Gorguts – Colored Sands | Review

You’ll have to forgive me if I’m not fully learned on my Gorguts history. Technical death metal has never been my preferred flavor. So, for my fellow initiates: Gorguts was founded by guitarist/vocalist Luc Lemay in 1989 and went on to become one of the most influential bands in the genre. After a nearly 12 year wait Gorguts returns with 'Colored Sands'. For this effort, Lemay is joined by Colin Marston (bass), Marston’s Dysrhythmia cohort Kevin Hufnagel (guitar) and Origin drummer John Longstreth.

The depth of 'Colored Sands' is done no justice by a cursory listen. Multiple listens are required to fully comprehend its complexity. Gorguts takes the idea of avant-garde to the extreme, pushing the limits of their instruments and the foundations of death metal itself. Conventional time signatures are meaningless as Lemay and crew take atonality, dissonance and tempo shifts to ridiculous levels. When all the members are locked onto the same target, the results are devastatingly heavy. But they never stay long as they quickly fly apart on their own individual trajectories to reveal openness. Again, with neck-breaking swiftness, the pieces are gathered back together to slam the listener into the earth.

That kind of dynamic can be quite abrasive but Gorguts infuse enough melody to soften the edges. Track names actually give a decent impression of the sensations the music presents. “An Ocean of Wisdom” bears both the beauty of a gentle ocean wave and the chaotic violence of the most terrible squall. “Colored Sands” itself is full of texture and shade, panoramic vistas as well as searing harshness.

The chaotic structure Gorguts presents can be a struggle for many to assimilate, but the album’s fulcrum, “The Battle of Chamdo” can help. Strings score what could be a dramatic film or play. As the music takes on different moods and paces, one can envision the scenes playing out. The same goes for Gorguts in general but as death metal with Lemay’s forceful roar narrating rather than classical music.

Still, music that keeps a listener this off balance is not for everyone. The progressive minded and technically inclined will revel in its depth and vision, while those with more of a penchant for predictability may have a difficult time fully accepting 'Colored Sands'. It all comes down to which side of that fence you’re on. But for what they do, Gorguts do it better than the legions of bands they’ve inspired.

Matt Hinch

Band info: www.facebook.com/GorgutsOfficial
Label info: www.season-of-mist.com

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Ghost Cult Magazine, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @MetalMatt_KofN.