EP Review: GORGUTS Pleiades' Dust
When I took the assignment for reviewing the new Gorguts EP I anticipated the critical and fan response. I have traversed from site to site and can’t help but smile while the thing is blasting into my ears at near deafening volumes (when the music is blasting anyway). And I can’t help but celebrate and bask in this album’s glory. There’s no way I can open this with any surprises or new ideas that haven’t already been said by someone else. Pleiades’ Dust is truly a magnificent masterpiece from one of the most challenging metal bands in the history of the genre. And if you’ve been avoiding it or haven’t heard it, it’s damn time you did. Even if you don’t like death metal. Everything following this paragraph is a reiteration of what you’ve already read anywhere else. But there’s plenty on this EP that deserves and even demands reiteration.
The fact that Gorguts only temporarily departed as a band is a blessing upon the genre. Oh, there’s plenty of good that’s still being squeezed out of the death metal genre (Horrendous for example) but there has never been anyone who could fill the shoes and gap that Gorguts left. Sure the band wasn’t really the forerunner in their heyday and never got the recognition they deserved until after their departure. And were pretty screwed label-wise (back in the day), especially concerning their debut Considered Dead. But their disjointed/gorgeous/brutal/brilliant compositions have since turned heads and snapped necks. The mighty Obscura alone deserves your ears and your patience. And perhaps by now fans have learned that Gorguts isn’t a band that you can just listen to, get into and get on top of. And with Pleiades' Dust, Luc Lemay (the only original member still in the band) has once again done anything but given us something…digestible.
There are no bands like Gorguts in metal. I want you to re-read that sentence a few times in case you misunderstood it or think you’ve got some sort of comparable name lodged in your head. And furthermore, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Pleiades’ Dust is a piece that comes straight off the heels of Colored Sands as some sort of successor. Upon the first few listens I can see how you’d get that with the dissonant sound, orchestrative approach and disjointed composition. Pleiades’ Dust isn’t your typical 4/4 approach; it doesn’t dabble in safety. Is it still there though? Yes, actually. But you’ll notice that Lemay and crew haven't been the kind of composers that play to expectations or genre standards.
Pleiades’ Dust plays mostly in the progressive death metal that we had heard on Colored Sands. But, to reiterate myself, this isn’t that album. Pleiades’ Dust takes Gorguts further down an experimental lane with more somber moments and a more epic flow. The way that Colin Marston (bass), Kevin Hufnagel (guitar) and Patrice Hamelin (drums) play with Lemay brings out a feeling of discomfort. How? The simple fact that Gorguts expand their vision here beyond even death metal. Colored Sands gave them that avant-garde edge previously, but here they play with their possibilities even more. Death metal still remains the core, however, but the piece also encompasses experimental textures of progressive rock/metal, classical composition, a bit of thrash (see: around 6:50) and ambient minimalism.
And you’d think, perhaps, you’d even expect with some bands nowadays, how congested, forced and contrived that may sound. No, not a chance. The band chemistry here is spectacular. Both Hufnagel and Marstron were on the Colored Sands album and, in case you didn’t already know, both know how to play to and with Lemay’s vision. The album comes off as natural and beautiful sounding. And when it’s done, it can leave you practically weeping. Every step, every bit that sounds off, every mistake, misstep, and perfectly nailed note culminates to something greater in the scope of the EP. Much like the library that the album lyrically explores, it is an ocean, or rather in this case a (lyrically speaking) house, of compositional wisdom in its approach.
The loss of the House of Wisdom is felt through its seven parts. Lemay lyrically explores the library and brings forth a deep sorrow of another unfortunate triumph of war and violence over scholarship, logic and intelligence. Another senseless act of violence and oppression. And unflinchingly, Lemay takes us on the journey. And having personally worked at a library in the past, it only serves to pour a bit of salt on the wound. Because there is no greater tragedy than lost knowledge and cultural/scientific growth in the petty name of war.
Pleiades’ Dust is a challenging and rewarding record by one of death metal’s most challenging bands. There isn’t an ounce of wasted time throughout its thirty-three-minute running time. Every sound that comes off this record is purely classic and a watershed moment for Gorguts. If you think this is overblown you either: haven’t spent enough time with this album or haven’t spent enough time with the Gorguts discography. If you hear someone say that they’re the most messed up death metal band of all time, they’re not wrong. And it’s not because they’re some sort of twisted gore freaks. It’s because Lemay and co are the best composers the genre will ever see. Pour over this record. Give it your full attention and give yourself to the history contained within. There is probably not going to be a better death metal record coming out this year. But should we even bother calling this death metal anymore? While the EP, again, remains core, Gorguts are quickly moving beyond it.
You can stream Pleiades' Dust here.
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