In this little world of album reviewing, we get hundreds of CDs each year from bands & labels from all over the globe hoping to get some positive coverage (or any coverage) of their latest releases. The problem is, in this digital age we now live in, anybody can put together a batch of songs and release it, good, bad, or ugly. The end result is an exorbitant amount of bands flooding the scene, and many are just not very good, or not quite good YET, but regardless, the music is out there. When it comes to death metal, I can't begin to tell you just how many young, inexperienced but hungry acts come across our desk wanting their new album reviewed, and in the end it's so hard to distinguish one from the next. That is why it is so refreshing when those upper echelon acts of the genre put out something new, regardless of how long it's been since the last time we've seen them, as you just know in most cases the results are going to be staggering and leagues removed from the generic stuff we hear on a regular basis. Such is the case with the latest from Canadian technical death metal legends Gorguts, who, like another act who have crept out from under dormant shadows recently, Carcass, have released a brand new CD that is just a perfect example of what is so majestic & powerful about death metal when it's done right.
Though Colored Sands is the first new album from Gorguts since 2001, Luc Lemay and company have not lost a step here. Though not the out and out pummeling straight ahead death metal of their early releases, nor the blistering complexity of their classic Obscura, Colored Sands fuses the two styles and adds an epic nature as well as plenty of brooding atmosphere, making for a fresh Gorguts sound that is totally satisfying. Joining guitarist/vocalist Lemay on this outing is Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia on guitar, Colin Marston of Krallice & Behold the Arctopus on bass, and drummers John Longstreth of Origin and Dim Mak. So, it's pretty much an all-star cast and the results are stellar. Lots of dissonance and menace, which is a Gorguts trademark, and while some of the tunes retain that dazzling complexity, like on "Le toit du monde", "Forgotten Arrows", and "An Ocean of Wisdom", there's a sense of sophistication here on others that is simply staggering. The title track just drips with ominous tones, as some slight Middle Eastern themes collide with crushing death metal, and "The Battle of Chamdo" is a well put together orchestral piece that kind of breaks the album in half. This gives way to the blistering, savage "Enemies of Compassion", complete with rampaging blast beats, churning guitar riffs, and Lemay's venomous growls. All the trademark Gorguts characteristics show up on the dark "Ember's Voice", including massive riffs, blazing lead solos, scrapes, and fills, with Lemay growling deep, almost like Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt, while the near 10-minute long "Absconders" produces all those newly found bits of texture, color, and atmosphere that the band have discovered, but fret not, it's heavy as hell. They even throw in some cold, black metal styled dissonance on the vengeful closer "Reduced to Silence", as excellent guitar layers and blast beats stab through the eerie atmosphere, Lemay's tortured growls & croaks adding to the overall menace.
Colored Sands is a dark, dense, dissonant affair that's probably going to take a few listens to really sink in, but believe me, it's worth the time invested. Not content to just wow their fans with blazing complexity any more, the band have softened that stance somewhat but added many new layers to their already chaotic attack, and have really delivered a winner here. Welcome back guys!
1. "Le toit du monde" 6:33
2. "An Ocean of Wisdom" 7:21
3. "Forgotten Arrows" 5:41
4. "Colored Sands" 7:55
5. "The Battle of Chamdo" 4:43
6. "Enemies of Compassion" 7:03
7. "Ember's Voice" 6:48
8. "Absconders" 9:09
9. "Reduced to Silence" 7:38