This French technical death metal project stole my heart years ago with the excellent Neurotripsicks (been there a few times), and have been in my rotation ever since, establishing themselves deeper and deeper into my tech death database. Not only is A Perfect Absolution a sweet album, it’s one of the finest French tech experiences ever wrought, standing tall in my rotation this year alongside the excellent new album from their countrymen Outcast. I was slightly surprised to see that it’s their shortest work to date, clocking in at a hair under 40 minutes, but once you give this a spin, you’ll know immediately it doesn’t lack for content. Indeed, hibernating within that fiery artwork is an immense showcase of skill, biding its time till it can explode out of your speakers and tear your mouth agape in wonderment.
It must be stated that yes, this is very twiddly, overtly techy stuff, and if that irritates you, it might be best you look elsewhere. However, this is far from derivative, as Gorod reshape that innocuous shell and inject much more substance that your average ‘tech-for-tech’s-sake’ ADD architects, writing some songs that have a very real flow about them. That’s coming from an unabashed fanatic of wanking tech music, though, so take that for what it’s worth. There’s a new guitarist here, who’s inhuman enough to fit right in, as well as a new vocalist, another purveyor of the grunty growl, acting as another percussive instrument in the circus of amazing rhythms barely contained within.
Opener Birds of Sulphur trades off mathematical rhythmic gymnastics and a vast array of jaw/pants dropping leads, letting you know in no uncertain terms that you’re about to get your mind blown, every instrument a consistently flourishing showcase of talent and creativity. Make no mistake, there are riffs here, tons of them, and even the chorus is a fist-pumping, memorable affair. Many of the tracks follow this formula, flexing their muscles with a ridiculous variety of progressions, circling around a couple of central lines. It’s truly a maddening expedition, and one that fans of this kind of epileptic insanity with adore… not so much the old school elite, though, as I wouldn’t really call this dark or menacing. On the contrary, A Perfect Absolution is pretty uplifting at times, sawing its way up toward the skyline and painting it with the brilliant colors of its vibrant notation.
It probably goes without saying that these musicians are absolutely nuts, every one of them. As a drummer, I was often left speechless by the impeccable skills of Samuel Santiago, as you will be by any of these guys if you practice music. The guitars of Mathiu Pascal and Nicolas Alberny swirl and gyrate around each other in astonishing ways, and the warm pulse of Benoit Claus’s bass is perfect, as he both stays in rhythm with the drums and crafts his own unique, curving lines. They integrate some odd elements sometimes to mix things up (the funky circus midsection of Carved In the Wind, the atmospheric bludgeoning of 5000 At the Funeral, the island-breeze eclecticism of Varangian Paradise, the clean, almost Machine Head-like chorus in The Axe of God, and a whole smorgasbord of interesting and varied solos), but mainly they’ll be grooving along to one riff or another at a pretty feverish pace, with the lead guitar constantly needling out a wild array of notes. It’s all pretty similar on the surface, and tends to blend together if you’re not paying close attention (a common tech death trait), but if you have the ear for the style, there’s actually a lot of variety, if that makes sense.
It can admittedly be difficult to recall a great many sections from A Perfect Absolution, a tribute to its density rather than a condemnation of content, but the prevalent shifting of its acrobatic momentum will give detractors of the style all they need to write this off, I’m afraid. However, if you’re into monumental displays of skill set to a progressive death metal aesthetic, you’re going to want to spin this again and again, as I’ve been doing since its release. It doesn’t have the most innate memorability or emotional depth, but it’s an amazing exhibition, and one that does it’s damnedest to write interesting song structures and varied passages, rather than being relegated to the status of ‘tech demo’, a la Brain Drill. What truly matters with an album like this, though, is how interesting it is to go through, and how amazed you are by it that you keep repeating the experience, and for that, it’s a resounding success. I may enjoy them slightly less than I do the more prominent Obscura, The Faceless, or Spawn of Possession, but they’re still among the elite, and A Perfect Absolution is an unmitigated thrill-ride. I’d love to hear Gorod’s attempt at a truly progressive album, as I felt the most captivating moments were the more surprising, outside the box elements, but as it stands I’m more than satisfied with this.