Along with American juggernauts Cannibal Corpse and Sweden's Spawn of Possession, France's Gorod have helped finish off what has been one of the best months in death metal for some time. After the band's previous release, Process of a New Decline, the group found themselves with an overall more precise and musically demanding sound, but something seemed to be missing. "Disavow Your God" and "Watershed" aside, the songwriting seemed to be simply not as memorable, although certainly contained the group's most challenging material. What made songs like Leading Vision's "Hidden Genocide" stand out as both daring and quirky was basically absent, and exchanged for a more modern-sounding production and riffs that didn't stand out from the Obscuras and Decapitateds of the world.
Catchiness has been one of the most important additions to A Perfect Absolution, mostly displayed through a slew of more traditionally-harmonized guitar leads and funk-inspired bass fills. New vocalist Julien Deyres adds a more varied and less brutal performance that made the band's first two LPs solidify them as champions of the underground scene. However, his growl is much more easily understood, and the addition of clean vocals in "Elements and Spirit" and "The Axe of God" add a new dynamic rarely used in this genre of music.
Aside from the new additions Gorod has made to their lineup, their core sound still remains strongly intact. A Perfect Absolution successfully combines the more streamlined approach of their recent past with the heavier sounds of the early Gorgasm and Neurotripsicks years. "Elements and Spirit" and "Carved in the Wind" are both prime examples of this synthesis, and are both some of the best songs in the band's career. The former manages to remain technically challenging while being as catchy as a Trivium song, and the latter delivers a killer barrage of progressive, harmonized riffs before entering an unexpected jazz fusion guitar duel. The solos delivered by Mathieu Pascal and new member Nicolas Alberny are nothing less than incredible, showing off plenty of chops while standing out from the myriad of cookie-cutter death metal shredfests. If moments like these don't help propel Gorod to becoming an international act they've been primed to become for years, I give up on the future of extreme music.
The rest of the album ranges from groovier numbers like "Birds of Sulphur", more traditional death metal songs like "The Axe of God" and "Tribute of Blood", and progressive and experimental moments in "5000 At The Funeral" and "Varangian Paradise". "Varangian Paradise" is without a doubt the strangest song on the album, starting off with what sounds like a death metal tribute to Issac Hayes before delving into even weirder, Latin-influenced territory. The wide variety of rhythmic feels, frequent harmonizing of melodies, and varying song structure helps every song stand out from the one preceding it, despite the band staying firmly rooted in progressive death metal. This, along with keeping the album to a modest eight songs and under forty minutes in length, helps eliminate any sort of filler that plagued Process of a New Decline.
It's really a shame that Gorod hasn't been embraced as one of the truly amazing faces of modern death metal like German overnight sensations Necrophagist, but hopefully with the band's fourth full-length album, that should soon change. This album is as catchy as something you'd expect from Protest the Hero , only with twice the balls. A Perfect Absolution comes unconditionally recommended to all fans of metal, whether you're looking for a clinic in music theory or simply trying to bang your head in the car. It looks like we already have a serious contendor for album of the year coming from Bordeaux.