WHO: One of the very finest examples of a band that pushed the limits of an already provocative genre, Gorguts. Starting from high expectations with their debut, they proceeded down the path that would ultimately lead them to this work of art. Unfortunately, Roadrunner Records saw fit to drop the band after not garnering the necessary attention due to the second wave of Black Metal kicking into full gear. This would prove to be a grave mistake.
WHEN: After a five year hiatus that some presumed to be the death of Gorguts, resilient frontman Luc Lemay returned in 1998 with a brand new lineup to shake metal music itself to the very core.
WHERE: After recording the album in Studio Victor, Montreal the disc was distributed by Olympic Records. Thankfully, the impact was felt beyond the regional scene of Canadian Death Metal, which had already given the metal world other classic bands like Cryptopsy.
WHY IT’S A CLASSIC: Simply put, this is an album that will obliterate the foundation of your love for metal only to replace it with something demented in a way that your worst nightmares could never capture. Forget everything you know about technicality, musicianship and the avant garde when listening to Obscura, because chances are you’ve never heard it like this, nor will you ever hear it like this again. Luc Lemay’s genius can only be appreciated with a willingness to embrace sheer madness. The compositions included on Obscura find new ways to challenge the listener every ten seconds let alone on every new track. Take ‘Nostalgia’ for instance; it starts off with a very ominous guitar tone that segways perfectly into Luc Lemay’s tortured vocals. The drum work of Patrick Robert is chaotic and yet extremely methodical, as are the bass lines of Steve Cloutier. At around 1:05, reality itself becomes disparate and fleeting and around 3:00 it is no longer quantifiable. Your mind, if not entirely shattered will be prepared to declare Lemay as your new god. There is no one else living or dead that I feel comfortable calling the György Ligeti of metal. That is not a statement one can make lightly, but it’s one of the most apt descriptions available for this album and his work.
HOW: Apart from being Ligeti’s metal protege, I’m convinced that Lemay is also a high priest of Cthulu. Indeed, the album itself can accurately be described as the musical representation of Lovecraft’s writings on madness. When I first discovered this album, I was horrified. I had never heard anything this surreal and distressing since becoming a metalhead and I’m convinced that I never will again. Although ‘Erosion Of Sanity’ and ‘From Wisdom To Hate’ are both masterpieces, Obscura is within the top five most mind bending, complex and schizophrenic records in all of metal, let alone death metal. It has as much to do with Ornette Coleman’s ‘The Shape Of Jazz To Come’ as it does any death metal predecessor. It’s dissonance is unparalleled to this day and it will always hold a place among the greatest musical compositions of all time. If you do not own this album or have never heard of Gorguts, stop reading this right now and purchase a copy any way you can. Sell your soul if you must, because this album is worth at least a thousand souls.
You can find information and merchandise about and from Gorguts at http://www.gorguts.com/home