My review of Gorguts’ latest EP Pleiades Dust began with a caution about the terrifying dangers of space travel as an allegory for the band’s fearless exploration of new musical territory. Ever since 1995’s Obscura, the technical death metal outfit from Sherbrooke, QC have continuously expanded the genre’s boundaries, influencing and inspiring countless acts along the way. One may assume that a band so focused on mapping death metal’s outer regions might be a bit disconnected from the public, more at home locked in a studio conjuring up new uses for 7/4 timing, than mingling with the normies. But as I made my way into the beautiful Théâtre Fairmount in Montreal’s Mile-End district, there was Gorguts’ founding father, lead singer and guitarist, Luc Lemay, behind the merch table, gregariously conversing with fans like some sort of friendly death metal wizard, or the world’s coolest uncle.
Anyway, more on that later – the rest of the bill was stacked with an impressive line up of prodigious shredders, and kicking off the evening was Montreal trio Teramobil. The group’s blend of jazzy, progressive technicality and meaty, infectious grooves weaved between discordant attack and spacey psychedelia, with Dominic “Forest” Lapointe’s (Ex-Beyond Creation) superb bass playing driving the melodies. Despite the high degree of musical difficulty, the members of Teramobil appeared to be relaxed and having fun. Guitarist Mathieu Bérubé even busted a few mid-set dance moves!
Because of this website, I am privileged to be able to attend a lot of concerts every year and, as such, I have been exposed to a lot of music. Just when I think I’ve seen and heard it all, a band like Brain Tentacles rises out of the cosmic ether waving the goddamn freak flag. The three-piece features Municipal Waste‘s Dave Witte on drums, Aaron Dallison on bass and vocals, and Bruce Lamont on the Motherfucking Baritone Saxophone. The music was both heavy and technical, but felt far more akin to avant-garde, improvisational jazz than anything in the prog- or tech-death sphere. The songs were frenetic and jarring, but never so much as to break the underlying rock and roll drive. Dallison’s forceful growls fit perfectly with the rumble of Lamont’s effects-laden sax playing. It is difficult to find the right words to accurately describe Brain Tentacles’ truly excellent bizarreness. After witnessing this set, I now cannot think of a single thing in existence that would not be greatly improved by the addition of effects-laden sax playing.
Up next were L.A. post-proggers Intronaut. In contrast to Brain Tentacles’ frenzied cacophony, Intronaut’s brand of progressive post metal was introspective and atmospheric. The songs, many of which were from Intronaut’s latest LP Habitual Levitations, take their time to develop instead of a series of jarring double-takes, allowing the musicians to explore and expand on the nuance and subtlety of the riffs. I was also quite impressed with the band’s use of dynamic range. All of the transitions between the heavier riffs and the cleaner, proggy sections felt natural and in service to the song, even with the vocals. Guitarists Sacha Dunable and Dave Timnick delivered low-end growl and excellent clean vocal harmonies in equal measure (I point this out because is incredibly rare for me to like clean vocals of any kind in heavy music). A genuinely solid performance from start to finish that left me wanting more.
As my first and only experience watching Gorguts perform was at an outdoor stage during the 2014 edition of Maryland Deathfest, I was very much looking forward to seeing the band in an indoor setting with a proper sound system. The band wasted little time on stage before launching into “Le Toit Du Monde,” the opening track from Gorguts’ last full length album Colored Sands. The song’s discordant, sorrowful heaviness was amplified by a nearly oppressive level of musical density. Guitarist Kevin Hufnagel and bassist Colin Marston, members of instrumental prog metal band Dysrhythmia who both joined Gorguts in 2009, are true masters of their respective instruments. Their playing provides Gorguts’ seemingly impenetrable compositions with astonishing clarity. The band played a few more numbers from Sands before flooring the already enraptured audience by playing “Pleiades Dust,” the single, 33-minute track from the eponymous EP. The band’s intricate playing and Lemay’s powerful roar showed no signs of wavering through what must have been a physically demanding performance that lasted well over an hour.
During our brief conversation before the show (which began with me gushing about Pleiades Dust), Lemay mentioned that they wanted to treat the night as the EP’s release show for the hometown fans. After seeing the passion and energy Gorguts put into their marathon set, his words- at least to me – took on special meaning. No matter how far into space Gorguts travel, the band will always relish the opportunity to return their favourite part of planet earth.
Written by Jesse Gainer
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson