Gorod – The Orb

*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #26 of the SBR Album of the Week.

Bordeaux tech death stalwarts, Gorod, have secured distribution deals via some of the biggest underground labels in metal since their debut LP in 2005. Willowtip, Candlelight Records, Unique Leader and Listenable Records have all released Gorod albums over the last eighteen years, but now the band are ready to issue their seventh effort on their own label (Base Productions). An independent record at this stage of an artist’s career often means the industry has fewer reasons to pay attention to them. But this could not be further from the truth for Gorod, who racked up an impressive 56,000 YouTube views for the title-track of their latest offering and 84,000 views for the first single premiered last year. Could Gorod be the tech death success story of 2023 and a hope to all aspiring groups in this genre?

Technical death metal is one of the most impenetrable sub-genres in the spectrum of heavy music, not least because the artists seldom value song writing or the ritual of memorable repetition in their compositions. Lyrics and vocal lines mean little to the creators until they nail down their virtuoso shred patterns and demonstrate their jazz fusion chops from the comfort of the drum stool. You’ll struggle to find a more solipsistic style of metal. Though Gorod have no inclination to scale back the exquisite musicianship or theoretical basis of their music, they prize intellectual themes and catchy hooks among their whirlwind approach to music. They care about your stamina.

Opener, ‘Chrematheism’, is a quirky lyrical diatribe against materialism as the definition of human happiness, full of imitative vocal and guitar lines. Yes, it’s faster than a Concorde jet and as mind-boggling as an Archspire tour rehearsal, but you can enjoy the maze of rotating rhythms and sharp staccato beats as if experiencing a Beethoven symphony. Master the audio storm as you would a shower of rain, and you’ll hear the black metal supremacy of Emperor among the dexterous guitar and drum embroidery.

Of course, Gorod waste no time in following track one with five minutes of maximum speed and neck-breaking intensity on ‘We Are the Sun Gods’, yet they avoid the discordant guitar puzzles that dominate the tech death genre. Instead, they concentrate on finding effulgent melodies among the berserk tempos. Vocalist, Julien Deyres, sweeps through the entire religion-versus-science controversy of the early modern European era in one stanza: “Remember the time of the heliocentrism rediscovery/ Hitherto absent from all Western culture since Antiquity/ The Spiritual Power then rejected this new theory/ Which would’ve called into question their dogma’s validity.” It sounds even better in a muscular growl over the top of finger-tapping rhythms.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of this record is its alacrity for all things prog. Eight songs of maximum-complexity played at maximum speed soon lose their potency. Gorod realise this as early as track three and treat the listener to a magnificent web of psychedelic metallic hallucinations in the title piece. Here, jazz drums and synthwave drones give way to clean guitar textures and vitriolic rock vocals before they accelerate the death metal elements in a memorable chorus. It’s the only composition that touches upon the spacious prog metal grooves of Gojira, yet you can hear the sophistication of Atheist and the rhythmic prowess of Psycroptic in the illuminous guitars.

Like English prog death merchants, Luna’s Call, the musical timbres on The Orb converge on yellow, orange, and burgundy rather than black and red. ‘Savitri’ references the Hindu goddess of the same name and finds sustenance in high-register triplet patterns and onomatopoeic vocal lines. You can thrash along to the frenetic guitars as you would a Bay Area thrash song. That’s because Gorod accentuate two things in their music – rhythmic brilliance and swooning melodies from the highest reaches of the fretboard. Coroner fans will rub their hands in delight. The entire Swedish and Finnish melodeath scene could learn something from ‘Victory’. Traditional rock solos have no place here, but Lydian phrasings abound. The velocity of the plectrum-picking in ‘Breeding Shame’ is sharper than a Sami knife, yet they insert a quote from Hegel (“Listen to the forest that grows, rather than the tree that falls”) as the centrepiece of the message. Of course, it’s pretentious – they’re French. Criticising Gorod for this is like taking umbrage with an Italian opera singer for being too dramatic.

You have every right to approach a tech death album with scepticism. What other concerns do the musicians have apart from showing off their abilities? Gorod’s mix of rapid guitar shapes and jazz basslines on ‘Waltz of Shades’ are almost too good to be true when the drummer enters with advanced grooves instead of blast beats. Yet you can remember the riffs after one listen. The poignancy of the lyrics demands your analysis. Colours emerge before you like slot machine squares in your eyes.

The Orb is not easy to understand, but Gorod are like the charismatic teacher who inspires you to do your homework. You should find it a chore, but it’s an enlightening experience.



Release Date: 10/03/2023

Record Label: Base Productions

Standout tracks: The Orb, Savitri, Waltz of Shades

Suggested Further Listening: Luna’s Call – Void (2020), Atheist – Jupiter (2022), Psycroptic – Divine Council (2022)