Gorguts — From Wisdom To Hate (2001)

22.04.2001  :: АрхивАрхив рецензий Автор: Chris Alfano

Thinking back on 1998’s Obscura, one is hard-pressed to propose a valid comparison to its aura of technically-jarring discord and unbalanced song structures. To most fans, there was no middle ground; the album was either a masterpiece, or a jumbled mess. As a proponent of the former opinion, I often find myself in the minority when discussing its relevance among my peers. But like it ot not, Obscura proved that Gorguts had come a long way since their 1990 debut, Considered Dead.

While much of the press for Considered Dead seemed intent on pointing out parallels to Suffocation, the band forged on undeterred to release 1993’s The Erosion of Sanity. Gorguts began to define themselves more precisely on this one, and the technical side of their repertoire was becoming more apparent. My own expectations for the band’s third effort rose proportionally, but in hindsight, nothing could have prepared me for what I heard. Obscura didn’t bridge the gap left in EoS’s wake; rather, it leapt over the entire chasm and landed somewhere on the other side. It was entropy defined. The living breath of chaos itself. A musical personification of mental disarray.

Three long years later, I am spinning From Wisdom to Hate for the umpteenth time, trying to think of how I can best describe Gorguts’ progression from 1998 to present. Instead of trying to define the undefinable, I think my best approach is to take this one track by track. The festivities begin with «Inverted», a song that immediately hits the listener with some quick, discordant riffing, courtesy of founding member Luc Lemay and a new prospect named Daniel Mongrain. After Lemaire spits out a few speedy (but well-phrased) verses about fools who forgo wisdom for the «appetites of the soul», the guitars (accompanied by an awesome snare work-out from drummer Steve MacDonald) give way to a more mid-paced, dirge-like atmosphere. This track could easily have been from the Obscura sessions, save for the general rhythmic scheme, which is relatively even and poised.

Next up is a stab at organized religion called «Behave Through Mythos». Given the band’s reputation for faster tempos, this song is unusually sluggish. But as one might expect, the resulting heaviness is turned up a notch, and it works well. The vocal phrasing on this track is again well-executed, making «Behave Through Mythos» one of Gorguts’ strongest tracks ever. A slower pace is also apparent on the title track, which pushes the heaviness even further. Mongrain contributes a twisted solo here with multiple vibrato dives, making it obvious that Lemay’s decision to recruit him was a sound one. While Mongrain’s playing isn’t quite as frantic as that of departed guitarist Steev Hurdle, his input proves to be a vital part of the picture.

Just when it seems that the heaviness has been maximized, the listener gets clobbered again on «The Quest For Equilibrium», which trudges along with the pace (and power) of a hot-wired steamroller. This track reminds me of the song «Clouded» from Obscura, which was the first indication that Gorguts might expand on the sludge-factor. «The Quest for Equilibrium» oozes a wall of liquid cement that is only penetrated when Mongrain fires off a piercing, wah-drenched solo.

In an apparent effort to cover all bases, the listener is next presented with two mid-paced tracks, «Unearthing The Past», and «Elusive Treasures». These tune plow along nicely, with enough quirks to keep things interesting. The solo on «Unearthing…» is a swift, oddly melodic excursion which continues the Gorguts tradition of commiting aural homicide with a touch of class. Both of these songs contain lyrics which harken back to an archaic age of warrior kings and their respective empires. While the English translation is a little rough in spots, the spirit is comes across effectively, adding an intense aura to the musical onslaught.

«Das Martyrium Des…» starts of slowly with a simple chord progression, then morphs into a hyper-speed ode to higher consciousness. It is here that the band begins to restore a balance of sorts, which is carried on in the majestic closer, «Testimonial Ruins». The main riff on this one is based on a minor-key chord sequence, which is disturbingly catchy. It is not often that one would consider such a riff to be infectious, but somehow, it sticks in the mind for hours after the disc has ended.

Despite my shameless adoration, I can’t help but wonder if From Wisdom To Hate would have been more effective had it been released earlier in the bands’ career. While it is very different from the first two albums, it would have better prepared fans for the technical fire storm of Obscura. But I’m no «Monday morning quarterback», and in light of the many hours I have already spend transfixed their two most recent efforts, I am not one to criticize Gorguts for the slightly questionable sequence of their discography.

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