Tech Death Thursday: Gigan
Today we’re kneeling before our cybernetic cosmic monster overlords from the M Space Hunter Nebula, Gigan, and submitting to the unrelenting extraterrestrial violence of Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence. It’s Tech Death Thursday!
But first, news from the wide world of Tech, courtesy of St. Spear (who has graciously allowed me to temporarily wrest control of his column whilst under the command of action signal tapes played by gigantic cockroaches).
- Farting bass tech death (and I mean that in the best possible way) band Sutrah dropped a fat-bottomed track over at Invisible Oranges.
- Want a finger workout? Try to follow along to this new Enfold Darkness playthrough.
- Big bouncy riff boys and girls in Coma Cluster Void just teased something new. I hope it’s an aggressive flute album.
- Origin are getting freaky in this new video. You should too.
And now for the main event, the horrifying buzz-saw carnage of Gigan!
Gigan has always been something of an outlier in the tech death genre. Eschewing the terran-born conventionality of terrestrial tech death, the trio has followed a path of parabolic weirdness across their three full lengths thus far. While The Order of the False Eye saw the band dabble in more conventional tech death techniques – harmonic scaled runs, long passages of blast beats, and peripheral growls – the next two records, Multi-Dimensional Fractal-Sorcery and Super Science and Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes tossed out most of the mores of the genre in favor of getting real weird with it. Those albums found the band introducing more syncopation, more high-register squeals, more confounding riffs, and more breakneck rhythmic changes, all cranked to 11.
You’d think all that would have prepared me for the quantum brain implosion that is Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence, but you’d be mistaken. All those little intricacies, those atonal solos, those contrapuntal rhythmic passages, those string bends, were cranked to 11-er on this new record. For months I’ve tried to grapple with how to talk about this album, typically failing to get further than, “What the wtf was that? This is nuts.”
Simply put, Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence is a baffling album, a wholly unique entity in the tech death cosmos. To quantify just how offbeat this record is, let’s dissect the lead single off the album “Plume of Ink Within a Vacuum.” The track opens amid a suffocating din of hurried drum fills and juxtaposed ascending and descending scales, creating a dizzying, disorienting atmosphere before a subtle change in the drum pattern rams listeners headlong into a wall of brutal death metal riffs. Before those riffs can pummel you too badly, the song transitions into an elastic series of riffs and and blasts before morphing yet again. The song continues to spasm and wrench, those riffs stretching and condensing with reckless abandon, gaining and sloughing density as the band weaves in dropped chords or starts scraping the heavens. After a handful of dangerous convulsions, the whole track comes to a juddering lurch around the 2:30 mark, the song suddenly collapsing atop itself in a heap of high-register, discordant squeals. Eventually, the elastic riffs return and lead us back to the cascading intro waves after a brief excursion into an almost noteless solo, the parabola reaching its second root.
I wouldn’t fault you, dear readers, for parsing through that description and concluding that Gigan’s style is a colossal, masturbatory flight of fancy. The truth couldn’t be farther from that, though. “Plume of Ink Within a Vacuum” follows a clear structure, with an introductory effect that returns in the coda, a series of riffs that move in and out of the bridge, and a distinct solo. It’s a fairly conventional song structure, but the devil is in those devilish little details, those scrapes and squeals and abysmal growls, those odd notes and strange phrases, those fuzzy textures and odd tone. Gigan rejects convention even when dabbling in typical forms, and that act itself is in many ways a rejection of the aimless note marathons often heard in tech death.
This same trend can be heard throughout Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence. Each song is itself a distinct a microcosm, a universe unto itself full of odd, Luc Lemay-style string bends (as heard in “Hyperjump-Ritual Madness”), roaring, black hole bass work (see “Clockwork with Thunderous Hooves”), and swarming, needling waves of noise (as in the album opener, the marathon 10-minute track “Wade Forward Through Matter and Backwards Through Time.”) Each track is tight, compact, succinct, featuring different little unpredictable permutations and deviations from the norm, each a unique system in an expansive, black void of chaos.
Confoundingly, Gigan stands alone both in their willingness to rein in tech death excess and to indulge it in inexplicable ways.
The album itself is a harrowing listen, but one that demands your attention and compels repeat spins, if only to grapple with what the hell you just heard. The production is surprisingly murky for a tech death album, trading the loud, gated, sterile aesthetic of much of modern tech death for a quieter, soupier tone within which riffs can dive and rear like tentacles protruding from a black, starless sea. Bookending the record with the two longest tracks also tests your endurance but ensures a rewarding listen from start to finish.
Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence is punishing and confusing, but not for the reasons these pejoratives are often cast at the genre. It’s punishing in the manner in which all three musicians in the band abuse their instruments and push them to the far reaches of what you hear in metal. It’s confusing in its ability to present familiar faces in such hideous lights. Ultimately, it’s an amazing listen that will delight fans of tech death seeking the latest thrill and supplicants of metal in general looking for both masterful craftsmanship and excellent songwriting.
This is one of the most compelling tech death releases you’ll hear all year.
You can catch Gigan at one of the tour dates above. Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence drops tomorrow, 9/15, via Willowtip Records. Get it here and check out the band here. You can also stream the album in full here. Until next time,
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