Gorguts - Pleiades' Dust CoverWith two and a half decades under their belt and a generation of bands aping their sound, one wouldn’t be surprised to see Gorguts rest on their laurels for a while. But Gorguts‘ time of rest is over, and Luc Lemay has made it abundantly clear that his pioneering death metal vision didn’t stop with From Wisdom to Hate. The resurrected Gorguts lineup – an all-star cast including master producer Colin Marston (KralliceDysrhythmia) on bass and Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia, Sabbath Assembly1) on guitar – delivered one of 2013’s finest records in Colored Sands, and their newest work is more ambitious still.

Pleiades’ Dust consists of a single, 33-minute song, composed by Luc Lemay and set to a lyrical concept chronicling the rise and fall of one of the greatest libraries mankind has ever known – the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. Any other death metal band tackling this sort of historical content would be an almost guaranteed farce, but Lemay proved with Colored Sands that he can handle complex historical and social content with an intelligence that an outsider certainly wouldn’t expect from a band called Gorguts. That being said, cleverness can only get you so far, and whether it’s about fractious nationalism or sodomizing corpses, I expect death metal to deliver the musical goods.

It’s difficult to describe this EP and all of its pensive hazes and riotous climaxes, but perhaps the best way to attack it is to ask whether one song can really do the job of half a dozen or more – and whether it’s of high enough quality to justify its length. In the former sphere, Pleiades’ Dust can indeed live up to expectations, as it’s diverse enough to keep your attention for the entirety of its half-hour run. In the beginning, tremulous sound effects zip back and forth, and when the guitars hit, the Gorguts sound is everywhere. From the characteristically rumbling, metallic bass tone to Lemay’s growls and howls, the trademark sound is all there, and it does wonders in keeping the EP interesting by affording the band a colorful palette from which to paint.

And paint they do, often with the pointillist, reverb-laden clean tones you might remember from the end of “Le Toit Du Monde” or the Rothko-like drones of blue feedback on a blue background. The work is, as you would expect, sprawling and expansive, and therein lies its appeal. Pleiades’ Dust is excellently paced, and never does it feel that the music is drawn out just for the sake of length. At the same time, motifs, both lyrical and melodic, recur with enough regularity to unify the song and justify its single-piece construction. You’ll hear Lemay Roar “scornful dogma” more then once, and short melodic figures that develop within the song’s first half are recapitulated even at the very end of the EP.

Gorguts Band 2016

Pleiades’ Dust is very much greater than the sum of its parts, but therein lies its great flaw. It pleases as a whole but not so much from moment-to-moment. The performances are all there, especially Marston’s basswork, but not one part of this EP is a standout, heart-stopping, head-turning event. The melodies and riffs aren’t poorly constructed, but they pale in comparison to what Colored Sands had to offer in terms of memorability, and while I like every part of the song, it does at times feel very safely played.

In my anticipation of this album, I truly believed that it would be a schismatic and bizarre masterpiece on the same level as Meshuggah‘s I EP. But was groundbreaking because of its content, because of its techniques, and because of its extremity – not because of its length. Pleiades’ Dust is without doubt more thoughtfully composed and thematically unified than I, but there’s no danger in its music – at least, not for those familiar with Gorguts already. It’s for this reason that releasing Pleiades’ Dust as an EP finally makes sense to me; though it’s enough material for a full album, it’s not the right material to make a Gorguts album; an interesting if not terribly inventive offshoot from the discography of one of metal’s most forward-thinking bands. Despite the EP’s ambitions, it really is a snapshot of a band in stasis, and hopefully between – and not beyond – innovations.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 |Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: gorguts.bandcamp.com | gorguts.com | facebook.com/gorguts 
Releases Worldwide: May 13th, 2016

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  1. Yes, really.
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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Fantastic review, worded perfectly. Colin Marston is an absolute legend. While this definitely isn’t pushing the envelope like previous releases from what I have heard so far, I am still loving what I am hearing. Though it could definitely be more experimental given the run time, and given the fact that it is an EP. I would personally say it sits closer to a 3.5 than a 3.0, but I see exactly where you are coming from.

    • And let’s not forget that usually, when Colin is involved, you can expect an awesome sounding record to boot.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        That’s primarily what I was getting at, though his bass work is still fantastic. Don’t know how many of you guys have seen his billing page for his studio, but this is written at the bottom:

        “Please do not heavily compress or peak-limit you final mixes unless you intend to make a noise record!

        Leaving plenty of headroom will allow me to provide you with a better-sounding final master.

        Digital audio still sounds pretty good when its dynamic range is greater than 1 db!”

        I think EVERY studio should adopt this.

  • André Snyde Lopes
  • El_Cuervo

    More impressive as a whole than in individual moments – I agree.

    • So do …. nevermind.

      • El_Cuervo

        I would upload a hilarious bro meme (involving penises) but SD always overlooks the verification of my top notch memes so it would be hidden.

        • André Snyde Lopes

          Only the freshest memes are allowed.

          • [not a Dr]

            Like spheres, unicorns and Jorn?

  • AndySynn

    I feel like a mere 3.0 is underselling it quite a bit, though I do agree with the conclusion (to an extent) that it wouldn’t have been right to make this the “next album proper”. It feels like a side-step, rather than a step forwards, from “Coloured Sands”. I mean that in a good way however.

    • Name’s Dalton

      Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little sidesteppin’, when the the music is this fine.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Well put, and I envy you having seem them perform it live.

      Magnificent, Dürer-like cover art.

    • Whiskeyjack

      Andy, do you have a review for Pleides Dust coming soon on NCS? would be interested to hear a second opinion from someone who’s musical tastes mirror my own more closely. (No offence Kronos, I love what you guys do here)

  • BranMakMorn

    “whether it’s about fractious nationalism or sodomizing corpses, I expect death metal to deliver the musical goods”

    A true gem of a sentence.

    • Dead1

      Except 9 times out of 10 it’s some boring gore band.
      As for the Gorguts EP, I like it even though it doesn’t “move forward.” It’s well executed and most important enjoyable and that’s really the main thing!

  • Kronos, this may very well be my favorite review you have ever written. Well done, sir. Well done.

    Btw, as soon as I saw Meshuggah in bold, I thought of “I”.

    • Kronos

      Thanks. This was a tough one to handle.

  • Whiskeyjack

    This makes me sad, I fucking love Coloured Sands and had this right at the top of my anticipated releases list…

    Will you guys be doing a review of Schammasch’s Triangle album? seems like a big deal from what Mr Synn was saying on NCS.

    • Kronos

      AMG has embargoed all triple albums since the whole Swallow the Sun Debacle. For the record, I’m in favor of less than 100 minute albums as well.

      • Whiskeyjack

        Where’s that mischievous anarchist: “Steel Druhm” when you need him!?

        • Kronos

          Not listening to that Sammitch album, I can assure you.

          • Damn right I’m not!

          • Whiskeyjack

            I’m sensing some misdirection here! the denials seem a little too emphatic!

      • Tom Hardy

        With the exception of Colored Sands mate?

        • Kronos

          Colored Sands could have used some trimming. Gorguts albums tend to be too long.

          • Tom Hardy

            And your favorite Gorguts album would be?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Im going to jump in here and say Coloured Sands is not only their best work but one of the best or most significant DM albums in a long time… One of the few times Ive not been bothered by a long run time.

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            It is undeniably my favourite (with “Erosion-” following shortly behind) but I feel Ulcerate’s “Everything is Fire” was considerably more important in shaping current tech-death than “Coloured Sands”.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            They’re like two fine bottles of aged Japanese scotch shimmering on the top shelf in the mood lit bar of death metal :)

          • Kronos

            Even though tons of modern bands are looking at Gorguts’ back catalog for inspiration, the drive wouldn’t have been there without Ulcerate.

          • From Wisdom to Hate feels like the perfect balance of riffs (and actual songs for that matter) with the slightly mind-bending insanity of Obscura.

          • SuzyC

            Too long? Five albums, three are 40 minutes or less, one is over an hour by 25 seconds, and one other by three minutes. The long records are both concept albums. And relatively short ones by modern standards, I believe.

  • Tom Hardy

    Having read the review, I can’t wait for my record to arrive so I can listen to all of it and let the music breathe for a couple of months.

    Good review Kronos, must’ve been a hard egg to crack. Was it the most challenging review you’ve had to write this year because Hey it’s the mighty Gorguts (!) or words came by easy to express your thought. And, did it change for you since the first few spins?

    • Kronos

      Actually my opinion on this has been quite stable. I was underwhelmed at first and remain underwhelmed.

  • SegaGenitals

    I am excited for this to drop. Need me some Gorguts.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Well put Kronos, Coloured Sands is probably my favourite album of the last 5 years or so I still find something new overtime I listen to it.
    I’m going to wait to hear this before I make a judgement I gotta say the embedded potion of the song has me keen.
    Normally I’m really not into, one mega song album/eps. Sometimes it seems a bit more like a band flexing their musical muscle and showing off rather than something thats organic or important to do for the material.
    Though if theres any band that can change my opinion there it would be Gorguts.

  • Bart the Repairman

    Pleasure to read, but the sentence right under the band photo made me frown.
    I think that in the case of any concept album, especially if it’s one long piece of music, it should be considered as a great achievement, when the whole thing make bigger impression than single parts.
    It also crossed my mind, that current explosion of experimental, dissonant metal (it seems like the next big think after all the djenty madness) can put Gorguts in a different light and kind of exert pressure on them. When they just speak the language they established, it’s „safely played” and not avant-garde enough.
    Anyway, I’m writing it without knowing the whole EP, so maybe after that I will delete all that bullshit and fully agree with you, Kronos.

  • Lipsy

    Nice to see Hamelin back behind the kit for them. I loved his playing on Martyr’s swan song and think his playing really fits Gorguts’ style. Excited to hear this!

  • Ukros

    I really like it (not as much as I like Obscura, of course)… but… Did they REALLY need to do a 33-minutes song instead of 3-4 shorter songs?

  • ben

    Well written review, but giving this album a 3/5 is a travesty in my books. This is a true gem. Will stand the test of time as one of Gorguts finest moment.

  • SegaGenitals

    This release is a solid 4 in my book.