Review Summary: Gorguts create a fascinating narrative that uses music as its main vehicle to tell a story.Gorguts
is one of those bands that are always expected to push the envelope with each new release. Since their formation, the group has delivered some of the most well remembered technical death metal albums. Their debut, Considered Dead
, was a showcase of raw brutality and power. Then came Obscura
, which left its mark thanks to its bizarre experimentation and dissonance. After releasing From Wisdom to Hate
disappeared for more than a decade. When the band came back with Colored Sands
, a creative and mighty reflection on Tibet's culture and conflicts, they showed they were still at the top of their game. When Luc Lemay, father of this insane project, announced that the next release would be a single, half an hour long track, he set huge expectations.
The first thing that I noticed is how the song takes inspiration from a variety of musical genres, making it Gorguts’
most dynamic work to date. Influence from black metal pioneers Deathspell Omega
can be heard on heavier parts of the piece, while calmer parts remove other instruments seamlessly. One of these ventures into a mesmerizing ambient passage that accomplishes a lot with utter minimalism. But perhaps the biggest influence on the track is classical music. Despite being a single piece, it is broken down into movements, each with its contribution to an overarching narrative, and a distinct, memorable sound. Even though the highs and lows are radically different from each other, everything is tied together coherently.
The album also bursts with creativity thanks to the way the EP was composed. Luc created the overall structure of the material and established the underlying mood, and then gave Kevin Hufnagel, Patrice Hamelin, and Colin Marston the opportunity to handle it as they saw fit. All of them are remarkably talented musicians, and their contributions to the music are evident. Kevin, creator of the band Dysrhythmia
, is a master of guitar playing and dissonance. Patrice presents a surprising diversity in his drum playing, sometimes even taking the spotlight with his powerful presence. Colin, also a bassist in Dysrhythmia
, and producer of this EP, perfects its sound giving texture with his bass playing. Last but not least, Luc delivers the trademark Gorguts
screams and lead guitars, which have a dominant strength that guides the flow of the song.
But perhaps the most impressive element of Pleiades' Dust
is the way it builds an engaging narrative throughout its 33-minute length. The song chronicles the rise and fall of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. The lyrics describe how the house came to be in times of darkness. Scholars began using ink to record what they knew, and then built walls from stone to store their writings. Soon, this effort became an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, where insight was translated and put together in compendiums. The city reached a golden age of wisdom and prosperity that was harshly interrupted by the Mongol invasion of Baghdad. Rivers of blood and ink are pictured, as well as a return to the dark ages from which the House of Wisdom once rose: what began as dust returned to dust.
The storytelling is not limited to the lyrics, however. The music takes the central role as the narrator of this tale. At the beginning of the track, the group repeats musical themes, as if the library was being built brick by brick. After this, the music ventures into calmer sections that suddenly erupt into aggressive and chaotic passages, which represent very well the obsessive hunt for wisdom. The song then switches to the ambient passage, that feels like entering into the mind of a scholar, completely enthralled studying the works of the library. The peace is suddenly broken, as riffs that sound like a marching army take over. The music turns the most chaotic on this last movement, matching the described atrocities of war. Almost at the end, the opening riff is reintroduced, showing that everything came back full circle. As the music fades, one is left back in total silence, in a new age of darkness.
managed to bring this ambitious idea to life in a way no other band could. The mesmerizing technicality of the song makes this a very tough but rewarding listen, where each detail perfectly fits together. Pleiades' Dust
stands as a landmark achievement, where music and narrative intertwine themselves flawlessly. I am sure I will be coming back to visit this compelling story time and time again, to lose myself in its sea of books and exceptional sonic landscape.