It is always odd when you expect one thing and get another. This happens in all kinds of situations: when ordering food, going to a movie, and in this case, listening to music. For many years now, there have been several high-quality metal bands to come out of France. A classic example of course is Gojira, but there is also Klone, Hacride, Betraying the Martyrs, Dagoba, and my new favorite, Kronos. Gorod is another fine French band, forming in Bordeaux in the late 90s. Their debut album “Neurotripsicks” was delayed until 2005, and was issued under the band’s original name, Gorgasm. Their last album, 2012’s “A Perfect Absolution,” was the album that introduced me to the band. It is filled to the brim with quality technical death metal. This month, they will release their latest album, “A Maze of Recycled Creeds,” in North America via Unique Leader Records and in Europe via Listenable Records. Here again I was faced with a situation where I was expecting one thing and got another.
The album cover threw me off right away. A somber scene in black and white, depicting some sort of religious trek, reminded me of a black metal album. According to the band, “A Maze of Recycled Creeds” speaks of the fraternity of the Rose-Croix, specifically the works of French novelist and Martinist Joséphin Péladan (1858 – 1918), a peculiar ‘guru’ claiming to have divine origins from Assyria. An appropriate theme for the musical power that is Gorod.
Then there is the mix. I immediately notice the dryness and thinning of the guitars. Much of the distortion used previously is gone, taking away some of the fullness of the sound. However, the bass is brought up in the mix to compensate, which has a nice effect overall.
Finally, there is the music. Being such fan of “A Perfect Absolution,” of course I expected more fabulous tech-death to continue on the new album. What I did not expect was how funky, jazzy, and melodic the grooves were going to be. After the intro of ‘Air de l’Ordre,’ ‘Temple to the God-Art’ gives you a quick taste of what is to follow. More reminiscent of something from Extol, its punchy, bouncy verses are bridged by melodic chorus and solos, as Gorod stretches what we have known them for. However, whether they are zigzagging their way through Between the Buried and Me territory on ‘Celestial Nature,’ getting Meshuggah-esque during ‘The Mystic Triad of Artistry,’ or tipping their hat to fellow countrymen Gojira on ‘An Order To Reclaim,’ Gorod always keeps their identity intact. Mathieu Pascal whips out the wa-wa pedal for some extra effect on the funky ‘From Passion to Holiness.’ New drummer Karol Diers steam engine chops shift from shuffle to blast to drive ‘Dig Into Yourself,’ and from groovy to jazzy on ‘Rejoice Your Soul’ and closer ‘Syncretic Delirium.’
In my opinion, “A Maze of Recycled Creeds” is more accessible than their previous albums, but not at the expense of the technical and progressive elements that make up the overall sound of the band. Gorod has managed to find a balance between showing off their technical excellence and writing good songs. By combining strong melodies and catchy choruses, the non-traditional song structures and musical U-turns captured on the album are more manageable for the listener. This makes for an album that is certainly some of the best work of Gorod.
- Air de l’Ordre
- Temple to the God-Art
- Celestial Nature
- Inner Alchemy
- The Mystic Triad Of Artistry
- An Order To Reclaim
- From Passion to Holiness
- Dig Into Yourself
- Rejoice Your Soul
- Syncretic Delirium
- An Order to Reclaim (Alternate Version)
Playing Time: 47:44
Release Date: October 16, 2015
Label: North America: Unique Leader Records; Europe: Listenable Records