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Friday, September 6, 2013

Gorguts - Colored Sands (2013)

Band: Gorguts
Country: Richmond, Canada
Style: Technical/Progressive Death Metal
Label: Season of Mist

Gorguts are pretty much a legend in the death metal genre at this point so the arrival of a new album comes plenty of hype. I'm no exception towards excitement towards this album, I was looking forward to this (probably) just as much as anyone else. The three new members of the band only increased my interest in hearing how this album would sound like.
I don't think it's any stretch to say that this album lives up to all the hype it's been getting. Everyone usually (but not always) comes into reunion albums with a certain amount of skepticism, and that's fair, many reunion albums have failed to live up to the hype, but there are obviously those that do live up to it. In the case of this new album from Gorguts, it surpassed any of the expectations I placed on it. Apparently influenced by groups like Opeth and Porcupine Tree, Luc Lemay set out to write a more progressive oriented album, and boy did he ever. Even if those are the bands he took influence from, the links I drew sonically were more towards groups like Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, and Ulcerate (but that's just me). The songs have a frenetic quality to them but always feel in tune resulting in a sound that feels like every note is bringing the song ever so closer to just teetering on the edge before falling off. It's a sound I've fallen in love with in recent months and this is probably one of the best instances I've ever heard it used. Plenty of groups are ripping off the groups above, trying to do chaotic and dissonant black metal or do the whole "post-death metal" thing, but this is by far one of the best examples of a band embracing modern sounds while doing something completely fresh without abandoning their older, trademark (if one could say that) sound.
The addition of Kevin Hufnagel, John Longstreth, and Colin Marston have greatly added to what makes this album so great. Even though Lemay has said that he wrote everything (with the exception of Forgotten Arrows, which I think was written by Marston) and the rest of the band simply added in their own flairs, what an impact they leave on each song. Just the tones on the instruments clearly give a indication to what player brought to the table. They bring small traits that you can link back to their other groups, for instance, all throughout the record, Marston's bass tone always had me thinking back to his warr guitar work in Behold The Arctopus. But really that's just one aspect to this record, the performances. The production on here is just stellar. It's so naturalistic sounding, the guitars aren't uber distorted, at times they sound cleaner than distorted. I love the way the bass cuts through the mix while not purposefully attempting to stick out for the majority of the album. And then there's the drum tone which is nice and naturalistic sounding. The kicks aren't overly triggered sounding, the snare is nice and poppy, and the floor tom(s) just boom. The entire things sounds so amazing.
The songwriting is perhaps the one thing that's lacking, in a sense, because I didn't find that there were any moments where a song just stood up and said, "Remember me!" But this isn't really music that is supposed to do that. However, that isn't to say that these songs aren't memorable, I found plenty a riff to stick with me after the album had finished. Guitar harmonies that weave in and out of each other with bouts of dissonance as well as hard bass lines have proven to have stuck with me longer than several catchy melodic songs I've heard this year. There's a quality to the songwriting that is just so intriguing and memorable that I can't help but love it.
Frankly, this is an album that just gets better and better each time I listen to it. I love the sound of it and I love the way the songs are constructed in ways that are always keeping the listener interested and on edge. It's great, and that's about all I can say. If you haven't heard it yet, what the hell are you doing?
Overall Score: 9.5
Highlights: Every Track Is A Highlight

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