I admit: I’ve never even heard Gorguts’ sounds until this album. I know nothing of their start and their famed Obscura album that apparently catapulted them into the minds of the metal community. I know now that their primary driving force is Luc Lemay, who’s French, and that this a concept album regarding Tibet, and that they are considered pioneers in the Technical Death Metal genre. I found this band on a lark from following Disrhythmia and Krallice and Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston. So, I decided I would give it a spin.
The first minutes of “Le Toit du Monde” brought me spiraling into a particular brand of discord set to the dancing rhythm of a waltz accented with harmonics to which I had never been party. Its tone ominous, monolithic, and cold, the song wraps you round its familiar rhythmic pattern as periods of brutality leap out, burning the soundscape into your head. The ebb and flow found on this song between soft and harsh accented with harmonics is indicative of the sound to continue; however, make no mistake, this is very much a Technical Death approach to the music and concept.
“An Ocean of Wisdom” is arguably the heaviest song off the album, rolling in smashing waves of the most extreme nuances of the sound. Yet, like the rest of the album, nothing ever truly feels that heavy. If anything, the discordant heaviness evokes a sense of muted trepidation like the coming of a heavy storm in the distance; the harmonics humming off mountain valley walls. What is most remarkable is that ultimately the exchange between the dualities made for the impression that I was never quite listening to a metal album, though assuredly I knew I was. Combining with “Forgotten Arrows” and “Colored Sands,” this section is the heaviest on the album, constantly breaking clouds in its swirl of dissonance.
“The Battle of Chamdo” breaks the album’s concept in half, transitioning from the death of the Dali Lama and the search for his successor to the injustices levied upon Tibet. If the album ever reaches a lamentation, it is here in the desperate strings that crescendo into the album’s second half with “Enemies of Compassion” that rips straight out similarly to “Le Toit du Monde” but never pulls back or down into the tense quiet.
Outrage becomes the music’s theme, but is used in focus maturely to never lose sight of the sounds or scope of the album. This section is a subtle balance between extremity, aggression, and making a point. “Ember’s Voice” details the use of self-immolation as a practice of protest by Buddhist monks, while “Absconders” highlights the feeling of alterity that Tibet receives from the West and from Tibetans. If there is a mission call, both in tone and lyric, “Reduced to Silence” hits it. Evoking the heaviness of earlier, but with the pensive restraint and dancing melody a pinning undercurrent, the song roars to the album’s conclusion abruptly.
You will want to either purchase the hard copy of the album with its associated lyric booklet or research the lyrics here. Lemay admitted that he spent between a year and a year and a half researching Tibet for this album. The lyrics and their associated quotes really, really bridges the gap between the music and the point. I am not one for much Technical Death Metal. I listen to it here and there, but it’s not my cup of tea. However, this album, in its nearly clinical precision and its well reflected conceptual approach, is definitely worth the purchase. In so many more ways, Gorguts demonstrates what it means to use music, specifically metal, as art and a mission statement.