Sound — 9
Technical death metal French men Gorod return to the studio after a three year gap to bring us album number six, "A Maze of Recycled Creeds."
Sprouting up around the time Necrophagist were completely revamping the technical death metal genre, Gorod have always had this specific niche: they blend the neo-classical, diminished sounding and precision riffing that's a staple in tech death and then... add in some jazz chords, blinding melodic passages and a bit of quirky fun on the side.
Although not quite as well-known as contemporaries, Gorod have always evolved in some way each release. The shift from "A Perfect Absolution" is subtle but in certain riff details from riff styles to the way melody is presented, you get a different feeling album, one that feels a bit more grounded and slightly less goofy (I mean, I love "Varangian Paradise" but it's still a bit of an ill fit).
What's interesting about Gorod's melodic style is that the focus and atmosphere never lands on the "evil" spectrum, which is a nice indicator of where the general scene is at the moment. Bands like Fallujah, Gods of Eden and even the recent Obscura track seem to focus on applying total melody to technical death metal and Gorod bridge the gap between the extremes quite nicely.
"Celestial Nature" is one of the stronger tracks on the album, immediately jumping into things with slicing guitar chords and unusual kick grooves. There's just something about it that really encapsulates Gorod's sound. "An Order to Reclaim" seems to have a hint of Chaka Khan about it, mashing an addictive melodic theme into frantic bursts of madness.
"Rejoice Your Soul" is just pure fun.
Another point of interest is how the production feels. Having more of a thrashy, thin guitar tone and mid-punchy bass makes the album feel much more alive and bouncy that it probably would be if the distortion had been caked on. One thing to add, Gorod are probably the most extreme metal band to actually use Telecasters and the sound they get out of them feels sprightly and is a great, overall fit.
Lyrics — 8
Vocals are handled exclusively by longtime vocalist Julian Deyres and form one of the more "grounded" elements to the album. Ranging from beefy gutturals to Jacob Bannon style yells and proclamations (also he does that thing that only French death metal vocalists seem to do where they sing through a scream, like Joe Duplantier), various layers of harsh vox work in interesting and dynamic ways on this album. In fact, the balance between instrumental space and vocal space is dead on which is a very difficult thing to get right in this genre.
The balance in the mix is also great, allowing both instruments and vocals to blend nicely but also be easy to discern. Some may feel the overall inclusion of these sorts of vocals to be too "jumpy" in a sense, being just fast enough to be hard to follow but that's a minor niggle at best.
Lyrically, Gorod steer a little bit away from what could be considered typical lyrical themes of the genre and instead relay interesting narratives on mysticism, portrayals of deities and even a deliberation on the "miraculous" nature of art.
An excerpt from the verse in "Celestial Nature":
"I see Nergal, the epitome of zeal and violence
Meant to strike the right balance between action and wildness
Istar is graceful and irresistible
A boundless dedication doomed to fall into madness."
Not necessarily a simple "praise" of the characters in these lyrical ideas, more a commentary on their interactions.
It's rather fascinating that the lyrics are this sophisticated and topically diverse, the "epic" feeling that the album gives really adds to the weight of those words.
Overall Impression — 8
A very enjoyable, unique band delivers a very enjoyable, unique sound, one that flits between memorable melodic passages and brutal segments with character and a twinkly eye. While also being an incredibly accomplished piece of work, the album has this innate sense of fun about it; just the way the rhythms "bounce" and the addition of more major key sounding melodies really builds on that.
Would recommend for fans of tech death and maybe even Diablo Swing Orchestra.
Songs to look out for: "Celestial Nature," "Inner Alchemy," "An Order to Reclaim," "Rejoice Your Soul," "Syncretic Delirium."