with a clean guitar tone and not incorporated into the heavier or more technical parts of the songs very well or at all. Speaking of which, the writing on this one is just not up to par either; not bad but more forced and disjoint than the natural progressions we're used to. The change in sound is most marked by the new vocalist who is good, he shows range in his low growls and high screams, but he uses a sing-scream that is just not welcome on a Gorod album.
With A Perfect Absolution Gorod releases a solid album, it's just not a solid Gorod album. The music is really good, well written and interesting, technical but tasteful. It's just not what this band is capable of.