A Perfect Absolution
You might have thought by now that technical death metal had started to become the old whippersnapper whose best days were behind it, largely thanks to the swathe of Meshuggah clones who’ve pounded their own groove-laden, off-kilter route, an underground resurgence in old-school death metal and perhaps simply the failure of bands within the technical death metal sub-genre to really build on their previous successes. Yes, The Faceless*, Necrophagist – I am looking at you and pointing to my watch (*note: The Faceless have since confirmed a release date for their new album)
Yet despite that, its been proven that the weedly-weedly approach can still draw the punters, with Athiest returning strongly, and new bands such as Revocation and Spawn of Possession electrifying with their approaches to this niche. One such band I had reservations on were Gorod, who despite a boatload of hype upon their wider emergence a few years back didn’t really thrill me with their breakthrough fifth album ‘Process of a New Decline’, which at times really seemed to want to push how weedly-whoo one could get, over actual clever songwriting. Not that it was particularly bad – it certainly has its great moments, but not enough for it to really shine in comparison to the rest of their discography.
Gorod too, seemed to disappear off my radar for a little while, although they did come back with the ‘Transcendance’ EP last year, along with its sprawling 15-minute title track, before re-emerging with their sixth album, ‘A Perfect Absolution’. If anyone deserves a medal for most improved this year, then Gorod would certainly be contenders for the gold.
Known for their love of concepts, ‘A Perfect Absolution’ is based on Kiev in the year 945, “when Igor, King of Kiev, was murdered…while collecting a “tribute” while visiting his Pagan neighbours the Derevlians, who lived in a forest. After the incident, his widow, Olga, avenged him in an extremely harsh manner before converting to Orthodox Christianity“. Nice. Compared to ‘Process of a New Decline’, the song-writing appears to have gone up a notch, the songs sound a lot tighter, and the new members, Julien Deyres (vocals) and Nicolas Alberny (guitar) have bedded right in with the simplest of ease. No signs of any transitional problems whatsoever for their first album without previous members Guillaume and Arnaud. Key to this is the rediscovery of groove, and a refrained approach to the technical stuff. Instead of becoming a molten mass of wizardry, Gorod appear to have struck the right balance, ably to mix their usual flamboyance with catchy grooves and a much more precise attack.
Two key songs that sum up this improvement would be ‘5000 at the Funeral’, and ‘Varangian Paradise’, the former beginning with a piano-driven melody before getting right back into their usual swing. The chug is an overdone thing in metal, but its still one hell of a tool in priming for an assault, and Deyres’ low spoken growl at the beginning sits nicely atop it before they all really lower the boom. The latter is really the Bordeaux, France act’s supreme indulgence, kicking off with a massive stadium-sized riff that ought to have thousands, and not hundreds, pogoing in unison, before kicking back with some laid-back flamenco chords plucked directly from the schools of Athiest, Cynic and Latin America.
Overall, this is perhaps Gorod’s most diverse album to date, having sprung a move that I dare say will open them up to wider audiences, without shedding too much of their skill. They’ve created an album free completely free of filler and their urges to let the guitars have complete maraudering freedom have been pinned down and refined from a technical stew to a precise technical brew. And a concept album in 39 minutes! Wowzers. It seems there’s nothing Gorod won’t try out, and that’s what makes them all the more exciting. Let’s give them the attention they really deserve.