35 thoughts on “The postmodern Gorguts”

  1. trystero says:

    This sounds like Mr. Rosales wrote it, who is Mr. Pilgrim?

    1. No. We have a similar semi-formal style that combines a little of mystical-sounding descriptions at times. That’s all.

  2. Chris says:

    I’m confused, because Obscura has been praised in other articles on this site and in the Dark Legions Archive.

    1. Don’t be confused. Think for yourself.
      I personally believe this article is 90% wrong on a technical (objective) level.
      Good intentions, incorrect terminology and confusion of elements of music.

      1. Chris says:

        Thank you for the response. Even after listening to metal for 20+ years I still question whether I really know anything about it or not.

    2. We encourage our writers to have their own opinions and then, in the part of the process that everyone forgets, to hash out the truth via reasoned debate — not surrogates/proxies like voting, deference to published sources or commonly accepted ideas — and arrive at an answer.

      We do not want to be robots/zombies like ideological sites.

      1. Chris says:

        I guess I have become too accustomed to websites expressing a point of view and then protecting the point of view without variation.

  3. BB says:

    The fact that there is no essence is an idea as well, and might be one of the things expressed in Obscura.

    The article is interesting, but falls short because it falls in the trap of reductionism: it reduces both postmodernism and metal. Reality is more complex than the outlines above, as Obscura, obviously being metal – these 7 bulletpoints notwithstanding – proves.

    1. Agreed about “reality being more complex” than this reductionism implies. And the 7 bulletpoints are mostly wrong.

    2. William Pilgrim says:

      “The fact that there is no essence is an idea as well, and might be one of the things expressed in Obscura.”

      I disagree. Maybe our definitions of essence and idea vary from philosophical ones, but “no essence as an idea” seems to be a redundant inversion. Essence, to me, feels like the subset of an idea and needs to be the centre around which an idea is molded.

      To the other part of your post: I do reduce metal to a core set of attributes, but these are also fairly reliable as launching pad if we are to devise any kind of objective measurement of what constitutes metal. I’ll be the first to own up to more esoteric, ineffable standards; there are certain things we feel that can’t be expressed in words and that is fine. But does that come with the caveat of dismissing everything that goes into what makes metal a sound?

      1. Maybe our definitions of essence and idea vary from philosophical ones, but “no essence as an idea” seems to be a redundant inversion.

        “My artistic theme is chaos and incompetence!”

        At the same time, it makes sense to attack this not on the level of validity but effect which is ultimately where all art is measured.

        I do reduce metal to a core set of attributes, but these are also fairly reliable as launching pad if we are to devise any kind of objective measurement of what constitutes metal.

        If you will, let me advance a controversial notion: heavy metal may be an idea and not a technique or series of techniques. Those may serve to express the idea to us now, but might be less relevant in times of greater sanity, at which point metal may sound more like the Unfinished Symphony than Black Sabbath and Deicide.

  4. Murph says:

    I’m interested to hear what Ara and Rosales have to say about this article.

    Anyone else think William Pilgrim = ObscuraHessian or one of the other “old” deathmetal.org guys?

    1. Murph says:

      On second thought, it’s probably Devamitra and not ObscuraHessian :P

    2. It’s mostly wrong at a technical level.
      I do not mean as an opinion.
      Sincere appreciation and observation, but incorrect on more than 90% of what he says.

    3. So, I’m just gonna repost something I mentioned earlier elsewhere:

      What the post-metal movement is doing is not the same, musically.
      Post Metal actually disregards all this and goes further than Clouded. Where Clouded repeats too much, it has a phrase-lead riff that does have a forward-moving harmony implied. Post Metal insists on getting stuck in an actual suspended “cloud” in one chord and repeating it with different details and textures while the drums groove or slam or batter or become really quiet…

      Obscura is actually a much more “conservative” album at its core than the wild expressions at its surface seem to admit.

      Out of this article’s “metal rules”:
      > “Melodic contiguity : recognizably melodic in nature. This means that the individual phrases that make up a metal song obey cohesiveness, as tenuous as it may seem at times. ”

      Actually this is present in Obscura’s songs. The songs obey cohesiveness, but it is very tenuous.

      > “Movement towards a discernible and logical conclusion”

      Obscura also has this, in fact, its recycling use of riffs bring the song either in a circle back to its beginning or just develops it in exactly the same way as in The Erosion of Sanity.
      In fact, the structures in Obscura are simplified to make its goal more clear in view of the twisted expression and blurry “melodic contiguity”

      >”Rhythm section to assume a strong yet only supporting role”

      Several of the albums that come out as prominent examples of artistic excellence have toyed with this idea. It is true that Obscura try in a more overt manner to emphasize certain rhythmics aspects by harmonic/melodic contrast, but that’s a point of detail, it does not make Obscura’s drum more of a leader. Then we can say the same about Suffocation or Immolation.
      A better example of drums that are on an almost equal but subtle importance as guitars is At the Gates’ debut. Actually I am trying to get a drummer to write an article on this.

      >”Atmosphere created not through textural embellishments and quirks but as a by product of composition”

      This one is just wrong from its first statement. “Textural embellishments and quirts” can be a byproduct of composition. The way you decide how INTEGRATED they are is a different discussion having to do with consistency and coherence (he can look up how Schoenberg talks about this in his Fundamentals…)

      >”A keen comprehension of repetition as device”
      Obscura only transgresses this in the questionable track “Clouded”.

      Obscura is a very difficult album to get through, and so people, even experienced listeners may get confused in listening to it. It may really be confused with “chaos” and all that. The Chaoticness of Obscura is only within riff expression, but the structures and goals of the songs are pretty conservative. Even more so than on The Erosion of Sanity.

      1. Post Metal insists on getting stuck in an actual suspended “cloud” in one chord and repeating it with different details and textures while the drums groove or slam or batter or become really quiet…

        Which sounds like… well, rock music. Strum a chord, everything else is fills, and use a blues-based or similar basic chord progression as a background for the vocals. Post-metal is rock with metal aesthetics, just like hard rock and nu-metal.

    4. There are similarities in outlook, but we cannot divulge the identity of our authors. However, sometimes there are hints on Facebook:

      https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=662074923927768&id=270205086448089

  5. Phil says:

    Obscura is not an easy-listening album. I believe it wasn’t intended to be. Even for the seasoned metalhead, it should defy instinctual modes of appreciation. Should you really judge it on the same benchmarks used for other works? Or should you judge it on what you have understood and felt from it?

    1. William Pilgrim says:

      That’s the catch, isn’t it? If we insist on metal’s conservatism as being crucial to its existence as a musical art form, then Obscura boldly, or egregiously as my opinion seems to be, goes where no metal has been before. I really don’t mind the surface dissonance heard on this album but am more concerned with how it is organized.

      What would you say you have understood and felt through it? No snark.

      1. I agree with this much, at least.
        The album is “too meta”. But I think it’s incursion into post-modernist (NOT POST-METAL, which is saying something altogether different) choice for melody and harmony choices is the limit of its unconventionality.
        The individual parts are built much like TEOS, basing its transitions on rhythmic patterns. And the motifs are there,but most strongly in motif-forms. This means two things: yes, we are looking more at rhythm (does not mean “drums are more important”) as a unifying agent, and second, we take the rhythm of a first section as a motif, then apply transformations (transpositions, inversions, etc) to it for the next sections in ways that applied to rhythm rather than melody.
        This is where the band “stretched” it.
        They didn’t so much ditch the old paradigm as break it apart and replace parts to introduce confusion. In this case, melody was destroyed, harmony became distorted (but not disregarded) the rhythm became the basis.

        Rather than comparing this with post-metal, I would say its transgressions stink of metalcore carnival-ness. But it remains metal as a whole, not post-metal or metalcore.

        1. William Pilgrim says:

          Also, I was not drawing comparison with post-metal in the manner it has come to be known through the bands you mention. The use of “post” had everything to do with post-structuralist/post-modern thought, and not a certain flowery sound. I think Brett’s article will expand on that notion further.

          1. I wasn’t referring to a flowery sound either.
            I was referring to the way post-metal bands actually build music, Brett explained why they are more similar to rock music, and why we both agree that Obscura is definitely a metal album despite its stretching and blurring the expression “on top”.

            You should understand Obscura as the experimental bridge between TEOS and FWtH, because that’s all it is. People think that Obscura is so unconventional and innovative and while this is true it is not as far-reaching as people think. Hence Brett’s comment some time ago on the limited and dead-end nature of their approach.

            Underlying Obscura is a very conservative construction, even more conservative than TEOS, like I said, to balance the whacky approach to melody/harmony, which they used as a disorienting manner. If the base under those weird sounds weren’t as conservative, we would have ditched Obscura as nonsense on the level of Deathspell Omega.

            1. Underlying Obscura is a very conservative construction, even more conservative than TEOS, like I said, to balance the whacky approach to melody/harmony, which they used as a disorienting manner.

              Interesting formulation. If it did not have that reality-referential construction, it might indeed be the post-organizational aesthetics-only material that Mr. Pilgrim describes. This seems to me to be the crux of your disagreement: you see order in it, and he sees it imposing order on itself to conceal its grab-bag composition.

          2. I think you are confused over this:

            ” But I think it’s incursion into post-modernist (NOT POST-METAL, which is saying something altogether different) choice for melody and harmony choices is the limit of its unconventionality.”

            I am actually referring to the same post-modern thought you are talking about. I was on the same page as you and Brett as to WHAT post-modernism is. I understood that point the first time I read your article and the first time I read Brett’s article. I do not think that there is anything flowery in Gorguts approach nor do I think it resembles post-rock in character but in “thinking”, but only at a surface level. I do not think it is as far-reaching as your reduction makes it seem.

            1. I do not think that there is anything flowery in Gorguts approach nor do I think it resembles post-rock in character but in “thinking”, but only at a surface level.

              Compare both to jazz: an absence of specific intent in composition, replaced by “the tune” (melody) turned into a blank slate for improvisation. With jazz, results vary widely between recordings.

        2. But I think it’s incursion into post-modernist (NOT POST-METAL, which is saying something altogether different) choice for melody and harmony choices is the limit of its unconventionality.

          This is a more important distinction than it seems. Post-metal is rock with metal riffs; the lack of center is typical of rock music. Instead of being post-modern in the theoretical sense, or distrusting narratives, it replaces its own narrative with an ethic of convenience and disguises that with “carnival music” or as much perceived randomness as possible.

      2. I really don’t mind the surface dissonance heard on this album but am more concerned with how it is organized.

        This, dear readers, is clear from his article.

        He points to certain techniques as an example of the technique leading the composition, where the composer creates to use the technique, instead of using the technique to represent something in the composition. The former is closer to Animals as Leaders, Meshuggah and Cynic; the latter, closer to original underground metal.

        No snark.

        Probably a good standard in general.

  6. no troll says:

    This article has me convinced. Not that it needed too much effort tbh. ;)
    Give me Malediction (UK) over this any day of the week!

  7. Daniel says:

    All I will say is I’ve never made it through this album in one sitting.

  8. David Rumbero says:

    We need more Malevolent Creation reviews, a band that is way superior to anything Gorguts ever did!

    1. I still don’t get this trollish infatuation with Malevolent Creation XD

    2. I like their first album the best; it had a clarity of intent. Later material creates an oil on water separation between speed metal and death metal elements.

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