Confession time: I am not the biggest fan of technical death metal. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the classics, such as Death and Atheist, as well as choice cuts from Cynic. But the genre as a whole suffers from either too many scale acrobatics, or way too much chugging on the low string on a 7-, 8-, or even 9-string guitar to even warrant such a overly abused tag such as “technical.” In other words, technical metal bores me to tears most of the time. You know what doesn’t bore me, though? Canada’s Gomorrah. AMG Himself raved about the duo’s second album, the colossal The Haruspex, showing that, when done right, technical death metal can be just as powerful, catchy, and fucking brutal as its more visceral siblings.1 What makes it odd is that we learned of its self-titled follow-up a mere week before release, and it almost didn’t get reviewed due to time constraints.
Which would be a shame, as this album straight-up dwarfs its predecessor. Sure, it still takes cues from Behemoth (atmospherically) and Anaal Nathrakh (brutally), but in the three years since The Haruspex, vocalist Jeff Bryan and guitarist Bowen Matheson have not only strengthened and broadened their capabilities, they somehow became stronger songwriters to boot.2 Once opener “Ember” picks up from its ambient intro, all their trademarks appear: pitch-shifted guitar bends that ooze and undulate, rhythmic growling, and borderline militaristic drumming by hired drum god Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, ex-Necrophagist/Obscura), but the hooks dig deeper than before. Once again, Matheson’s guitar work is in full, glorious display, but not once do his solos or hooks overpower the other instruments. Everything works together in lock-step, and “Embers” capably sets the album up for something special.
Because the rest of Gomorrah rips just as hard, if not harder. Lead-off single “Frailty” contains some of Grossman’s craziest fills and Matheson’s sickest modular bends, but instead of warring against each other, they fit in a pocket that grooves as tightly as it impresses. “For Those of Eld,” when it’s not blasting you a new orifice, floors you with some incredibly atmospheric passages and melodies. Closer “Of Ghosts and the Grave,” the song’s longest track at a hair under four minutes, builds to a powerful climax that leaves you wanting more. In fact, once the album wrapped up, I quickly kept replaying it. Not just for review purposes, but because I was honestly impressed by how tight, well-written, and beautifully fluid the album is.
Hell, even the production, this time by Grossman and Gomorrah themselves, saw a necessary face lift, giving the bass a little bit of wiggle room this time, and the drums sound and feel more organic.3 If there is a knock against Gomorrah it’s that once again the guitars take too much space front-and-center, but considering Matheson is a gifted songwriter and guitarist, it isn’t so much a complaint as an observation. Otherwise, I haven’t been this impressed by a technical death metal album without the words “Triumphant” or “Imperial” in the band name in a long time. None of the songs outstay their welcome, and each track is a brutal wonder to absorb and enjoy.
It’s not often that I gush over a death metal album. While my exposure to extreme music started via death metal, it’s largely left me unimpressed due to lack of creativity, with some massive exceptions. Gomorrah doesn’t bore, and Gomorrah deserves all the attention that will no doubt be shoveled their way on the strength of this album. In a just world, Gomorrah should be leveling heads while impressing the fuck out of everyone with not only their technical prowess, but their heft and songwriting. It’s truly your loss if you pass this one by.
- No lie. If you don’t believe me, go give “Dismantling the Throne” a listen. It says more in its barely three minute runtime than most songs do at three times its length, and it’s grotesque and disgusting in its brutality, yet glorious and even a bit regal in its technicality. ↩
- No mean feat, since The Haruspex was a strong album from beginning to end. ↩
- Because… Grossman. ↩
- It’s a brand new label, so no website at the time of writing other than a Facebook page. ↩