Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Gorguts: Pleiades’ Dust

Death Metal is often branded by many as unlistenable garbage, played too fast and brutal to make any sense. But despite these negative connotations, this metal sub genre has always managed to unearth visionaries who break new ground, smash the aforementioned pre-conceptions and challenge the status quo. It is these figures who lead the way into uncharted, more complex musical territory leaving their peers gazing in awe, desperate to outdo them.

Luc Lemay, the grey haired master behind Canada’s Gorguts is all these things and more. Already a fan of Iron Maiden, Celtic Frost and Possessed, he purchased a cassette copy of Death's 1987 album ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ and formed the group in his hometown of Quebec 1988.

After 5 Albums (2 of which were on Roadrunner) several hiatus periods and 2 band members passing away, Lemay recruited a fresh lineup of talented musicians and rejoined the DM fray back in 2013 with the well received Colored Sands. 

Choosing to release a one song EP this time around certainly is both a genius and ballsy move. On the one hand, it eliminates any ‘filler tracks’ allowing the band to focus on the whole piece. The flip side to this is it presents the challenge of having to include enough material to keep those along for the ride entertained. Thankfully, Pleiades’ Dust has no such hindrance and is the perfect blend of dark atmospherics with ferocious technicality resulting in a very cinematic listening trip.

As for the lyrical themes, they document the story of ‘The House of Wisdom’. A library in Baghdad built sometime around the 8th century, which at one point held the largest collection of books in the world. Many important advances occurred there in the fields of algebra, astronomy, geography and physics while Europe was still in the dark ages after the fall of the Roman Empire. The house was destroyed in 1258 AD during the siege of Baghdad by the Mongels, however many of the house’s manuscripts were saved and later translated.  

At it’s most out of control tornado like moments, the phantom hulk figure of Gorguts’ 1998 album Obscura comes smashing through the window accompanied by it’s mischievous sidekick, 2001’s From Wisdom to Hate and I just know somewhere ‘Big’ Steeve Hurdle and Steve MacDonald are smiling. However the eye of the storm is just as unsettling a place, where Lemay's classical influences can be heard (such as Poland's Penderecki and Russian composers Prokofiev and Shostakovich) which definitely help the quartet conjure up lightless arctic conditions.

Each of the members rarely mirror what the other is playing, and instead they tend to recite their own lines of the story through their respective instruments, interweaving between one another while all remaining on the same sonic mission. The EP marks Patrice Hamelin 'Guts drumming debut who is on fire. He strives to serve the material and compliment the work of his 3 bandmates rather than choosing repetitive blast beats.

Colin Marston’s efforts also command respect. His frenetic bass-work adds thunderous depth to the already colossal riffs, and on the occasion it sharply cuts through the mix, he stings away like a bee in the throes of death. 

Meanwhile Lemay and Huffnagel’s warped guitars are constantly in a state of discordant harmony furiously swirled through an avant-garde filter. Then seemingly plucked from the coldest reaches of this earth to achieve the icy clean sections. 

In the mystical twists and turns of it’s half hour life cycle, Pleiades’ Dust is built up, torn down and then rebuilt with terrifying consistency. Even if Death Metal is nothing but a curiosity for anyone reading this, all the correct ‘accessible’ precautions have been taken here and they don’t backfire. The record is not an overwhelm of heaviness and technicality, nor do the various distortion-less passages that inhabit it feel overdone. 

One such section features ghostly amplifier buzzing mixed with guitar harmonics that float by eerily. Leading into a gargantuan monster of a riff that I can only describe as if Converge stopped playing Metallic Hardcore and started playing Black Metal.

What I like most about the EP is that it doesn't feel formulated and had me constantly guessing where the band where headed next. The band are certainly challenging themselves with the new material and exercise that in the perfect amount of time and with plenty of audio treasure to uncover I can't really fault it.  

Despite the Gorguts name being nearly 30 years old, the music still has a modern bite thanks to to the added input of the young blood and Lemay’s uncompromising artistic vision. The piece also makes a fine combatant against the army of Djent and Tech-Death clones and would easily come out swinging. 

If you’re someone who enjoys fully immersing themselves in a band’s release, reaping the rewards with every listen plus some growled vocals and a nice helping of dissonance aren’t a deal breaker, then Pleiades' Dust deserves nothing short of your full attention. 



Gorguts Official Site

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