At its best, death metal pushes boundaries. It is striving music: play faster, shred harder, growl harsher, and delve deeper into the seedy recesses of human behavior. Its lust for extremity can produce absurd excesses at times. But when coupled with clever songwriting, death metal’s innate drive can move mountains.
For a few years in the late ’90s and early ’00s, Gorguts pushed one such boundary — weirdness—to the limit. Obscura (’98) and From Wisdom To Hate (’01) are two of the trippiest, most dissonant death metal recordings ever. But despite the onomatopoeic riffs (clang! skree! whumpf!), Gorguts wrote indelible songs that you could remember, and even yell along to with some practice.
Gorguts dissolved in the early aughts after drummer Steve MacDonald’s suicide, but mastermind Luc Lemay reformed the band in 2008 and has been working toward their long-delayed new album ever since. There might be cause to worry about Colored Sands, which drops on September 3rd in the States, if it weren’t for the insane lineup that Lemay secured — Dysrhythmia technicians Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston (also of Krallice) on guitar and bass, and virtuoso journeyman John Longstreth on drums.
Though Lemay has been Gorguts’s only constant through their 24-year run, the band has never been a dictatorship; their music is a collaborative endeavor. You can hear the new group’s fingerprints on “Forgotten Arrows,” like Marston and Hufnagel’s love for chiming natural harmonics and Longstreth’s push-pull blasting. But the key identifier remains: it fuses darkness and light like all of Gorguts’s best material, which is enough to put Colored Sands in the early running for best metal release of 2013. Listen.
Gorguts tour dates:
09/05 – Springfield, VA @ Empire *
09/06 – Raleigh, NC @ Hopscotch Festival
09/07 – Wilimington, DE @ Mojo 13
09/08 – Worcester, MA @ Palladium
* = w/ INTER ARMA
Colored Sands tracklist:
1. “Le Toit Du monde”
2. “An Ocean Of Wisdom”
3. “Forgotten Arrows”
4. “Colored Sands”
5. “The Battle Of Chamdo”
6. “Enemies Of Compassion”
7. “Ember’s Voice”
9. “Reduced To Silence”
Colored Sands is out on 9/3 via Season Of Mist.