Gorguts – “Pleiades’ Dust”

Legendary avant-garde death metal band Gorguts are back with another masterpiece. Pleiades’ Dust takes the foundational music elements that worked so well on Gorguts’ previous album (2013’s Colored Sands) and moulds them into a very different form. Inspired by Deathspell Omega’s EP ‘Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Katechon’, Pleiades’ Dust takes the form of a single 33 minute song that traces the rise and fall of the House of Wisdom, an ancient library that once stood in Baghdad before it was sacked by the Mongols.

A lot of what we heard on Colored Sands is still here: Heavy, technical guitarwork, layered to create a churning, suffocating atmosphere; jarring dissonance and unexpected shifts in time signatures; varied, creative percussion; a very prominent low-end bass sound that frequently plays off against the guitars in a fascinating way; and Luc Lemay’s utterly ferocious guttural roar as he walks us through this tale of destruction. The interplay between the lead guitar and Marston’s bass, frequently playing in counterpoint, as well as the dizzying, churning rhythm of Lemay’s guitarwork create an almost overwhelming sound.

It is a daunting challenge to take on a 33 minute song, and tricky to keep things interesting all the way through. But the interplay between the softer ambient-influenced moments and the heavier, louder moments works well, serving to tastefully divide between each movement but without reducing the EP to simply sounding like seven completely different songs. They also serve to offer some respite from the abrasiveness of Gorguts’ auditory assault. Motifs that appear early on return later and are explored in new ways, adding further layers to the sound. The extended form of this EP gives Gorguts even more space to really follow their twisted avant-garde tendencies, giving the music room to breathe, before plunging you back head-first into their potent brand of death metal.

So while Pleiades’ Dust doesn’t fundamentally reinvent the Gorguts sound, compositionally it’s their most complex and challenging release to date; while not as chaotic and unpredictable as Obscura, the overall flow displays a level of maturity not present on that release. Everything about this EP was immaculately composed and arranged, with such a strong grasp of musical theory and such self-confidence that each of the seven movements of this EP manage to be simultaneously exciting and interesting without feeling stitched together at the seams. That is an enormous accomplishment for any band, and it is particularly praiseworthy that Gorguts are continuing to challenge themselves this far into their career as a band. No one could accuse them of playing it safe.

A consistently exciting release of extraordinary depth, Gorguts have delivered yet another stunning piece of avant-garde death metal insanity.