Canada’s Gorguts may be just about one of the most important bands in extreme metal history. With such classics as Considered Dead and Erosion of Sanity in their discography, they helped shaping death metal in its early days. Just like the godfathers of the death metal scene, Death, however, Gorguts eventually injected their own take on the sound, pushing the genre into new progressive and technical realms. In 2013, after the band’s second hiatus, Gorguts returned with Colored Sands, and set the new standard for technical death metal. After some pretty extensive touring, the Canadian tech-gods have bestowed a new blessing upon the faithful in the form of Pleiades’ Dust.
Never afraid to shy away from high-concept material, Gorguts may have just released their most challenging record yet. Clocking in at around 33 minutes, the album consists of one continuous song that tells the story of “The House of Wisdom,” a library in medieval Baghdad during the Golden Age of Islam. This library was the source of many technological breakthroughs in its time, and the stories surrounding it make for some pretty cerebral material, a task that Gorguts are well-equipped to take on. The music on this record is very emotional, with riffs that evoke moods that range from chaotic rage to blissful serenity, with a mysterious undertone that remains a constant factor. In the quieter moments, there is a bit of a Middle-Eastern sense of melody, similar to some of the more melodic moments of Melechesh’s catalog, which is very befitting of the subject matter. The pacing of this album is handled so expertly you’d almost think there ARE multiple tracks, rather than movements of the same song. In not splitting these movements up into separate tracks, though, Gorguts manage to push the listener into listening to the album as a whole, which is ultimately a more rewarding way to enjoy an album anyway.
The production on Pleiades’ Dust perfectly captures the mood of the music, as well as highlighting the exceptional musicianship on display here. While frontman Luc Lemay has a powerful voice that is given plenty of boost in the mix, the real highlights are the maelstrom virtuosic guitar and bass-work. Fans of Colin Marston will be able to pick out his distinctive style of bass playing, which acts almost as another guitar, with all of his fret-board tapping, although he also knows when to push the lower end of his sound, giving the overall tone a crushingly heavy feel. The guitars are often simultaneously hypnotic and brutal, with scales and odd time-signatures weaving in and out of chaotic (yet insanely heavy) riffs. What Gorguts have, and which many of their imitators lack, is the ability to play ridiculously technical music that is still listenable for casual listeners that just want to listen to something heavy.
Fans of the previous record will definitely get a kick out of this, but I would certainly recommend Pleiades’ Dust to anyone that likes concept metal albums. Gorguts continue to change the rules, and are still trailblazers in a genre they helped create, and prove it with this latest release. For the best listening experience, I’d suggest headphones in your room, with the lyric sheet close at hand.