Colored Sands

After really thinking about what I wanted to say about this record, I began to question whether reviewing a release this high-profile truly mattered. Please let me know if you’ve never heard of Gorguts, and are just reading this review because you are interested in who they are and what they do. Contact me too if you hadn’t planned on checking out the album, and I convinced you otherwise. I’d be quite interested to hear about such a thing, as I suspect that anyone reading this is already well aware of the record and the legacy of the band.

It’s almost impossible to concisely compress the influence Gorguts has had on extreme music in general. Obscura’s complete evisceration of the confines of Death Metal went on to inspire countless current bands. Gigan completely owe their career to Luc & Co. Ulcerate, who are incredible and definitely have a voice of their own, still owe much of their influence to Gorguts, overt or not.

I will try not to go much into the rest of the history of the band’s breakup, reformation, and current all-star member lineup, but it is unavoidable to talk at least a bit about. Powerhouses Colin Marston and Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia handle the bass and second guitar duties respectively. Colored Sands is definitely Gorguts, but you can tell that Colin and Kevin have had their hand in the writing. Musically it is less technical for technicality’s sake than Dysrhythmia, and more angular and alien like you would expect from LeMay. It actually is strikingly exactly what you would think a mash up of these minds would create.

The production is great. Clear, crisp, and HEAVY. Shockingly so, even. It’s definitely modern, but still has that twangy off-kilter quality that wowed so many 15 years ago when Obscura threw Death Metal on its head. My ONLY qualm about the entire album is that having Colin Marston mix and master it, along with having a hand in the writing, gave it a bit too much of his voice. Marston is a genius in his own right, don’t get me wrong, I love much of his catalog, but maybe this record sounds a little TOO Colin? He definitely has a signature production technique that he applies to most of his work, and it all sounds a lot like this (see: Indricothere, Krallice, Dysrhythmia, et al.).

All of this talk, and still no words about drummer John Longstreth? If you haven’t heard of him somehow, he is, or was at one time, the powerhouse behind the kit of Dim Mak, Skinless, The Red Chord, and Origin, among others I’m sure I’m not mentioning. He is an unbelievable beast capable of out and out war on the skins. His methodical flair on Dim Mak records and incredible speed and power with Origin has made him a household Death Metal name, yet it’s not just either of those things that let him shine here. His restraint on the throne is what helps elevate his performance. He toils and thrashes along with the rest on Colored Sands, but never overpowers. His purpose here is to illuminate the bizarre twists and turns, hoist the curious dissonant melodies, and highlight the implausible technicality.

By this point you must have some idea of what you’re getting into with this album. A track by track breakdown is not forthcoming for brevity’s sake, but it’s impossible not to talk about at least a few of the brilliant moments on this record. The very first is the first riff of the first song “Let toit du monde,” a blistering piece of technical savagery that is both striking and memorable. It makes a reappearance in the song multiple times and I frequently catch myself humming it. Immediately after, a killer dynamic piece lets you know Gorguts is back. Track 3, “Forgotten Arrows,” is grotesquely gorgeous all the way through. Alien harmonics flutter and appear during the more subdued passages, while angular riffs attack and spasm around the dazzling technicality of it all. 3:40 into this song is where I first noticed the pure genius of the production. Unreal heaviness abounds here and illustrates the fact that Marston was a great choice for both bassist and engineer. The purely orchestral “The Battle of Chamdo” is exactly what I would imagine if someone told me Luc LeMay was writing a film score. Remarkable and hummable riffs overflow from the songs on this record. “Enemies of Compassion’s” opening riff is again another I find dancing in my head from time to time. The heaviness returns in the first minute of “Absconders,” and closer “Reduced to Silence” is creepy, extraterrestrial, dynamic, and concludes perfectly with crashing cymbals and all instruments being punished in sync.

I listened to Colored Sands a good 20 times before beginning to write this review, as I was hoping something profound would come over me like it must have when the world first collided with Obscura. But I don’t think we have Obscura II on our hands here. I just can’t imagine in 2013 something can invert the genre like Gorguts did before. That realization made listening even easier. As for all his brilliance, Luc must have known there were massive expectations for this album. So instead of trying to carve another path in the rotting corpse of Death Metal, he just sharpened his knife and continued disemboweling it. Colored Sands is dazzling, masterful, and everything I was hoping for. Though I was too immersed in the next Earth Crisis or Snapcase album to have felt the impact in 1998, I’m thankful I’m here in 2013 for the aftershock.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick E
August 26th, 2013


  1. Commented by: stiffy

    Nice review! Great album. It’s number one contender for sure.

  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Great review. Great cd.

  3. Commented by: Luke_22

    Still absorbing this one but it’s coming up the goods so far and I’m sure the full impact will set in once I spin it more. Great write-up!

  4. Commented by: Guilliame

    Excited, Excited, Excited…

  5. Commented by: Mecca

    Hey brilliant review, enjoyed the read. Definitely can’t do a track by track otherwise we’d be here for years haha. Feel free to check out our (Metal Music Blog) review linked below \m/


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