14. Gorguts - Colored Sands
Now is the time I give credits to a local band! Death metal legends Gorguts originally hailed from Richmond, a town not so far from Sherbrooke, the city I live these days. Though, they're not based there anymore; the band now consists of local hero Luc Lemay plus three honorable american contributors.
Whatsoever, myself and a lot of my friends had been waiting on the new Gorguts album for years. I remember being in a Montreal record store about two years ago and hearing their tour manager speaking about how the new record was going to be revolutionary, comparing it to Obscura
in levels of progginess (okay, it wasn't that in the end, but still). I had also heard of the album's concept for ages: about Tibet's culture and history. When the first single, "Forgotten Arrows" finally came out, I was really excited, and then pleased. Its complex riffing, its acoustic guitar overlays and its titanic ending projected something monumental. Still, I couldn't get rid of my usual skepticism towards cult bands coming back after hiatuses.
A few months later, I managed to listen to Colored Sands
. The opening track, "Le Toit du Monde" ("The Roof/Top of the World" in French), starts off with out-of-this-world drumming by John Longstreth, enhanced by the wonderful sound engineering done by Colin Marston and Luc. It then follows with a gloomy semi-clean part with creepy muffled vocals in the background, before exploding into typical Gorguts fury, reminiscent of 2001's From Wisdom to Hate
, but with extra soul-cleansing dissonance and exotic-sounding harmonies. Of course, Luc's colossal vocals, which you can't really tell if they express whirling agony or just pure boiling rage, were still there. The album has a general majestic, dramatic feeling, similar to what is found on recent Immolation records, but done in a more mysterious and intriguing way, and with a bit more despair and pain, thanks to Luc's voice.
Another remarkable point was the very original guitar playing, including an extensive use of natural harmonics on the guitars. Also, the most efficient moments are, in my opinion, the slower, ultra down-pitched meditative parts layered with aerial acoustic and electric guitars or deep ritual throat singing. The key method to approaching those dense parts and in fully appreciating them is to let the streams of sounds envelop you, to let yourself go to the overwhelming (and somewhat cozy) low frequencies and menacing drones.
When I was finished hearing the title track, I already knew that Gorguts had made an impressive comeback, a lot better than Carcass and others. That's when I met with the album's biggest surprise: "The Battle of Chamdo". It basically is a twisted contemporary classical piece written by Luc Lemay and interpreted by a string quartet. It's got some kind of a worrisome feeling; it probably paints a perfect picture of the ancient battle mentioned in the title of the track. The middle part of the song and its reprise at the end are definitely my favourites, with their haunting, spectral melodies.
After this softer track, Luc then decides that the listener's resting time is over, throwing at him the album's hardest hitting tune, "Enemies of Compassion", with its pummeling polyrhythmia leading into cathartic tribal percussions and then into sheer chaos. Other highlights were the crippled doom giant that is "Absconders" (listen to it and you'll probably understand why I use the word "crippled") and the closing firestorm that is "Reduced to Silence".
I had the immense pleasure of witnessing the whole album, except for "The Battle of Chamdo", played live on their last tour and it only confirmed how much I love this album. When a band achieves the feat that is blowing Origin off stage, it's something. Get this album. Now.
Enemies of Compassion