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Gorguts the brand name, not the band - 0%

bitterman, September 4th, 2013

Strange dissonance, odd chord shapes, tortured vocals, and non-linear song structures are all Gorguts bring from their past to this album: a modernized, normed version of their previous album made palpable for the modern metal audience. It seemed a disaster was well in the making. First, the Negativa album was dismal - a watered down, compromised version of Steeve Hurdle's unorthodox approach to music making. It could be said his absence was the reason From Wisdom to Hate was a step down from Obscura, being a more straightforward affair in regards to arrangements and even an emphasis on more simple "hooks". Finally, there's the fact that Luc Lemay can be seen wearing a Tool shirt in a promo pic and recent interviews claiming Opeth and Porcupine Tree influenced the writing of this album. The fact that he began writing this album after temporarily disbanding the group to pursue outside interests suggest the passion was lost, and now he's trying to reclaim his position in the "dissonant, technical death metal" sphere after realizing Ulcerate and Deathspell Omega have become ever so popular.

The inclusion of the musicians from Behold... the Arctopus seemed like another nail in the coffin. These guys never released anything that wasn't a calculated, meticulously crafted turd. Sure enough, Gorguts have released a turd as well. An album that could snuggly fit in with the "edgy" death metal Unique Leader and Willowtip records have been trying to convince people was "the new thing" ever since 2007, but with the Gorguts brand name attached to it.

First, the concept of this album is just stupid. From a band that went from dumb lyrics (Considered Dead) to lyrics that embody a wide range of abstract emotions and a view dissociated from social norms (Obscura), this albums lyrics are the cheesy, P.C. type of lyrics one can expect Job for a Cowboy to write if they felt "artsy". From the rhyming words to the basic concepts about "the wheel of time" and "enlightenment" (borrowed from Tibetan monk ideologies), they come off as poorly stitched together thesaurus abuse from the teenage version of the Decrepit Birth vocalist attempting to be "deep" after reading the lyrics to Cynic's Focus. If you were looking for the lyrics to match the music, look elsewhere. This has Gojira-esque slacktivist propaganda peddling written all over it (look at the cover art). Words thrown on top of sound with no correlation.

The music seems like From Wisdom to Hate on the surface. Strange, eerie dissonance and unorthodox musicianship is only a mask for rather plain music with simple goals. Rhythm holds together a series of suspended notes into grooves, that while not chugga chugga, were clearly designed for head nodding. The blasting sections seem more akin to what Immolation did for a good amount of time on Close to a World Below, as a break between grooves and slowly lurching parts that seem more like what a "post-sludge" band would attempt. Now, this is the problem. The music moves in easily defined sections, a doomy groove, blasting, dissonance... and they feel hastily stitched together into a working structure. While Luc Lemay retained his attention to making these songs hold together somewhat, they don't feel like something that flows together, like the stream of thought that every song on Obscura can be said to be. This is a step down from previous Gorguts material's aspirations toward being seen as artistic statements and reducing any potential found here to being what could be expected from metal, reverting to the ghetto that the genre's song writing was outside of Gorguts and Immolation in 1998.

While all this would be bad by itself, it only gets worse. After a "classical instrumental", which feels grossly out of place (never mind lacking in comparison to, say, the short but highly evocative intro to Condemned to Obscurity from the Erosion of Sanity) next to the ill conceived simple metal masked in layers of dissonance in the most bratty and over demonstrative manner imaginable, comes the second half of the album. Here, Gorguts just get boring. The "post-sludge" elements are in full effect on these crawling tracks that feel more like the Dillinger Escape Plan covering Cult of Luna songs while doing tortured Lemay vocals over it. The songs have a lot of padding and really say nothing at the end of the day. According to Luc Lemay, this is his attempt to take the Gorguts sound into more "ambient" territory by utilizing his Opeth and Porcupine Tree influences. Unfortunately, it's just dressing up the music, not expanding it. Clean guitar interludes are thrown in haphazardly as well, bringing to mind bands like Ulcerate who came in to the music scene with Gorguts styled music that didn't approach their complexity. What's more alarming is that while you can separate the album into two halves, they are only distinct on the grounds that one is faster than the other. All the tracks share similar moment to moment song structures that give the whole package a uniform feel, making it seem like a small series of ideas divided unevenly between the 8 metal tracks.

Gorguts here is not a group of worth anymore. Before Gorguts made music out of layers of dissonance that sounded like abstract thoughts translated into sound - a full spectrum of emotion presented in an unorthodox work which transcended the standard death metal genre limitations, breathing new life into metal not just stylistically, but with its content as well. Here, Gorguts sound like a group of dispassionate musicians who treat their sound only as an aesthetic brand, and accomplish little more than making a highly polished piece of trash given the Gorguts surface treatment that gets really predictable and boring very fast. The instrumental skill is still there, but it all adds up to nothing worth listening to aside from a demonstration of unorthodox instrumentation. If this album didn't have the Gorguts name attached to it, it would just be another "post-death metal" album in the sea of them, with nothing to really set it apart aside from Luc Lemay's tortured vocal delivery. Vapid, but also another depressing display of musicians using a successful name but not keeping the standard of quality associated with it.