With their second full-length, The Haruspex, British Columbia’s Gomorrah unfortunately continue down the “core”-laden path they’d charted on their debut. Instead of a progression to fresh ideas the songwriting feels rehashed and repetitious. With the same ideas and sounds we’ve heard before, this album has a hard time holding the attention span for very long. It’s a well–produced yet mediocre deathcore effort that is sparse on highlights.
Let’s get this out of the way up front, the album cover is an eye catcher. Depicting an actual haruspex — a person from Roman times who would conduct a ritual called a “haruspicy” and inspect entrails for insight into coming events or omens. If this divination had been performed here the results may have been different. Over and over it feels like the band’s building up to a great idea, but then they step on the line and spastically lose it under the violently structured rhythmic patterns.
There are differences however, the biggest one is the clear production. Instead of burying half of the sound in mud, the album allows each instrument to sound crisp and strong. Which, unfortunately, means that all of the monotonous breakdowns and over-used pinch harmonics come through that much clearer. Unfortunately this happens a lot; at least two-thirds of the album sounds this way and frankly, it gets old quickly.
On the other side of the coin, there are glimpses of better things. The album’s at its most coherent when the band either leads up to or bridges the ‘core’ sound. At certain moments of “Cerulean” or “Venom and Rapture,” the band convincingly channels Gojira and it makes you think that, just maybe, they’re onto something. But outside of those fleeting moments, these tracks wind up sounding the same as the rest, and when taken as a whole it’s just too much to really remember, much less enjoy.
At another point — earlier, on “Carcosa,” — the band rips through nearly three minutes of Hate Eternal-like death metal. In addition, they pull out a surprise with a couple of tight knit melodic sections that finally shows some promise. The focus here is strictly honed on heavy death metal and the breakdowns are held to an absolute minimum, making it the album’s highlight by some distance. Had they capitalized on this particular sound and carried it through, the album would have been much better for it.
The Haruspex is an album full of missed opportunities for Gomorrah. It may get the blood pumping in early listens, but will more than likely end up in the “used” bin. The haruspicy’s been performed, and turns out this was indeed a bad omen.