Music / Gorguts
Gorguts are a Canadian Avant-Garde Technical Death Metal
band. They formed in 1989 with Luc Lemay (vocals and guitar), Sylvain Marcoux (guitar), Éric Giguère (bass guitar) and Stephane Provencher (drums) as the original lineup. After a deal struck with Roadrunner with their demo, they released their debut album in 1991, later being released in 2004 along with the sophomore effort following suit. The first two albums are old-school death metal and are regarded as atypical efforts for the band, although many fans still regard them very highly.
In 1993, activity ceased until 1998, with Obscura
being released, with Lemay being the only original member left. When Hurdle left, Lemay got yet another new lineup. Steve MacDonald commited suicide in 2002, leading to Gorguts' split.
In 2008, however, Lemay reformed the band with yet another new lineup. Within that time up till 2013, they had been working on new material, which was leaked 2 months in advance, with label Season of Mist releasing a digital release a month after.
As of March 2014, John Longstreth is no longer a member, as his schedule with Origin
was incompatible with that of Gorguts. Patrice Hamelin has been manning the kit live since 2011, and is now credited as an official member in the packaging of Pleiades' Dust
- Luc Lemay – vocals, guitar (1989–2005, 2008–present)
- Kevin Hufnagel – guitar (2009–present)
- Colin Marston – bass guitar (2009–present)
- Patrice Hamelin – drums (live, 2011-present; studio, 2014-present)
Notable Past Members
- Steeve Hurdle (RIP 2012) – guitar, vocals (1993–1999)
- Steve MacDonald (RIP 2002) – drums (1993–1995, 1998–2002)
- Dan Mongrain – guitar (1999–2001)
- John Longstreth – drums (2009–2014)
- Considered Dead (1991)
- The Erosion of Sanity (1993)
- Obscura (1998)
- From Wisdom to Hate (2001)
- Colored Sands (2013)
- Pleiades' Dust (2016) - EP
This band provides the examples of the following:
- Album Intro Track: "...and Then Comes Lividity"
- All There in the Manual: Several albums have flavour text explaining the background of the album's concept or providing additional detail for the songs' lyrics.
- Altum Videtur: The chorus of "Obscura" is in Latin.
- And Now For Something Completely Different/Genre Adultery: "The Battle of Chamdo" uses a string quartet instead of the usual distorted guitar/bass/drums instrumentation of death metal. It's still dissonant and creepy, though. "Clouded" also counts, being so slow in tempo that it could be considered a Death/Doom song.
- Pleiades' Dust in spades, returning to the Obscura sound and being more abstract than that. Hell, many fans have begun to compare the music to that of Deathspell Omega.
- Avant-Garde Metal: They are credited with bringing avant-garde influences into Death Metal. Other bands before them, such as Demilich, had already done this to a certain extent, but arguably no one had done this to the extent that Gorguts did with Obscura.
- Badass Bookworm: Part of Pleiades' Dust focuses on Al-Ma'mun, who was definitely an example of this trope. After conquering new lands, instead of demanding gold from those he defeated, he would demand books from their libraries. He then used the knowledge from these books to strengthen his rule.
- Bolero Effect: Pleiades' Dust does this pretty often.
- Bookends: Lyrically, Pleiades' Dust opens and closes with the couplet "Scornful dogma / Withering era". It also opens describing the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, and closes describing the fall of Baghdad in the thirteenth century. Both of these resulted in lengthy dark ages (the former of which were, of course, the Dark Ages). Musically, its opening and closing are structured similarly, as well.
- Breather Episode: "The Battle of Chamdo" again, sort of. It's intentionally structured as the midpoint of the album, with the first four songs focussing on "the splendours of [Tibet], the culture, the topography, the geography", and the latter four focussing on "the country being invaded, people protesting through immolation, people getting killed trying to escape". "The Battle of Chamdo" represents the 1950 Chinese invasion, but unlike the rest of the album, which is Technical Death Metal, "Battle" is a neoclassical composition for string quartet inspired by Dmitri Shostakovich and Krzysztof Penderecki. There are a few passages on Pleiades' Dust that serve similar purposes, with the longest being the one from about seventeen minutes into the piece until about twenty-one minutes into the piece (which incorporates the instrumental movement "Stranded Minds on the Shadow of Doubt").
- Concept Album: Colored Sands explores Tibet and its relation to the outside world. Pleiades' Dust takes a historical perspective on the Middle East and its relation to the outside world.
- Death Metal: Since their beginning, they've always been rooted in this style. Their old material was an old-school example of the genre, while they've added avant-garde, technical, and progressive influences starting with Obscura, for which they've become a Trope Codifier (see below).
- Despair Event Horizon: How MacDonald was Driven to Suicide.
- Downer Beginning: As mentioned above, Pleiades' Dust opens with the fall of the Roman Empire.
- Downer Ending: Pleiades' Dust ends with the Islamic Golden Age being overrun by the Mongols in the mid-thirteenth century. Thousands were slaughtered, including some of the brightest minds of the age, and entire libraries were thrown in the river. It took centuries for Baghdad to recover. Real Life Writes the Plot and Truth in Television as, of course, this actually happened.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Compared to what would follow, Considered Dead and to a lesser extent The Erosion of Sanity are very traditional death metal, as opposed to the band's later work.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "The Quest for Equilibrium" stands out as a particularly obvious example, but the band have a few others as well.
- Epic Rocking: Many of their songs, especially post-Obscura. Pleiades' Dust is a full EP comprised of one thirty-three-minute track (although it is divided into seven separate movements, of which the longest is itself nearly twelve minutes long); their longest standalone album tracks are "Clouded" (9:32) and "Absconders" (9:08).
- Fading into the Next Song: Several transitions on Colored Sands and From Wisdom to Hate do this (some specific examples on From Wisdom are listed below under Siamese Twin Songs). "Obscura" also fades into "Earthly Love".
- Gratuitous French: The song title "La Vie est prélude... (la mort, orgasme)" translates as "Life Is Prelude (Death, Orgasm)". It is worth noting that the French use the phrase "la petite mort" ("the little death") as a euphemism for orgasm. Justified Trope, since the band are from Quebec.
- Horrible History Metal: Colored Sands focuses on Tibet's horrible history and ends up questioning whether nonviolence can be effective in the modern world, and Pleiades' Dust focuses on the House of Wisdom and the Islamic Golden Age. The latter doesn't play the trope straight for its entire running time, but given the fall of the Roman Empire at the start of the album and the fall of Baghdad at the end, it certainly encompasses the trope.
- Humans Are Bastards: This seems to be a central theme of Colored Sands. Lemay has commented in interviews how utterly inoffensive the entire history of the Tibetan people has been; nonviolence and love towards one's enemies have been a central part of their teachings for centuries, and "they're not interested in the concepts of jealousy, domination, [or] megalomania". They have been rewarded by being subjected to torture, imprisonment, and other atrocities. Lemay questions both whether the Tibetan people can survive and what is fundamentally wrong with humanity that they have been treated in such a fashion. The title relates to the ground being "colored by suffering" and the fact that "nobody puts a real foot down to help them and get the Chinese out of there".
- I Am the Band: Luc Lemay. However, this is Played With as Lemay allows the other musicians to come up with their own parts for the songs starting with Colored Sands. Hufnagel and Marston also each contributed a track to Colored Sands, and before that album Lemay often cowrote many of the songs with other band members. However, by virtue of the fact that he's been the only constant member, Lemay is definitely the name most associated with the group.
- Instrumentals: "...and Then Comes Lividity", "Waste of Mortality", "Sweet Silence", "Testimonial Ruins", "The Battle of Chamdo", "Stranded Minds on the Shadow of Doubt". Some of these play with the trope by providing flavour text for the songs (quotes from historical works for "Stranded Minds" and text apparently written by the band members themselves for "Testimonial Ruins") in the liner notes.
- Last Note Nightmare, Nothing Is Scarier, and Scare Chord: The ending of "Sweet Silence". It ends with a period of sustained silence punctuated by occasional uses of a slowed-down sample of the last chord of the song. Each time, the sample gets slightly lower in pitch and the time between uses of the sample increases. Several people have commented that it's one of the most terrifying parts of the album. This also counts as a case of Meaningful Name, since of course the silence is a rather large part of the reason the ending is so effective. (The song title may also be a Shout-Out to the Copenhagen studio in which Metallica recorded several of their most acclaimed albums, including Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets).
- Loudness War: Played straight on the CD versions of Obscura and From Wisdom to Hate (both DR5), which is likely intended to make the sound of those albums even more dense and impenetrable, but averted on the LP versions (both of which are DR10 in the War on Music pressings, and probably at similar ranges on the Century Media ones). Also averted on Colored Sands and Pleiades' Dust (respectively DR9 and DR8 on their CD versions), which probably isn't much of a surprise to anyone familiar with Colin Marston's mastering on other bands' works.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally in the hard 10 area, with Obscura being the hardest out of the lot due to its noisiness. Portions of their works could be considered to reach 11.
- Mythology: Their lyrical theme on Obscura and From Wisdom to Hate. Releases since their reformation have tended to focus on history.
- New Sound Album:
- Starting with Obscura, they ditched the old-school sound from the previous albums to their noisy, off-kilter, and frequently bizarre style of tech.
- From Wisdom to Hate mixed elements of both Obscura and the two older albums before the latter.
- Colored Sands was overall more on the prog side, with the average song length being around seven minutes and the band acknowledging the influence of Opeth and Porcupine Tree. It's also slightly Lighter and Softer musically than the band's previous work, but the bulk of the emphasis goes on slightly; it's still plenty noisy and dissonant throughout (with the exception of the Dmitri Shostakovich-inspired neoclassical composition "The Battle of Chamdo", which is still dissonant). The band also makes more usage of dynamic range than they did on their previous work, although their next release would incorporate even more of it. Lyrically, it's even Darker and Edgier than the preceding two releases, with Humans Are Bastards being a central theme of the work.
- Pleiades' Dust, while maintaining the noisy and weird sound of their last several releases, takes the prog influences Up to Eleven by structuring the entire release as one song (though it contains seven discrete movements). It also makes more usage of dynamic range than most of the band's previous work, with liberal use of Subdued Sections and the Bolero Effect.
- Progressive Metal: Not on their early material, but arguably by Obscura and certainly by Colored Sands they were a prog death metal band.
- Protest Song: The band's recent material could be considered examples of this trope. Colored Sands focuses on Tibet's mistreatment by the outside world, while a stated objective of the band with Pleiades' Dust was to push back against the stigmatisation of Muslims as terrorists by highlighting some of Islam's historical contributions to world civilisation.
- Revolving Door Band: Quite a few people have been members over the years.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Obscura" -> "Earthly Love"; "The Quest for Equilibrium" -> "Unearthing the Past"; "Elusive Treasures" -> "Das Martyrium des...". Interestingly, despite being on opposite sides of the LP, "The Quest for Equilibrium" and "Unearthing the Past" remain Siamese Twin Songs on the LP version, which means that there is a sudden cutoff at the end of side 1 (but also means that a person ripping the vinyl can preserve the Siamese Twin Songs in their rip).
- Pleiades' Dust is sequenced as a single track but is divided into seven movements in the tradition of old Progressive Rock songs like "Supper's Ready", making it an arguable variant of this trope.
- Signature Style: Dissonant riffs overlapping with avant-garde-style music that happens to be loud and screechy to obtain a sound of uniqueness.
- Special Guest: James Murphy and Chris Barnes on Considered Dead, as well as a group of classical musicians on Colored Sands.
- Spiritual Successor: Negativa was intended to be this. Steeve Hurdle and (for a time) Luc Lemay were both members (Lemay left and reformed Gorguts because he wasn't as interested in the improvisational elements of Negativa's music). Unfortunately, Hurdle's death put a stop to that. The band did release one twenty-minute EP, which is pretty great.
- Start My Own: Negativa was originally the Spiritual Successor of Gorguts before Hurdle decided to change musical directions when he left, leading to the resurrection of Gorguts by Lemay.
- Technical Death Metal: Of the strange, noisy, dissonant type, for which they are generally considered to be the Trope Codifiers.
- Uncommon Time: Plentiful, as is par for the course with Technical Death Metal, although sometimes they'll subvert it. Pleiades' Dust has a lot of passages that sound really complex rhythmically, but when you count them a lot of them come out to 4/4 or 6/8; they're just divided in unusual manners (such as 7/8 alternating with 9/8). The EP still has some straight examples, though.
- Wolverine Publicity: Patrice Hamelin. Basically, if you're from Quebec and play death metal, odds are that he will either join your band or fill in for your drummer live at some point. His unbelievable technical skill and ability to learn large amounts of songs very quickly doesn't hurt either.