I find the world of technical death metal to be incredibly stale and lifeless. There are so many bands that do very little in the ways of song writing that grabs me, and instead they would rather you focus on how well the group plays their instruments, let alone contributing any sort of evolution in the genre of death metal as a whole. However, there are a few bands that I will have an undying love for that are not only technically proficient, but ones that helped push the limits of death metal, and Gorguts is among those ranks.
Now, after 12 long years, “Colored Sands” is the first look into this new incarnation of Gorguts, and being armed with the knowledge of this album having more of a tie-in to the now legendary and ground-breaking album “Obscura” (and ultimately the now defunct project Negativa), I was beyond excited to see what Luc Lemay and Co. could come up with.
One would think that after being dormant for more than a decade, a band would come out swinging for the fences, right? Well, “Colored Sands” sort of does that with ‘Le tout de monde’; an aggressive, original sound, yet it conveys a great deal of emotion and an ethereal atmosphere to it. Usually it would be very difficult for an album to keep this momentum throughout its entirety, but Gorguts makes it look incredibly easy to a point where it’s rather intimidating. No matter which song you choose to single out, you’ll always notice the abundance of “Obscura” that just oozes out of it, and that is a sound that just gets me.
Musicianship is absolutely paramount in technical death metal, and I must say that the additions of Colin Marston (bass; Dysrhythmia), Kevin Hufnagel (guitar; Dysrythmia), and John Longstreth (drums; Origin) could not have been a better choices. I would assume that each one of these guys not only owned and wore out their “Obscura” records when it first came out, but they digested it to a point where it has become a part of their musical DNA. This makes the recording of every instrument and every tormented howl perfect in this musical chaos.
All this time I have been gushing about how great “Colored Sands” is when it comes to carrying the torch that “Obscura” had lit, but how does this album compare to its predecessor?
It is very easy to go through “Colored Sands” a few times and label it as “Obscura 2.0” and be done with it. However, I will say that while I love “Colored Sands” as a whole, I believe it is not a better album than “Obscura“. I remember the very first time I heard the despondent and destructive nature of ‘Nostalgia’ way back when, and I haven’t found anything in “Colored Sands” that matches the intensity and adrenaline that was pumping through my veins. I think ‘An Ocean of Wisdom’ comes close, but ultimately “Colored Sands” will forever be in its forefather’s shadow.
Despite what the last paragraph may say about the similarities between the two albums, “Colored Sands” is one that should not be missed. When most reformed bands say their newest album is going to be a “return to form”, they are mostly full of shit and you will get whatever rehashed b-sides came from the fanbase’ overall preferred era. However, when Gorguts said this would be a continuation of what Negativa was supposed to be, an “Obscura” influenced avant-garde tech death band, they weren’t kidding. Nothing about this album feels forced or contrived; all you get is exactly what the band had promised.
I hope that all of you new technical death metal bands out there are paying attention, because fuck you and your boring sweeps and arpeggios, and learn how to actually write a good song.