SummaryChimera from another dimension
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Gorguts return after the natural disaster that was ‘Obscura’. As if that album hadn’t already created enough cosmic damage to our solar system, they’re back with an album arguably more destructive and terrifying yet. Where the previous was glorious deconstructivist anarchy of the more prolific kind, ‘From Wisdom to Hate’ showcases a more mature composure in the ability to craft more succinct tracks while not sacrificing any of the music’s characteristic chaotic integrity. This is full-on Gorguts beyond the shadow of a doubt, yet with more impetus towards concision and impactful song-writing rather than a display of the band’s profuse creativity. In comparison, ‘Obscura’ was a full hour in length over 12 tracks whereas this one is a more digestible 40min laid out over a compact 8 track format, with peaks of 9min plus on the previous versus 6-7min here.
The record starts off with a riff on par with Obscura’s title-track opener, utterly counter-intuitive musically and incomprehensible for the unprepared listener. The tracks are commanding and ripe with fluid intensity, completely accepting of their iconoclastic nature and rebellion against all music. There’s a feeling throughout the record the material on a fundamental level means to be inverted (to use the band’s own terminology) and it feels eminently “asymmetrical” if one could look at it through a sort of geometrical scope; like the riffs are shaped unevenly and refuse the natural character of reasonable coherence conceptually. The music bears a grim vehemence heavy with grief and existential anguish, like the scenery of an inexplicable cataclysm taking form with each level of development more shocking and unfathomable than the previous. The music philosophically seems to be of the dead rather than of the living, as if it came from the other side and wasn’t of this world, every riff a grueling emanation of agony. It depicts a negativity so explicit and irrevocable it sounds like the flights of fantasy or daydreams of a creature unknown to man and far removed from society.
The outro to ‘Behave Through Mythos’ in particular is close to flat out creepy or even frightening with how vivid and profound the complete despondency it describes feels organically. It is one of the best examples to date of what complete resignation from life could sound like if translated into musical composition (also see the outro to ‘Elusive Treasures’, very similar in style). After the fading decay of the closing moment vanishes into the distance, the album moves to the title-track and its 3/4 lugubrious waltz, a trademark of the band’s like a ghastly dance of the dead. A few seconds pass before Lemay exclaims this most terrible phrase “From wisdom to hate”, over a chorus among the most nonsensical sections the band had written to date; a sort of brilliant compositional patchwork with too many motifs and arrangements occurring all in one part to describe briefly here.
Up next Lemay and friends opt to include a full orchestral instrumental piece on the intro to ‘The Quest for Equilibrium’ (the longest track on this), like some contemporary classical composer accidentally wrote a hymn to the end of days during a bad trip. The ensuing groove is majestic in its cynical malevolence and the band don’t seem like they’re even attempting to tone down the anxiety-inducing feeling of impending doom. More gargantuan guitar chugs and bass grinding, more bleak dissonance, more maniacal soloing, more seething hatred – it never stops. And this album couldn’t even so much be considered “nightmarish”, as the threat instilled in the music is too vivid and startlingly real, and rather subjects the listener to the punishment of acknowledging its terrible reality.
Overall every track manages to contain at least one (usually more than one) immediately recognizable part; all the way to the excellent album closer and atmospheric instrumental ‘Testimonial Ruins’; despite the ongoing freak show of musical depravity. In truth, one could’ve even gone as far as making the argument the music on this album is essentially satirizing the very principle of music as it’s effectively turning every possible aspect upside down, almost like it’s making a farce out of music as a concept, a sort of concerted effort in making a parody of music; if not for the fact the tracks are so poignant they can only come from a place of sincerity.
Hey, you. Looking for avant-garde musical chaos? Deep, powerful chaos conjuring profound imagery that’s actually brilliantly written and memorable and not just a fun first listen? Look no further. One of the rare truly masterful metal albums.
Release date: March 6th, 2001
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