Gorguts - Colored Sands (2013)
Season of Mist
Review by Trevor Proctor
Returning to the studio after a long hiatus can produce mixed results, even for some of the best bands of our time. Stray too far from the well beaten track and you could produce a work that divides and disappoints (Morbid Angel) but stick too much to the formulae of previous output and you could be seen as stagnating and lacking any significant musical progression (Pestilence).
It’s due to this that I usually approach any “comeback” album with a mixture of excitement & trepidation, a bit like watching a classic movie from your childhood – will it still be as good today as it was years ago when you first watched it or will it disappoint you to the extent that you wish you’d kept its legacy intact by not revisiting?
Canada’s Gorguts return to the fray with “Colored Sands,” their first studio output since 2001 album “From Wisdom to Hate” – sadly the band’s last studio output, until now, due to the suicide of drummer Steve McDonald in 2002, which in turn led to the band’s breaking up in 2005. Despite performing live and writing new material since 2008 it would be late 2013 before the band would officially release a new studio album.
Colored Sands was released in September via Season of Mist and themes concentrate on Tibetan mythology and history. Opening track “Le Toit Du Monde” sees Gorguts setting out their stall in the most convincing of manners. It’s a sprawling, epic track that displays technical prowess, atmospheric breaks, pained vocals from Lemay and, most importantly, snippets of the sheer brilliance that is to come.
A few tracks later the epic title track starts with clean, gentle guitar work that gives no indication of the brutality to come. Colored Sands’ intro drags you towards the track’s brooding, grindingly slow yet crushingly heavy midsection that’s punctuated by Lemay’s guttural, harsh growling. Well over 7 minutes long this is a beast of a track that never seems stretched or strained and grooves, yes grooves in the hardest of fashions.
The Battle of Chamdo is an interesting track, written by frontman Lemay on piano and recorded with a string quartet. Spanning almost five minutes it’s a hauntingly deep yet beautiful midpoint for the album, a track that shows Lemay’s musical knowledge & ability at their most creative.
Depth & beauty aren’t words normally associated with death metal yet this album has shed loads of both interspersed between slabs of crushing heaviness & technical inventiveness. Clocking in at well over an hour this is an astounding album that takes several listens to fully appreciate. Lemay wanted diversity and progression – well Colored Sands achieves this and so much more. To stand out from today’s pack you have to take risks and not be afraid to explore different musical landscapes – it’s the diversity of much of the music here that sets this fantastic album aside from many of its rivals. Gorguts don’t merely return to previous glories, they take a proven formula from the past and improve it – they don’t need to live on a past legacy, the “new Gorguts” has so much more to give listeners.
This isn’t an album I fully appreciated until I had listened to it many times, yes I enjoyed it from the off, but it’s an album so subtly complex and intricate that it takes several listens to realise the extent of its magnificence.
Colored Sands is available now via Season of Mist.