I can’t say any better about Gorod than Buke (who *claims* he’s not good with written words, but we can all see that’s modesty at the very least) already did in the interview that went up very recently: there’s a huge difference between “tech death” and “technical death metal”. Tech death does indeed imply wankery for its own sake (and this is coming from someone who is unabashedly a fan of wankery for its own sake), whereas technical death metal is grounded in the foundations of death metal. On The Orb, Gorod ponders the meaning of both, and how to effectively split the difference to double down on what makes them so great.
I truly had no idea that Gorod has been around for twenty-six years, but apparently they have a much larger and deeper tenure than I realized. I got into Gorod retroactively to their 2009 album Process of a New Decline, and I remember being immediately blown away by how freakishly technical the playing was. Well, time has been good to the members of the band, both the ones who have been there since day one as well as those they have picked up along the way, and The Orb sees the Bordeaux based quintet up the ante on their technical prowess, while also trying to push their sound forward and win over new fans with that thing that seems anathema to technical music: accessibility. “We wanted to go both a little further in new experiments, but also return back to our own sources in order to highlight the contrasts. From the most spontaneous to the most polished, we’ve put together the most accessible and extreme material we could.” Gorod has always been good at throwing a really heady groove in the midst of the million-notes-per-second shred sections, but on The Orb the band leans into the unlikely bedfellows of 70’s prog rock, funk and jazz to compliment their blistering technical riffing. The end result is something that is an extremely fine line to walk: technical death metal that doesn’t skip out on the “tech” while still being catchy and memorable instead of just a cacophony of noise.
The Orb opens with quite a bang, courtesy of the blistering “Chrematheism” and its fretboard annihilating attack. For a band that’s been around as long as Gorod and “only” made seven albums, it’s always nice to remind the people why you should be taken seriously, especially since the wait since 2018’s Æthra has been excruciating. Tracks like the aforementioned, “Victory” and “We Are the Sun Gods” bring the tech full force, with acrobatics, tapping, string skipping and all the requisite guitar jargon that makes me happy. Is it wankery for its own sake? Yeah, a little bit, but I don’t care. I was raised on guitar wankery, I will die on the hill that it’s fine to show off a little bit. Where The Orb really shines though, is in its ability to slow the pace down and find space to craft moments that are truly memorable. The solo section of “Savitri,” the opening riff of “Waltz of Shadows,” the electronics and jazzy drums in the title track, all of these moments stand out all the more because of the space they bring and the levity they add. It makes the moments where the pedal hits the floor all that more impactful because you’re not suffering from sensory overload when they hit (again, not a problem for me, but I can definitely empathize with those who get turned off by that stuff). These are some of the most accessible technical songs I’ve heard in a while. Check that one off the list, Gorod. You did it!
The Orb may just be the tech death (excuse me, technical death metal) album for people who do not enjoy tech death. Perhaps it won’t completely reverse your opinions, but give it a ponder. You may just be surprised by what you find inside, because what’s inside is damn good for a band with almost three decades under their belt.
The Orb will be available March 10 on Gorod’s Bandcamp page. For more information on Gorod, visit their Facebook page.