March 26, 2012
Gorod - A Perfect Absolution (2012)
Technical death metal often gets criticized as sterile, soulless wankery and I can certainly see where some of these detractors are coming from, but after listening to Gorod's latest effort, A Perfect Absolution, I can safely claim that they are above such criticism. In fact, these French bros have grown into a force to be reckoned with.
What makes Gorod stand out in the sea of tech death bands is their ability to create superbly intricate, atmospheric music that's both heavy and beautiful. The first song on the album, Birds of Sulphur, features a brief, eerie introduction punctuated by an unnerving, dissonant orchestral layer, then dives straight into insanely fast and brutal riffing. It's a massive aural assault, with the two guitarists often engaging in extended, intertwining lead duels that are just spectacular to hear, while the bass carries the song's heaviness with its thick, warm, independent lines and the drummer puts the beating on his kit. The vocals gave me a bit of a scare at first, since the very first words are delivered in an over-processed, Behemoth-like voice, but thankfully the vocalist settles into a more composed growl interspersed with a few high-pitched shrieks.
The first half of the album seems to focus more on outright brutality - don't get me wrong, though, there are plenty of awesome melodic guitar solos - but the second half of A Perfect Absolution is where things really get interesting. The band starts mixing it up and adds a lot of jazz and progressive elements to their music, so all of the sudden you're faced with unpredictable rhythm changes, warm guitar interludes, lightning-fast shredding, dual vocal attacks, intense grooves, outer-space solos and even spoken word bits. All of these elements are masterfully combined like a giant puzzle, making for an extremely engaging and fascinating listen, as the songs move effortlessly from frantic whirlwinds of technical riffing to quieter moments that give you a chance to catch your breath.
Of course, such a complex album requires multiple listens to take it all in, but, after listening to it pretty much every day for the last week, all I can say is that A Perfect Absolution is a fantastic record. It might even be the best Gorod album to date. Tight musicianship, great vocals, brilliant songwriting - you can't go wrong with this one.
PS: There are also two awesome guest appearances on this album, namely Michael Keene of The Faceless who plays the second guitar solo on The Axe of God and Christian Muenzner of Obscura/Spawn of Possession fame who plays the entire solo on Carved in the Wind. Just thought you should know.