Cult of Luna
Voivod: Part 2
Voivod: Part 1
Dillinger Escape Plan
The Year In Metal
Dead to Fall
Tapping The Vein
High On Fire
Metal Meltdown IV
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2002
Century Media Records
My Dying Bride
The Year In Metal
Metal Blade Records
Maudlin of the Well
Thrash of the Titans
Dust To Dust
Six Feet Under
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2001
Metal Meltdown III
Pain of Salvation
Children Of Bodom
Cradle Of Filth
Lamb Of God
Garden of Shadows
March Metal Meltdown
Metal/Hardcore Fest 2000
Flotsam and Jetsam
As of late, trying to find the right words to describe the music of Quebec's Gorguts has been nearly impossible. But with the band's new album 'From Wisdom To Hate' (on Olympic Recordings) I might just have to invest in getting an updated thesaurus to help me get my thoughts down on paper.
The band's music has grown ten-fold from their early death metal days of 1990's 'Considered Dead' or 1993's 'The Erosion of Sanity', thanks in part to the heap of complexity and technicality that overflowed from 1998's brilliant 'Obscura'. The record was a wakeup call of sorts to the band, because as vocalist / guitarist Luc Lemay remarks during our chat, things "were getting too boring and cliché sounding within our music. We needed to change things up."
And indeed they did. Despite 'Obscura' having received critical praise, Lemay notes that not everyone got it. But the band toured extensively in Europe and North America as they crusaded onward with their masterful metal sound. After a few years in hiatus, as Lemay will explain, a newly charged and reconfigured Gorguts emerges with yet another groundbreaking disc, 'From Wisdom To Hate'. Lemay explains the process and wisdom used to create such a work.
"All of our records are different, all of our records are never the same. That has always been the way," starts Lemay when told that the vibe of the new disc is different from past outings, including 'Obscura'. "When you make a record, you just write how things feel and what you think needs to be researched. You create the music as it comes to you. The first song I wrote was "Inverted", which is the first song on the record. It has the 'Obscura' feel to it, a real scratchy riff that will make the connection between this and the last record, but as an overall feel of the new record, the songwriting process for this disc is much different. I wanted to get back to a more polished and clear sound for Gorguts. I wanted clear guitar riffing, as opposed to the scratchy and noisy guitar playing on 'Obscura' that was very organized. It was controlled noise.
"On this disc," he adds, "it is a more conventional approach of the guitar, but with noises here and there. It is like 'Obscura', but a bit more cleaned up. We kept up with what we liked from the past record and moved on. Steeve Hurdle (who has since left the band) was a big part of the sound for that record and with him not in the band anymore, I was free to do what I want."
The new disc offers up a lot of great song styles and sounds for fans to digest. This record is not just for die-hard Gorguts fans. This is a metal record for every fan of metal music. Lemay couldn't agree more.
"This isn't a musician album like 'Obscura' was," he explains. "Because from a fan's point of view that last record was a little too much for fans. They either liked it or hated it. With this record we should be able to get back those that were skeptical with what we did last outing."
"'Obscura' was done like that because we (the rest of Gorguts is rounded out by guitarist Daniel Mongrain, bassist Steve Cloutier and drummer Steve MacDonald) wanted to rid ourselves of clichés and what have you in metal music. We didn't need to have the traditional fast drumming and quick picking of riffs in the music. We were very curious of our instruments and wanted to explore a bit more with what we could do as a band. We just wanted new sounds to come from Gorguts. There is so much that you can do with your guitars other than just making it play loud and do fast picking with it."
"We were always going to make a record like 'Obscura'," he notes. "Dude, that record had been written since 1994, but 'Obscura' didn't come out till 1998. It was still ahead of what was going on. Imagine if it came out in 1994? People would have been freaking, I think," he laughs. "We weren't able to get signed either. When the last record you put out was Erosion of Sanity and then this record. . . it scared people."
On the topic of the new disc, he says firmly, "This record, while like 'Obscura', is farther away from it than you may think. I am big into melody and this new record is full of melodies and harmonies within the guitar playing. The drums are also much faster and my vocals on this record are the steadiest they have ever been. It is my best work."
Lemay thinks this record definitely makes its mark in a day and age when death metal is back in the spotlight and making progress. He's looking forward to the reaction the new album will get from the band's followers.
"I think the fans will really like what we have done here with 'From Wisdom To Hate'. I think they'll be pleased. Every time we make a record I always feel it is our best work up to that point in our career, and I feel that same way with this disc. The songs are well written structure-wise and the song architecture is carefully crafted. Both Daniel and I study classical music, so it was as if we were studying one of Mozart's sonatas. Structure is a very important part of the song; even if you have a killer riff, if it is in a bad environment the song is going to suck and not go anywhere."
Structured Gorguts? You heard correct, but Lemay finds the chaotic side of the band always seems to work its way into the fold as the music goes on. The best of both worlds, I assume?
"There is a lot going on. It is busy and it is clear, but it stays transparent. You have all of these voices and things going on, but you can always have a main focus to listen to. If you just listen to the guitars, even with all the other mess going on, you can hear just how the guitars are played. It isn't flattened together as one whole piece of music as you'll hear sometimes. It is as if it was a choir, where all of the voices are moving at the same time and with different sounds, but there is a main focus which is the result itself."
Expanding on his role as a songwriter and musician, Lemay reveals, "Before 'Obscura' came out, I went back to school for a year and studied the violin. After that I took four years of composition in school. When you go back to writing a song after all of that studying and learning about music, you don't go back to writing like you did when you were 17 or 18. It's not that you are writing by the books, but you are more familiar with the architecture of music and its speech. Music is really just a bunch of words, a riff being a word in a long sentence that will eventually make sense. Going back to school really opens you up to just how music comes to take shape."
A week prior to setting up the interview, Lemay phoned and talked briefly about the new record and the concept it follows. I ask him to explain in more detail about the ideas and storyline of 'From Wisdom To Hate'.
He begins, "To choose a word to describe the whole album, I would choose antiquity. That is just a start, but it is a good word as two of the songs on this disc deal with the Middle Ages epoch. But all of the other songs are related to the discovery of Mesopotamia and the cultures that made up the cradle of civilization. Where all of the knowledge of mathematics, science and architecture came from. There is a lot to say about it all and it really was a lot of hard work to make sure we got it right. In the layout for the record you'll see I took time to write a prologue to each song so people would know what it was about."
Listening to Lemay talk about the concepts and ideas of 'From Wisdom To Hate', I can't help but wonder aloud about how amazing it is that metal music has always been about showcasing creative ideas. In the past many bands have used history and culture to pen memorable numbers, with Iron Maiden and the early days of Metallica providing good examples of this.
"That is what I like about metal music," he juts in. "You can literally sing about anything, be it reality, fantasy or history. Metal is a great door for poetry and it is a great way to explore common ideas and add a darker element to it."
Because his band has been around for more than a decade and survived the changing ways of the metal scene in North America, I ask Lemay how the metal scene has changed and how he views it nowadays.
"Music has changed quite a bit, but it always does as the years go on. Listen to death metal music from the '80s and into the '90s. Very different, right? You'd never hear a death metal band like Suffocation back in the '80s. But as time goes on, people explored and I am glad that death metal has come this far and that people are still working with it. But saying that, I also think that this type of music and the scene it has created needs to be cleaned up as well. There are just some bands that don't need to be part of the scene."
Speaking of music scenes, Gorguts is part of a hotbed of metal activity, being part of the Quebec metal scene that has spawned such great acts as Cryptopsy, Obliveon and Kataklysm. The scene is still growing too, and Lemay is happy about that.
"I am proud that Quebec has spawned this cradle of death metal music that has become known internationally. It is a great feeling to be a part of it. I am very proud of this accomplishment. I think there is a big fellowship and brotherhood between bands here in Montreal and throughout Quebec, and many of the musicians have grown into talented players. In the U.S. when trends start, everyone is going to go out and form bands to go after that trend. In Quebec, each band has its own sound and that really helps us make our own mark."
About plans for 2001, Lemay ends, "I hope that this is a very big Gorguts kind of year. I want to just go out and play my heart out and let people experience the Gorguts phenomenon. This is a great record and I think this is the record that'll be very groundbreaking for us and get us the exposure we deserve (laughs). At least that is what I hope."
review of Gorguts 'From Wisdom To Hate'
Interview: Adrian 'The Energizer' Bromley [
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