Death Metal Underground

Gorguts – Colored Sands

by Cory Van der Pol
September 3, 2013 –

gorguts-colored_sandsTwo of the worst fates in the world: to not know why people like what you do, and to get thrown into the big bin marked “not bad” that contains 99% of human endeavors which are quickly forgotten.

Colored Sands, which sees release today, attempts to recapture the magic of Obscura and From Wisdom to Hate. On the surface, one would see these as a collection of techniques: off-time riffs, odd chord voicings, “deep” lyrics and an affinity for classical music.

Unfortunately, that’s all Gorguts took from their back catalog.

As said above, this reviews damns this CD with the faint praise of “not bad.” It’s much better than the rest of the tek-deth genre, but that’s sort of like saying that chainsaw dismemberment is better than Evola. The real problem with Colored Sands is that it’s transparent.

You can imagine a group of guys sitting in a room thinking, “How do we make a death metal album edgy?” For starters, they throw in the list of techniques I mentioned. But then they use very similar rhythms, song structures, riff types and even sequence of chord voicings.

We could call this “the Opeth effect”: for an instant audience, make music that sounds difficult but in fact is moron-simple and predictable, because it allows people to pose at being elite. It’s in full effect here, as bad as on the second Cynic album. It’s progressive music for pop fans.

Most of us had higher expectations because Gorguts traditionally held themselves to a higher standard. But what’s here is 50% traditional death metal and 50% tech-deth dressed up as prog, and it’s boring. The best part is the brief classical piece in the style of the Russians, which is both populist and not all that exciting in the convention of that style.

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24 comments

  • Concerned Citizen

    A lot of it sounded annoyingly drawn out. Then I saw pictures of Luc Lemay wearing Tool and Deathspell Omega shirts and claiming he was inspired by Opeth and Porcupine Tree into moving the Gorguts sound into more “ambient” territory. Just a more aesthetically unorthodox version of the “crazy metal” morons listen to before they “chill out” to Katatonia albums.

  • fenrir

    I agree wholeheartedly. That being said, I do like the album. Past the disappointment of it not being on par with Lemay’s previous works, I can still enjoy musical ideas, empty as they are, because of the cohesiveness. What I most disliked about the album is how sparse it feels. An attempt at giving the music “more space”. I thought that From Wisdom to Hate already achieved that without losing anything.

  • stormwinds

    Gorguts in the past released 4 albums which all covered different territories. There must be a reason why they went on a 12 year old break. It’s because they had nowhere else to go. So what exactly is the point of this album, other than capitalizing on old glory?

    1. fenrir

      They went on a 12 year break because their drummer died, my friend. They’re not Avenged Sevenfold or Dream Theater, you know?

        1. fenrir

          yeah, 2005 – 2013 is not 12 years.
          In fact, it should be 2005-2009, when the writing process began anew. So it was only 4 years for Lemay.

          1. stormwinds

            It’s still 12 years without recording anything, but enough with the numbers, do you really think that this new album covers new territory for Gorguts? Does it have its own voice? That was the point of my question.

            1. fenrir

              The numbers are important because they can mean something drastic. There were 6 years between EoS and Obscura. But recording is not all their is to the artistic process. Bands may put out albums every year or every other year, they end up releasing a lot of crap. 12 years would sound like “oh my god, they had no ideas, nothing to write”. But it was only 12 years without an official release only. That’s something very different.

              As to your other question, no, I do not think they cover new territory. For me it feels like a very sparse (empty) evolution of FWtH. I do like some moments, but overall, I was really disappointed. VERY disappointed. I do not feel angry about it, just deeply sad about it. :/

              1. stormwinds

                Well, that’s exactly how I feel about this album, at least we can agree on the more important things.

                After all they probably weren’t that inspired to begin with, although some classical pieces from Lemay’s myspace page that I’ve heard in the past didn’t sound half bad.

            2. fenrir

              I also think Lemay’s new-found “inspirations” are to blame. Minimalistic idiocy of Phillip Glass, Opeth and Steven Wilson (fuck…), and Deathspell Omega (seriously, these clowns making hipster music).

              1. stormwinds

                It just baffles me how a man that composed “Obscura”, finds interest in Opeth or Wilson’s music (which I can even tolerate).

    2. fenrir

      Also, it was not a 12-year break. It has been 12 years since they released their last album before this. Their drummer from FWtH committed suicide on 2002 and they officially disbanded on 2005. Luc Lemay started writing for Colored Sands on 2009, I think, after being pushed to start something on 2007 by Steve Hurdle (the other guitar player in Obscura).

  • fenrir

    I do have to ask though, how many times did you listen to this?
    Because you describe my exact thoughts on the first 5 listens. After some 10 listens I gave it a rest for two weeks and came back to it when your mind has had time to process and the next couple of listens yielded a more detailed impression of the music which was more satisfying. Still, I do find the music somewhat empty.

  • Bad News

    Gorguts put aside high aspirations for achieving profundity and chose the path of flesh. With flesh comes the most mundane of ways. Power in flesh, from Gorguts “reclaiming” their place as leaders in the dissonant technical death metal genre, gaining false acclaim, boosting the ego (Ego, destroys spirit – Metal, travels from beyond the mind). Greed, from Gorguts not leaving good enough alone and making a lowly mass appealing product for the sake of “fun” playing at festivals as withered old men and hiding behind the logic of “hey, those chords are interesting”, for the sake of money (further boosting the Ego, leaving behind the ways of infinite for the finite path of fleshly arrogance). Previous Gorguts works were full of vital energy, a tribute to the ways of Earth. New Gorguts is a “groupthink” project, a tribute to the wasteland of misanthropy and lust that is the internet. The culmination of mankind’s “no big deals” (mundane doings – without spirit, only the flesh drives) will lead to the complete destruction of all that our senses are aware of (this includes the steady flow of disappointing new albums from classic bands).

  • HEburnLL

    I think what hurts this album the most, is Gorguts’s past successes, more than the album itself. No album exists in a vacuum though. Had any other band put out this album, it wouldn’t only not receive the attention that it is getting, but it wouldn’t receive the criticism either. While we’re supposed to accept nothing less than “A” quality music, I think there is enough to like here eventhough IMO the second half of the album feels like filler material. I’m sure I’ll probably give it a few more listens on my way home from work over the next few weeks, and move on, but I think there is enough quality material here to warrant a little more praise than this review leaves room for.

  • Wait

    Evola = traditionalist philosopher
    Ebola = horrible viral disease

    Know the difference, it could save your life

    1. Dinaric Leather

      Haha at first I thought he literally meant being dismembered by a chainsaw was better than Julius Evola. Or maybe a band called Chainsaw Dismemberment is better than a band that for some bizarre reason named themselves Evola.

  • fenrir

    “Unfortunately, that’s all Gorguts took from their back catalog.”

    You are wrong.
    Unfortunately, the problem is that Luc & Co. are trying too hard to take from Gorguts’ back catalog. This album stenches of Obscura worship with some FWtH linearity. Unlike each of the other Gorguts’ albums, this album does not feel like an effort to move forward, but like a nostalgic review recombining their last two efforts.
    I don’t think the writing here is worse than on Obscura, which I consider to be their worst album in terms of structure and development. People adore Obscura for its shock value and attribute many things to it that it does not possess. It has several interesting moments but it is mostly disparate and directionless songwriting. I know the intention is to be less linear and the same can be said of this new album.
    I think Colored Sands fails in having a distinctive style, lacking a progressive outlook. In terms of songwriting, though, I prefer the first 5 tracks of the album (which I believe to be stellar) to anything on Obscura. The last 4 tracks of Colored Sands are incomplete songs, or filler; the last one having identity issues.

    1. fenrir

      Correcting one little detail, I consider tracks 2-5 on Colored Sands to be stellar on a Death Metal album.
      You can criticize the classical composition as “populist”, but it beats anything of the sort done in ANY Death Metal album to date.

        1. fenrir

          Let’s talk specifics, then. Do enlighten me. I thought “An Ocean of Wisdom” and “Colored Sands” to be pretty solid, and definitely the best on the album. The first single, “Forgotten Arrows” lacks a good development, in my opinion, but is not a terrible track.