Canada has quite the variety of musical exports. From indie darlings like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, to melodic punk rockers like Fucked Up and Single Mothers, and classic rock staples like Rush and Neil Young. The Great White North’s musical history is rich with quality, and this is particularly true for Quebec death metal veterans Gorguts. The group was one of 2013’s most buzzed about heavy acts due to their Colored Sands album, their first since 2001’s From Wisdom To Hate. It showcased a true progression in the band’s sound, incorporating elements of technical death metal and progressive metal into the equation. The following year they toured the States alongside UK death metal legends Carcass, who were also fresh off of their 2013 comeback album, Surgical Steel. Since then, camp Gorguts has been relatively quiet on the front of new output; that is, until it was announced they would be releasing Pleiades’ Dust, an EP that consists of one 33-minute track. Though Gorguts is not one of my ultimate favorite bands in the genre, the concept of this record definitely intrigued me, although the execution was just shy of something worth raving over.
Thematically, Pleiades’ Dust revisits a lot of what Gorguts brought to the table on Colored Sands. Middle Eastern imagery, ancient history, and the detailed narrative composed by frontman Luc Lemay all come together in a fairly impressive way on this death metal odyssey. From a technical standpoint, the band members are certainly on form front to back here. The drums are sporadic, the guitars are monstrously heavy, Lemay’s vocals are just as evil as they should be. The music definitely gives off a feeling of being in a desert somewhere at night, and chaos and destruction occurring all around. This is one of the things that I think Gorguts succeeds at on all of their releases, creating a strong sense of surroundings through their music.
My one concern going into this release was that, despite the technical and compositional ability of the band, they may not be able to pull off something that’s consistently stimulating for the entirety of the track. Unfortunately, this did ring a bit true to prediction. When the EP was announced back in February, a six-minute excerpt entitled ‘Wandering Times’ was released to stream. While it’s fairly good at standing as its own piece, Pleiades’ Dust as a whole can be divided into two main portions, separated by some ambient drones that begin around the 18-minute mark. For the first part of the song, it’s a pretty interesting listen. The beginning section is Gorguts as they appear on their previous album, and then later venturing into some really well-crafted instrumental bits. The heavier moments remind me of ‘El Vacio,’ the final track on doom-inspired hardcore group Xibalba’s latest album, Tierra Y Libertad. That particular piece lasts about 13 minutes, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. In the case of Gorguts, the final 14 minutes of Pleiades’ Dust are surprisingly uninspired. It almost seems like once you get past the first two thirds, the track just starts over again with no real difference between its end and its start. There’s not a ton of variation between the more aggressive moments of the two sections, nor the more reserved instrumental passages; Gorguts I think tried to be just a little too ambitious with this project towards the end here.
Overall, there’s not a ton more to say about this record. Gorguts does a pretty good job of holding my interest for the first 20 minutes or so of this EP, but as I stated, the final portion of it (while crushingly heavy) doesn’t add a ton of new ideas to the piece as a whole. I applaud the band for going out of their normal zone and trying something totally crazy, I just wish they would have explored some new territory towards the end.
Written by L. Mounts