Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gorguts - Colored Sands

Twelve years is a long time.

After the release of From Wisdom To Hate, Gorguts went silent. We saw new bands rise up and push the boundaries of the extreme metal umbrella. Gigan with The Order Of The False Eye, Ulcerate with Everything Is Fire, Deathspell Omega with Fas, Flourishing, Crowpath, Mitochondrion, and more have all experimented and taken extreme metal beyond the archetype much like Obscura did back in 1998. The forward-thinking metal movement doesn't have an end goal in mind. To quote Ulcerate, "the axiom of being is infinite."

Gorguts have returned with one of the most exhaustive, powerful listens of 2013: Colored Sands, a thematically singular slab of death metal that oozes Himalayan beauty.

Merging melody and dissonance is hardly an easy task yet Luc Lemay and co. have done it seamlessly here. Riffs roar into life, meander, and rediscover their original purpose but with no detriments. Many of these riffs are vibrant, colorful in texture and with plenty of compositional decoration. Like an ode to the convoluted nature of life, Colored Sands is wonderfully complex. Time signatures blur together, effects trail off the end of tracks ("Forgotten Arrows"), and some of the most mindbending solo guitarwork I've heard in recent years ("Enemies Of Compassion") all culminate in this release being one of the best this year has to offer.

Everything on Colored Sands has a purpose; everything is intentionally composed in such a way to give meaning to the individual tracks. Like all great albums, it's the little things that make Colored Sands so special and separate it from the rest of Gorguts' discography. As preview track "Forgotten Arrows" begins blasting itself into oblivion, it pulls itself from the brink stronger and more massive than ever with a bunch of bass hits to the face. "The Battle Of Chamdo" is an exercise in Luc's classical training with a real orchestra and unlike most 'orchestral' sounds, it fits the theme and feel of the album. The soft orchestral moments blur over into the explosive intro of "Enemies Of Compassion," my favorite track on the album. The main riff bursts and bubbles like superheated magma, and the track explores the sonic scenery a little before returning for an incredibly chaotic solo. The sustained notes that pop up towards its end are magnificent and send chills down my spine every time.

I can't say I wasn't a tiny bit skeptical with Colored Sands, as I tend to be with most things. I liked the crew Luc assembled for this album, although each members' individual acts are a bit removed from the Gorguts sound. The preview track from 2011 was alright but left me wondering if the new members' influences would overshadow the Gorguts' feel and luckily I was wrong. Colin Marston, Kevin Hufnagel, and John Longstreth have all proven their versatility before but on Colored Sands you can hear them adapting perfectly to a different sound. Speaking of outside influence, the angular "Absconders" is an interesting track in that it distinctly sounds like something Deathspell Omega would write with Ulcerate-esque effects and linearity. Even the name sounds very Deathspell Omega-ish. I like it, and to me it's like Gorguts' giving the nod to all the bands which are similar in musical ideology.

Now comes that obligatory time in which I mention the production and mixing - it's borderline perfect perhaps minus the bass drums' sound which sounds a bit too tinny but at the higher speeds it keeps the mix from being muddy. I'm sure a select few will undoubtedly complain how Colored Sands is heavy and complex without the "darkness" they associate with death metal, as most of the composition is very odd or melodious.

They've missed the point completely.

9.25 out of 10

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
8. Absconders
9. Reduced To Silence

Bandcamp (I assume it'll be available on release - it's currently streaming on Spotify)

Here's a cool interview about the concept of the album.


  1. Hey brilliant review, enjoyed the read and agree with your points (esp the near perfect production). Feel free to check out our (Metal Music Blog) review linked below \m/