(Professor D. Grover the XIIIth returns to NCS with the following review of Gorod’s new album, which is set for release on March 7th.)
Greetings and salutations, friends. If you’re reading this, I can only hope that you are familiar with French tech-death masters Gorod, whose career now spans two and a half decades (counting their early years as Gorgasm). The Orb is only their seventh full-length release, with a pair of EPs (and a couple early demos) sprinkled in, but at this point in their career their work has reached legend status in certain corners of the metal world. In my humble esteem, Gorod have for me represented the gold standard of modern tech-death ever since Process Of A New Decline, the album that truly got me interested in tech-death in the first place, and while that release remains my favorite to this day their output has been consistently high.
Gorod‘s style has evolved incrementally with each release, with the biggest shifts generally following a change in the band’s lineup. While the band have been spearheaded from the beginning by guitarist Mathieu Pascal and bassist Benoit Claus, the additions of guitarist Nicolas Alberny and, later, drummer Karol Diers have contributed to the band’s growth. The most notable change came with the additional of current vocalist Julien “Nutz” Deyres after the release of Process, and he made his presence and expanded vocal range felt immediately on the Transcendence EP, especially on that release’s 15 minute title track. ‘Transcendence’ brought with it an expanded focus on progression that paired exceptionally well with the band’s technical prowess and knack for writing catchy hooks and grooves, and the band has further explored that progression on subsequent releases.
photos by Pierre Wetzel
The Orb feels like a culmination of the band’s career arc thus far, taking elements from various parts of the band’s discography and bringing them together in an album that almost feels like a retrospective. The album starts full speed with ‘Chrematheism’, a track that really feels like a throwback to Gorod‘s early work and serves as an excellent reminder that Deyres does an excellent job of replicating the death metal vocals of his predecessor Guillaume Martinot. ‘We Are The Sun Gods’, the track that immediately follows, also feels like early Gorod, but more specifically like a track on Process with Pascal and Alberny‘s extended melodic tapping harmonies.
Conversely, the title track is all about groove and melody, with a slower pace and clean vocals that strongly recall parts of Transcendence. Meanwhile, songs like ‘Breeding Silence’, ‘Victory’, and ‘Scale Of Sorrows’ are more representative of Gorod‘s more recent output on Maze Of Recycled Creeds and Æthra, with Deyres using his more midrange bark. The biggest curveballs on The Orb come from a pair of tracks, and for different reasons.
The first major surprises come with the track ‘Waltz Of Shades’, which starts with and features several different dissonant chord selections. I’m not the biggest fan of dissonance in my music, and it’s been a rarity in Gorod‘s previous work. The other thing that makes ‘Waltz Of Shades” different is that, rhythmically, it is a waltz, playing out in ¾ time. Now, it seems unlikely that you’ll see anyone dancing a box step to this track, but, y’know, you could if you really wanted to.
The other major curveball on the album is its closing track, ‘Strange Days’, which definitively proves that you can make a tech cover of a song by The Doors. Ultimately, however, I feel that including this track as a part of the main tracklist is a bit of a misstep, as the track feels a bit like more of a novelty, and while Deyres does a solid impression of Jim Morrison, he’s hamstrung a bit by the strobing effect present on his vocals throughout the entire song. In the end, I think I would have preferred for this to be a bonus track (I mean, I suppose I could simply delete it from my main playlist, but that somehow feels wrong). Still, it’s an intriguing idea that’s generally well-executed and really doesn’t bring the album down in my opinion.
And if at this point you hadn’t gathered, my opinion of this album is extremely high. I mentioned earlier that I view Gorod as the gold standard of technical death metal, and The Orb has done nothing but confirmed that opinion. In a style of music like tech-death, where there are literal hundreds of bands that are absurdly talented at performing intricate, elaborately layered songs, it takes something special to elevate yourself, and Gorod‘s songwriting abilities have always been the extra factor that helps them stand out. The Orb serves as a helpful reminder that Gorod have earned every bit of hype and deserve every bit of respect that they get.