Gorod – Æthra
Reviewed: October, 2018
Released: 2018. Overpowered Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
French quintet Gorod seem to often get overlooked in the tech-death scheme of things, which is unfortunate, because they certainly deserve better. The Bordeaux-based quintet – which once went by the comically crass moniker Gorgasm – have been doling out incredibly dexterous, yet compelling metal mayhem for more than a decade.
Yet their name is usually well down the list when talk turns to tech-death titans – behind the likes of mainstays like Suffocation, Nile, Gorguts, Obscura, Necrophagist, Cryptopsy and Origin or newer comers like Beyond Creation or Archspire. Impressive company, to be sure, but Gorod can go toe to toe with any of them.
After making an out of character side trip into thrash on the just-for-fun EP Kiss The Freak in 2017 – which was done for a tour with Havok, Warbringer, and Exmortus – the band get back to their tech-death ways in earnest with their sixth full-length Æthra. Though hinting at slightly different approach with the title track and its more delicate amalgam of King Crimson-like prog and clean/spoken vocal passages amid the typically techy histrionics, Gorod go full-bore most of the way with the spider-walk guitar/crushing riffs back and forth, elastic rhythms and frontman Julien “Nutz” Deyres’s imposing vocals setting the tone at the outset with the one-two punch of “Wolfsmond” and “Bekhten’s Curse.”
More brutal and intense is “Inexorable” while the runaway “Hina” smacks of black metal with its light-speed tremolo. As usual, there is a theme to the album, though this one is perhaps a bit easier to grasp than some of the band’s more obtuse earlier works, dealing primarily with the moon. The challenge here is following along as the band stops, starts, sprints and leads you around in circles with the dizzying soundtrack.
There are some noticeably Gojira-like moments here, however, with the clean vocals and majestic sweeps on “And The Moon Turned Black,” “The Sentry” and “A Light Unseen.” And though they are fairly brief, added mostly for flavor, they do make for a nice breath-catching break before Gorod head off to the races again. If nothing else, they prove the band do have both a flair for melody – and the good sense to be strategic when using it.
There’s not really much to knock about Æthra, other than the clean vocals parts being a bit derivative. But that’s a pretty small nit to pic, especially since the vast majority of the album is well scripted and executed with the Gorod’s usual impeccable skill – whether people appreciate it or not.