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Technical Death Metal w/ a Healthy Shot of Melody - 88%

tektryk, June 29th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Willowtip Records

Technical death metal is an interesting beast. Full of virtuosic riffing, complex time signatures, and frenetic songwriting, it can be a tough genre to appreciate beyond the obvious skill involved. Too often, albums by technical death metal bands tend to be exercises in ability rather than listenable records (see Viraemia or Rings of Saturn for recent examples). France’s Gorod took a different route with their 2006 record Leading Vision. Fusing absurd levels of proficiency with hefty doses of melody and at least one ‘earworm’ per song, Leading Vision stands out as one of the most listenable and entertaining albums to come from the filigreed depths of technical death metal.

“Here Die Your Gods” serves as an introduction to Gorod’s amalgam of spiral guitar riffs and punchy songwriting structure. Nothing stands still as the concept of ‘riffing’ is stretched to its absolute bounds; the sheer volume of notes would strain even the most talented transcriber. But for all its technical splendor, “Here Die Your Gods” maintains a melodic element that keeps the listener engaged. You can tap your foot, more or less, in time with the rhythm even as your fingers vainly try to air guitar along to the aural insanity. Specific sections are too numerous to name, but “Chronicle From The Stone Age” and “State Of Secret” are perhaps the best examples of Gorod’s songwriting ethos. Arnaud Pontaco and Mathieu Pascal have crafted ten songs of varying identities, replete with a lifetime’s worth of ideas. From the eerie harmonizing of “Edaenia 2312” to the acoustic outro of “Hidden Genocide”, there is much to hear and, fruitlessly attempt to, hum.

For an album filled to the brim with aggressive growling and song titles like “Life Controller” and “Hidden Genocide” there is a lightness to the production that keeps proceedings upbeat, even when the music is trying to draw you to the dark. “Obsequium Minaris” has a gritty, doom-esque feel to much of the riffing, but the crisp tone of the guitars and the flat tone of the drumming prevent the song from dragging the listener down. It’s a neat trick, and it wouldn't take much to convince me that groups such as Obscura and The Faceless referred to Leading Vision as an example for the mixing and mastering of their own work.

Lyrically and vocally, Leading Vision falls shortest. Granted, it’s nearly a contradiction in terms to listen to technical death metal with the expectation of the vocalist being the strongest component, but it’s not impossible (just look at Spawn of Possession or, to stick within the genre if not the style, early Cryptopsy). Gorod’s singer Guillaume Martinot performs admirably, occasionally utilizing a higher shriek to punctuate what would otherwise be a monotone mid-level bark. But it’s this lack of variety that keeps Leading Vision from ascending from great record to ‘ambassador of the genre’. The bottom end of this record shines more than most metal albums. Benoit Claus’ bass and Sandrine’s drums keep pace, time, and energy with the sonic whirlwind swirling above them. There aren’t many female drummers in metal, and, while she’s no longer with the group, Sandrine’s performance is made all the more impressive by the fact that she doesn’t rely on the start/stop blast beats so common to the genre; nuanced playing, heavy cymbal work, and the occasional breakneck tempo shift mark her contribution as something special.

Leading Vision is an excellent album, and while not indicative of technical death metal as a genre, has certainly earned its place as one of the best albums to come out of the French metal scene. Both too melodic and too full of fretboard acrobatics to be easily classified as either melodic death metal or technical death metal, Gorod forged their own path, one that served as a blueprint, for better or worse, for much of the current metalcore/deathcore that has abandoned simple Slaughter Of The Soul worship. Full of exciting riffs, scorching solos, and even the occasional aural curveball, Leading Vision has held up well in the near decade since its release. Gorod has yet to surpass Leading Vision's quality, but with rumors of a new record in the works, now is the perfect time to remember why you should get excited anyway.

Highlights:
"Blackout"
"Chronicle From The Stone Age"
"State Of Secret"

Ridiculously Perfect - 100%

MetalStrikesDown, February 12th, 2009

Not many times can someone listen to an album and say they honestly cannot find anything wrong with it. Leading Vision is one of those albums for me; no matter what I think of, I can say that there is not one single second of this album that does not make me want to listen to it over and over again. One other draw to this band is that even though it is Technical Death Metal, they are not just making the songs to "show off" their skills, obviously they are showing off but they have made the songs so fucking catchy I cannot do anything but praise this album.

I have been listening to this album for a couple years now, so I know it like I know my family. I know what is going to happen and when it is going to happen. But with the first couple of listens, the stop-start riffing and the quick changes that are happening to the music may be unusual. That is one thing that managed to keep me listening the first time. With such an ability to make a song, make it catchy, heavy, and technical it makes these guys very good musicians. The solos both blend in and stand out, weird huh? Yes, they do come out of nowhere, go along with the music and are one of the shining points of the album. The vocals remind me of Frank Mullen, but this vocalist is a little more varied in his delivery.

I often find myself playing air guitar, air drums, and doing the vocals at just random times of the day. When an album has embedded itself into my mind like this, it is almost second nature. It is really hard to explain why I love this album so fucking much unless you listen to it, so do so now. I never thought I could give out a perfect score, but this album surely deserves whatever praise it gets.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com

Unbelievable - 100%

ast, April 28th, 2007

For a while now, it's been a growing idea that death metal is an artistically dead genre, with nothing but derivative bands rehashing what the forefathers set in place in the 90s. Everything with melody must be Gothenburg, and everything technical must be pretentious and emotionless has been a common thought in the metal community.

On Leading Vision, Gorod have single-handedly dispelled all of these ideas. Not only have Gorod created an album that is technically unparalleled, melodic while never approaching Gothenburg, but most of all, completely original, inspired, interesting and without ever sounding forced.

One of the most impressive aspects of Leading Vision, is how much of a positive jump it is from Neurotripsicks. Neurotripsicks was far from being a bad album (it was damn good actually), yet it's almost impossible to believe that Gorod made as big of a jump in terms of songwriting as they did in under a year. Neurotripsicks had some amazing leads and solos sprinkled throughout the album that showed Gorod's potential, but it was mostly held together by somewhat-awkward riffing. However, everything on Leading Vision is silky-smooth, very well thought out... and executed even better. Also worth note is how much better the vocals and lyrics are on Leading Vision than on Neurotripsicks (this was one of the biggest problems with Neurotripsicks, in my opinion.)

It's impossible to try and describe an album like Leading Vision without trying to draw parallels to other bands and albums. Gorod give bands like Spawn of Possession, Psycroptic, Gorguts and whoever else you can think of, a run for their money in terms of pure brutal technicality. At the same time however, they have a very distinct Atheist influence, and never let the technical aspects get in the way of writing damn good songs that flow well, riff by riff (and good lord, are there a lot of good riffs here.)

In my honest opinion, Leading Vision is the best from 2006 (tied with Blood in Our Wells by Drudkh), and is arguably the best technical death metal album ever released. A bold statement, but when you hear Leading Vision, you'll understand.

This album should be more popular - 90%

MikeyC, February 12th, 2007

It’s always amazing at how a band like Gorod can release an excellent album like “Leading Vision”, and have it barely noticed. Then there are bands like Trivium, continuously vomiting out more and more garbage that the mainstream gobble up with glee. It’s not to say that Trivium (or bands similar) aren’t talented musicians, but they appear to be making music to get well noticed/popular more so than for catchy music.

“Leading Vision” is one of those albums that should be better known.

For starters, the music itself is a little different from regular death metal releases. They experimented slightly with different sounds. Take the track “Thirst For Power” as an example. It starts off with standard death metal/thrash music, then once the vocals come in, the guitars goes off on a higher note, and suddenly the music has that unique edge to it. Then at :55, there’s an unusual groove pattern for a few seconds. Straight after, it goes back to a lower sound, back to the standard death metal sound. This basically summarizes the whole album. It’s definitely death metal, but it has the occasional riff or groove that will catch you unawares.

Something else that’s different here, and that more albums should implement, is that the lyrics have a back story. A concept album, if you like. The “story” can be found in the CD booklet. Not in the same form as Fear Factory’s “Obsolete”, but it’s a similar idea. This gives the album some form of continuity to it. The outro to the last track, “Hidden Genocide”, make the album, or story, feel complete. It’s almost like an “everthing’s going to be alright” feeling. Wonderful stuff.

All instruments are played well, but the production makes it feel raw, a little underdone, if that’s the correct wording. Not that this is a bad thing, by any means. Most of the riffs are very catchy. Some memorable sections are:

1. The instrumental section on “Here De Your Gods” from 1:58. It caught me by surprise and made the song infinitely better. The solo is a nice addition as well.

2. Right at the very end of “Life Controller”, where the riff breaks down, and then sounds like it’s coming from an old radio. It only lasts about 3 seconds, but excellent, excellent stuff! I know it’s not a riff as such, but it’s damn good, and is a good lead-in to “Edaenia 2312”

3. From 1:05 on “Obsequium Minaris”, where the riff flows directly into something else. The bass drum work is superb, and is the highlight of that section. Awesome.

Of course, this is just three instances. There are many more, including the whole of “Hidden Genocide”, which sounds like a jazz shuffle death metal track. The entire album is littered with gold.

One minor flaw, I guess, is the vocals. He tends to do the same thing, and a lot of the words are mumbled, or not spoken clear enough for the word to be understood, even while following the lyrics. But, I’m nitpicking, and I’ve grown used to them now, so it’s okay.

This is a release that death metal fans should have. It’s better than the average, and that’s probably why not many people know about it. The back story is worth the CD price alone!

Best tracks: Life Controller, Obsequium Minaris, Hidden Genocide

Progression for the Uninitiated - 96%

Deadwired, September 11th, 2006

"Neurotripsicks," Gorod's debut album, was by far one of the most interested Death Metal albums of the last six years. Recalling to mind awkward riffing and death riffing inspired by Gorguts, yet taking the complications of Cynic to the heart of their structuring, and it came off sounding completely fresh and inspired. Needless to say, it was a brilliant album from a soon-to-be-adored band. "Leading Vision," their follow up, doesn't diminish an ounce of their momentum, but sounds a lot more refined in certain areas than their debut.

For instance, "Neurotripsicks" was characterized by mostless awkward riffing that built the perfect palette for their epic, Jazz-inspired leads. In "Leading Vision," the groove are a lot more not necessarily standard, but nowhere near as off-kilter as the original. However, that's not to diminish any of the original flair that their debut had. On "Leading Vision," their brand of Death Metal seems to be more Cynic-inspired than anything, but still retaining a bit of that off-center, slightly improvisational feeling they had. There's melody, and a lot of it. Not in the Gothenburg tremolo sense, but moreover in the Jazzier side of things. The harmonization with guitars isn't retained solely to ameteurish theory, where you harmonize things a sixth above the rhythm to get a lusher sound. Instead, the two guitars use harmonization that's active for each guitarist. A perfect example is the third track, "Blackout." It's melodic, but in the aspect that one guitarist is on the second string. The other, is on the fifth. You get the picture. Things are not linear at all.

Another thing Gorod are starting to reveal is their brilliant riff ideas. Usually, Tech Metal bands rely solely on technicality and throw out any chance of sounding good. Such is not the case with Gorod. The opening track, "Here Die Your Gods" has a brilliant and instantaneously memorable riff that sounds harsh and biting, thanks to the incredibly clear production. The chorus is something that will stick with you as well, much like you never really forget how "Veil of Maya" sounded after you heard it the first time, though in those small little crooks, you can never fully remember how the harmonization goes.

All in all, "Leading Vision" is bound for much of the critical acclaim that "Neurotripsicks" had, and for good reason. It's a completely ample follow-up that indicative of how a band can progress and not dilute themselves at all. Definitely one of the best albums of '06. Any Cynic, Gorguts or Atheist fan needs this album in their discography.

The future of death metal? Hopefully.... - 90%

KayTeeBee, August 18th, 2006

Gorod is a band from from France which features most members of Gorgasm. They released their debut album last year, Neurotripsicks, and it didn't impress me that much - as opposed to what most people thought, I thought it was pretty redundant and boring death metal. This new album though, definitely puts Gorod at the top of my favourite death metal list, and it's definitely one of the best death metal albums released so far this year (without forgetting Spawn of Possession and a few others).

First things first, this isn't straightforward death metal. Like the aforementionned Spawn of Possession (whose latest album could be easily compared to this one), Gorod know how to make things interesting: Not too many blastbeasts, no rushed production, a lot of melody, but still keeping an undefiled sound. Some parts tend to fall more into technical grounds (such as Thirst for Power), but they never exaggerate like the successful tasmanian band Psycroptic. Anyway, whenever one of those pretentious technical part shows up, they don't last long and there's usual a kick-ass riff right after. What makes this album so cool is that through the full 42 minutes, Gorod somehow manages to pack in every cool riff and idea that's ever been tried in death metal - without being redundant for 1 second. When it comes to their melodic side, I'm pretty sure I haven't anything Gothenburg in this album - more something of neo-classical death metal or brutal melodic death bands. There's a lot of leads and solos for those who like their Death metal with tons of 'em (the middle of 'State of Secret' comes to mind - awesome solos, a little bit of shredding and sweeping), there's some stuff for those who like some dissonant passages, some brutal-ish parts, you name it. The vocals are nothing remarkable, as I seem to get the impression that most of this album is focused on musical value. I honestly wouldn't mind at all if this had been an instrumental album.

Gorod try every trick in the big book of death metal, and they've mastered their art so gracefully in under one year (Ok, their debut wasn't that bad). I definitely hope a lot of bands can learn from this: you don't have to try some extravagant stuff to be original and awesome. You just have to take all the elements you like from a certain genre of music and make what you can of it. Every member of Gorgasm is an excellent musician, creatively and by playing their instruments. The future of death metal looks promising, if more people can do music like this.