Death metal without Gorguts seemed like a shotgun wedding without the alcoholism. When Luc Lemay announced he'd be bringing life back into his old band, I don't think anyone was surprised: Cynic, Atheist, Autopsy, and countless others had all returned from the depths of obscurity with new recordings, and since groups like Ulcerate were paying homage to Gorguts, it only seemed practical. The greatest quality of "Colored Sands" is that it continues the Gorguts blueprint with a clarity untouched by the hands of time. The odd, disjointed chords and abstract song structures formed to focus on technicality without bloating the album with complex nonsense remind me of "From Wisdom to Hate," yet this is an entirely new product. After all is said and done, "Colored Sands" fits well into the Gorguts tale.
I think it's easy to overvalue this as a masterpiece that topples all of the band's remaining records based on how it sounds: "Colored Sands" is certainly the most digestible and retainable work within Gorguts' catalog. Everything released after "Considered Dead" is a challenging experience for death metal novices at firstGorguts' abstract slaughter leaves little room for explanation, and it takes time to 'get' Gorguts. But given the path and popularity of technical death metal and the direction of "Colored Sands," it really isn't that shocking how accessible the album is. I'm not implying Gorguts left behind any of the faction's trademark themes, as Lemay's tormenting howls and the enigmatic assortment of death metal remain untarnished. "Colored Sands" is simply loyal to the past but mindful of the present.
The record specifically sounds like a continuation of the instrumentation of "From Wisdom to Hate," which was more concrete than the tornado of music found on "Obscura." The technical riffs are generally, well, technical in that they're performed in calculated structures and move through methodological chord progressions, while the drums are stuffed to the brim with off-kilter rhythms, blast beats and zesty fills while the bass zips around underneath the chaos like a caffeinated kid running in circles. Nothing horribly surprising on paper, but Gorguts has many tricks up its sleeve. The enhanced tribal percussion section on "Forgotten Arrows" is an excellent addition to the creativity and power of the Gorguts sound, for instance.
Luc certainly did not lose any of his songwriting chops after twelve years of silence, however. The opening "Le Toit Du Monde" jumps right down into the disjointed instrumentation and ravenous intensity as if Gorguts had been around for the last decade; the atmosphere and color are both amazingly familiar. The same can be said about "An Ocean of Wisdom" and "Forgotten Arrows," both just excellent examples of the Gorguts blueprint prowling forward with foreboding force. The orchestral interlude, "The Battle of Chamdo," is an excellent piece: it captures the dark energy of "Colored Sands" without coming off as a pretentious addition. Superb.
The second half of "Colored Sands" works wonders but lacks the masterful prowess of its opening numbers. "Enemies of Compassion" and "Ember's Voice" are very well done, but "Absconders" and "Reduced to Silence," together adding up to over sixteen minutes, do little for me. There's too much being said without the powerful importance of "Forgotten Arrows" or one of its kin. As a whole comprehensive package, "Colored Sands" is certainly worthy of the Gorguts tag, although it's far from the timeless ingenuity of "The Erosion of Sanity" or "Obscura." However, Gorguts is moving forward, evolving, changing its genetic code at will, and I don't think there could've been a more natural comeback than this reawakening of technical death metal's godfather.