Gorguts - Obscura review
|Release date:||June 1998|
02. Earthly Love
03. The Carnal State
05. The Art Of Sombre Ecstasy
07. Subtle Body
08. Rapturous Grief
09. La Vie Est Prelude
11. Faceless Ones
12. Sweet Silence
It's hard to know where to begin with Gorguts's Obscura. This album is one of the strangest pieces of music I have ever listened to. What others have said about it tends to vary between people who claim that it isn't music at all, but just an hour of random noises, to people who claim that it is the greatest metal album of all time. I tend to side with the latter, but it is hard not to have some sort of sympathy for the former.
For starters, let me say that this is not an album for everyone. It is a death metal album that has heavily downtuned guitars and lots of growling and screaming. Those who prefer softer sounds should stay away. It is also an experimental avant-guarde album that features unusual music and does not conform to most of the musical structures that people associate with death metal. Die hard genre-nazis should also probably keep their distance. For those who remain, buckle your seat belts.
It takes about 5 seconds of the openning title track to realize that something very strange is going on. The guitars are highly dissonant, and the time intervals between notes seem really odd. There is a sort of beat, but it is extremely irregular, and is mostly punctuated by abundant diminished chords. The drumming doesn't quite follow the natural tempo either but rather heads off in it's own direction. Soon, Luc's voice kicks in and adds another highly confusing layer to the already dizzying mixture. What the hell is going on??
And that is pretty much a good description of the entire album. The guitarwork remains deliberately dissonant, avoiding any standard harmonics. The diminished chords smack you upside the head over and over, and the time signatures are horribly irregular. The closest comparison I know of comes from experimental jazz music, mostly played by people who are crazy.
Well, is this all completely random? Have they lost their minds, too? Actually, no. For starters, random noise would sound a lot more natural than this. They have deliberately chosen to break harmony in a truly gruesome way. There are a number of repeating patterns, and even some things that might pass for riffs. The song structures make sense in their own way too. For example, on the song "Nostalgia" there is a repeating phrase that starts out about 15 seconds long, but just starts to get slower and slower as the song moves on.
The musicianship cannot be called into question. Their previous albums were both very technical and executed to perfection, and for that matter, this one, when you think of it, contains entire guitar solos in nothing but diminished chords and time signatures that seem impossible to keep track of.
The lyrics are highly abstract (and quite intelligent) although they are not mind boggling poetry. The production is good, but not spectacular. The vocals are very harsh and approrpiately brutal. I could go on about all of these minor details, but what it really boils down to is that this is one of the most unique albums in metal history. Anyone who is into death metal and truly open minded should at least be familiar with this record, and probably should own a copy.
Despite what it sounds like, this album is still music. If you listen to it enough, it will begin to make sense, and it will blow your mind. You may not like it at all, but you should at least give it a couple of spins before you decide.
Highlights: Obscura, the openning track and probably the most accessible one; Nostalgia, probably the best track - toward the middle it slows down and just starts getting slower and slower until the end of the song; Illuminatus, this was the first track I actually managed to enjoy - it happened the second time through the album.
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| Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
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