Igorrr (aka Gautier Serre) is back with another mission to bend our minds and take extreme metal into unchartered waters. 2016’s excellent, Savage Sinusoid, earned him the strangest genre tag to date with the internet consensus settling on Baroquecore after his 2010 EP of the same name. For convenience sake, we’ll call the Frenchman’s efforts avant-garde metal.
The fourteen tracks on offer here are nothing short of extraordinary. ‘Downgrade Desert’ starts like an Egyptian belly-dance before a bass chug kicks in and female vocals wail like a concubine in an Abbasid Harem. It’s the type of composition Tom Gabrielle Fisher ought to include on the next Triptykon album. On ‘Nervous Waltz’ we’re transported from the Arabian Nights to the European Enlightenment where eighteenth-century courtiers mingle with bearded metalheads. Make no mistake this is as heavy as a man’s conscience after a stag do in Riga. It’s like somebody has remixed the Berliner Philharmoniker’s rendition of Beethoven’s Eroica and pasted a barrage of Meshuggah riffs on top. Yet somehow it works!
There is no let in up in experimentation throughout Spirituality and Distortion. ‘Very Noise’ is a marriage of Prodigy and Dillinger Escape Plan with a slab of industrial metal tagged on; ‘Parpaing’ features Cannibal Corpse’s George Fisher and merges Decapitated with Gameboy glitches instead of guitar solos; ‘Musette Maximum’ can’t decide if it’s Oriental or Occidental folk before taking you on a detour of Dying Fetus; and ‘Camel Dancefloor’ will have you dropping your shoulders and bouncing along like an Oompa Loompa. You ask the question: what the fuck is this?
Just when it cannot get any weirder, Gautier Serre undertakes his longest expedition with ‘Himalaya Massive Ritual’. This will call to mind Indian prog-metallers, Project Mishram, but the female operatics of Laure Le Prunenec chart new ground. Crunchy Gojira hooks compete with a kick drum like a road drill to concoct a sinister menace as chilling as The Omen soundtrack with sitar overdubs. It’s another WTF moment.
Without doubt, the main strength of Spirituality and Distortion is its ability to keep you enthralled. ‘Overweight Poesy’ is Melt Banana doing baroque music; ‘Paranoid Bulldozer Italiano’ offers some bass-heavy squelches with death growls; and ‘Polyphonic Rust’ is an anthem for Halloween. The only thing that’s predictable is the unpredictability. Nowhere will you find a verse-chorus composition or anything resembling an attempt at a conventional rock song.
Fans of the 1995 Mr Bungle classic, Disco Volante, will lap this up. It’s the type of opus we hope Devin Townsend will embrace on his next project. John Zorn should be arranging a collaboration as we speak. Anyone with an interest in extreme metal is dutybound to buy this masterpiece. Dissecting it through repeat listens is a challenge you must not shirk.
Release Date: 27/03/2020
Record Label: Metal Blade
Standout tracks: Nervous Waltz, Camel Dancefloor, Overweight Poesy
Suggested Further Listening: Naked City – The Torture Garden (1990), Mr Bungle – Disco Volante (1995), Arcturus – La Masquerade Infernale (1997)