It’s always nice to see people and things you haven’t in a long time. We’ve had a nice bit of that in metal this year, haven’t we? Bands we haven’t seen in a while, new records that made our collections that much more exciting, and tours worth getting off our lazy asses to go see.
Personally, I’ve had a few nice surprises this year. Those lads and lady in Bolt Thrower returned to our shores to devastate us on a few tour dates and an awesome, albeit mildly interrupted, appearance at Maryland Deathfest. It was my first chance to see the band, and getting to experience the UK legends in the flesh was unforgettable. Carcass also appeared on that fest, and they even are headed back with a new album we’ll talk more about in a few weeks. That might be the biggest surprise of the whole year, especially with how it sounds.
Another strong comeback comes via Gorguts, the Canadian masters of technical death metal that’s been away 12 long years and missed out on a huge wave of new bands following in their footsteps, turning the sub-genre into something of a messy phenomenon. The world could have used this Luc Lemay-led band in order to have some proper direction of how this stuff is supposed to be done and how to prevent the style from having a soul. Yeah, these guys always have been a band to wow you with their prowess, but their music always had a heart and personality that helped it rise above just being a mind-blowing display of musicianship. Needless to say, this band was missed, and the announcement Gorguts would be revived with an interesting new lineup was music to our sick hearts, culminating in “Colored Sands,” the follow-up to “From Wisdom to Hate.”
Yes, Lemay remains your unquestioned leader, handling guitars and vocals and exposing his disgusting thoughts to the world. Joining him is a virtual all-star cast of insanely accomplished underground metal musicians including guitarist Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia, Vaura), bassist Colin Marston (Krallice, Behold … the Arctopus, Indricothere), and drummer John Longstreth (Origin, Dim Mak) who practically turn Gorguts into a supergroup. They definitely hold their own to maintain this band’s legend and capably push the group into the future.
“Le Toit du Monde” kicks of this nine-track, 62-minute ripper, and you know within the first few seconds how much this song is going to rule. And that’s exactly what it does over its running time, blasting you with devious growls, slick and tricky guitar work that both shreds and astonishes, and portions that dive right into the pools of prog death. “A Ocean of Wisdom” follows, starting as a harsh, ugly demonstration of power but eventually finding time for atmosphere and melody. It’s mystical and airy at times, but it’s only temporary as scorching soloing follows, and the dry thrashing makes you feel like you’re crawling through an unforgiving desert. “Forgotten Arrows” is interesting because it keeps building up and subsiding, letting the guys work through the madness, visiting prog, thrash, and death equally. There is a lot of weirdness and dizzying playing, but it’s always fun and invigorating. The title track has a long, introspective opening, and after it establishes itself, it drops 50 tons of cement on you, keeping it thick, suffocating, and bruising. The dynamics of this thing are just breath-taking.
“The Battle of Chamdo” is the oddball, and instrumental built on synth-based strings and sweeping over like a piece soundtracking the opening credits to a gory action film where ancient forces are looking to shed blood. “Enemies of Compassion” is rightfully titled because it takes no prisoners and looks to exact as much damage as humanly possible. “Ember’s Voice” has a weird, slurry opening that sounds like the song was treated with a nice, thick cough syrup, and though it can be sci-fi-laced and loopy, it’s also pulverizing and mean. “Absconders” runs 9:09 and begins crushing with reckless abandon, paving the way for crushing, off-kilter mashing, a lumbering trip out of control down hill, and a savagery that sounds like it’s being carried out by a deadly machine with zero compassion. Closer “Reduced to Silence” ramps up quite strangely, which certainly isn’t a bad thing, and while your mind is trying to catch up with the band, they sneak up and wallop you with an insane intensity. The growls come from Lemay’s mouth like a rabid foam, and when the song finally dies down to a simmer, you know it’s just getting ready to boil over again and scorch which, as I’m sure you guessed, it totally does. It’s an awesome, relentless finish to a brilliant record.
So, welcome back, Gorguts. What an intense way to remind us you are the masters of this style of death metal and that we all missed you so. “Colored Sands” is an incredible return for the band and one that injects newfound bloodthirst into the death metal genre. This is one of the most formidable, impressive lineups anywhere in metal, and I hope they have more than just this one record in their canon.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.gorguts.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://e-shop.season-of-mist.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/