Tech Death Thursday: Gorod – Aethra
Gorod has a new album out next week, and I’ve been itching to talk about it. Let’s get proggy!
- The Odious Construct are streaming their new EP, Shrine of the Obscene, right here. Give this a listen if you like your tech with tons of melody; these guys do it right. Shrine is out tomorrow on The Artisan Era.
- Revocation are on tour in North America right now, and they’ll be hitting Europe come November with support from Archspire, Soreption, and Rivers of Nihil. Head here for dates.
- Cryptopsy premiered a new song yesterday, and as you might expect, it goes hard as fuck. The Book of Suffering – Tome II is out on October 26th.
Gorod is a band that needs little introduction. They’ve been peddling their unique brand of jazz-infused tech death for 13 years now, evolving significantly with every new release. Each iteration is very distinct from the others, yet they all still feel like Gorod; be it the dark, heavy styling of Leading Vision, the mind-bending prog of A Perfect Absolution, or the frantic neurosis of A Maze of Recycled Creeds, their music always retains a very distinct personality. That omnipresent swagger has always distinguished them from their peers, and it’s a huge part of why they’re so enjoyable. So what about Aethra? Are they able to keep that feeling of progress going eight albums in?
In short, yes, but not in the way you might expect. Per guitarist/songwriter Mathieu Pascal, they only spent six weeks writing the album, focusing on creating “more spontaneous and song-oriented music with clear and efficient structures.” As such, the songs are much simpler in terms of structure than the typical Gorod fare; they’re certainly not verse-chorus levels of simplicity, but they’re much more conventional than the winding passages of the previous two albums. While this might be disappointing to fans of the band’s progressive side, the shift in focus has led the band to what is probably their most eclectic and catchy work yet.
This might just be owed to how off-the-wall the previous album felt, but Aethra feels much more reserved than its predecessors. It’s an overall mellowing of the sound that doesn’t sacrifice intensity or tension- just changes the atmosphere. Opener “Wolfsmond” illustrates this change with its dissonant, cyclical main theme and moody lead, and “Aethra” doubles down on it with an intro that sounds as if it was pulled straight out of Brent Hinds’ playbook. The latter also features some fantastic vocal work from Julien Deyres, showcasing his range of growls and some gripping singing in the chorus. The album closes on a similar note, “Inexorable” and “A Light Unseen” presenting more even-keeled takes on the band’s dissonant jazz and groovy sides, respectively.
There’s some classic Gorod present here as well, along with a couple totally new elements. “And the Moon Turned Black” is the most archetypal death metal track they’ve put out since Leading Vision, and “Goddess of Dirt” recalls the fury of Process of a New Decline. “Hina” opens and closes on some very Christian Münzner-sounding riffs, bookending a middle section with that familiar Gorod sass. My personal favorite from the album is “Bekhten’s Curse,” which builds off a simple (but pleasing) chord progression with one of the best lead hooks the band’s ever written and a monstrous main riff. It’s straightforward, yes, but it’s a phenomenal headbanger with some great melodies.
A common critique of the last album was that it sounded too flat, a complaint that the band seems to have taken to heart. They tracked Aethra on their own, but farmed it out to Daniel Bergstrand (Meshuggah, Behemoth) and Lawrence Mackrory (Decapitated, Nightrage) for mixing and mastering, respectively. While I don’t think it sounds quite as nice as, say, the upcoming Serocs album, it’s substantially more robust than Maze was.
Overall, I’m quite happy with what the band has done with this album. It’s a great mixture of new and old, and is certainly their most accessible album to date. I couldn’t fault anyone for missing the complex song structures of their previous work, but I feel the increased emphasis on hooks more than makes up for that. Aethra is another solid addition to a diverse catalog, and should be on every tech death fan’s radar. Aethra comes out on October 19th through Overpowered Records. You can follow Gorod on Facebook as well.
Is your band tech as heck? Got a juicy piece of news or an upcoming release to watch? Send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll check it out. I might even talk about it.