(Season of Mist)
Gorguts’ seminal 1998 opus Obscura is generally regarded as one of metal’s most complex and challenging works. It’s emphasis on dissonance, complex and odd structures and experimentation bred a multitude of technical death metal offspring that worshiped, and continue to worship, at the album’s feet. Obscura was a turning point for the Canadian metal act, providing an essential framework for subsequent works. When some bands find a formula that works for them, its not uncommon for them to run that formula into the ground. But not with Gorguts. 2001’s From Wisdom to Hate and 2013’s towering comeback ,Colored Sands, possessed their own unique sounds and atmospheres and were not overshadowed by Obscura‘s legacy. Gorguts continue to evolve, innovate and push the envelope. This brings us to the next stage in their sonic growth, Pleiades’ Dust – a single, ambitious 33-minute composition. This undeniably massive EP further solidifies Gorguts’ place as one of metal’s most forward-thinking acts.
Colored Sands showcased a notable sonic departure from the hellaciousness of From Wisdom to Hate and Obscura. Though the record was extremely complex like its predecessors, the instrumentation was not as unhinged. Colored Sands focused on building sprawling compositions full of suffocating atmospheres and dense, intricate instrumentation. It was essentially controlled chaos. Pleiades’ Dust is the most logical step forward. Everything that made Colored Sands enthralling is condensed to a half-hour and pushed to the brink.
The track begins with a menacing swell of atmosphere and haunting soundscapes before Gorguts brings monstrous, dissonant doom down upon the listener. The instrumentation cycles between malformed doom structures, rife with atonal melodies and eccentric bass lines, to propulsive bursts of disorienting death metal and concussive drumming. The song’s first nine-minutes is a violent struggle between these two extremes, and the listener is trapped in between them and subjected to their torment. The band then briefly step back from the destruction and conjure these icy melodic sections that are entrancing and hypnotic. But it’s not long before the song launches into its second blitz of technical madness.
For the next few minutes, the song switches back and forth between these gargantuan tech metal onslaughts and intricate melodic interludes. Eventually the ruinous rampage bleeds into a lengthy, sparse section of reverberating ambiance. This, unfortunately, is the low-point of the piece. Though having an ambient break in a song of this magnitude is welcomed, its length and unimaginative construction creates a bit of a drag during this portion of the track. After a while the song gradually builds back into its maelstrom of metallic lunacy. Sludgy guitar riffs stomp about like an irate giant and scatter spiraling melodies all over the place. These aberrated funeral marches slowly gain in speed and shift into decimating auditory scatter bombs that are unyielding in their assault. The sprawling leviathan finally comes to a close with a climax of city-leveling riffs and wall of sound that slowly decays into nothingness.
Given that their songs have gotten increasingly longer over the span of three albums, it is not surprising that Gorguts would choose to write a song of this span and scope. It seems that Gorguts’ music, for the most part, excels greatly in longer form. Pleiades’ Dust‘s length gives the band opportunities to explore different avenues, experiment with different methods and challenge themselves more than ever before. The EP contains an entire full-length’s worth of Gorgutsian avant-garde insanity condensed into one 33-minute tune. With this record, Gorguts continue to be true trendsetters and put their imitators to shame. (Lane Oliver)