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The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, #17: Gorguts, Colored Sands

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MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the next few weeks, we’ll be counting down the entire list, one entry per day.

The countdown continues today with Colored Sands, the 2013 release by Gorguts!

Gorguts’ place in the death metal canon was already locked in stone when the band broke up in 2005. Four universally lauded albums will do that, not the least of which was the game-changing 1998 release, Obscura, which would go on to directly inspire legions of technically inclined death metal bands for the next two decades (and counting).

So when Luc Lemay resurrected the band a few years later with a completely new lineup, anything baring the label “Gorguts” could’ve been considered icing on the cake. Instead, the band delivered a bona fide landmark record in Colored Sands, an album that upped the ante once again and bowled over fans and newcomers alike with it’s dazzling array of finely-tuned brutality, artful insanity and dazzling yet poised musicianship.

Lemay is a genius in his own right — we’ve already established that, right? — but there’s no way around the fact that a huge part of the success of Colored Sands came from the hands of his new collaborators, bassist Colin Marston (Behold… The Arctopus, Krallice, Dysrhythmia), guitarist Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia, Vaura) and drummer John Longstreth (Origin, Skinless, The Red Chord), whose fingerprints are all over every orifice of this album. While the bulk of the songwriting and artistic vision in Gorguts were and always will be Lemay’s, Marston and Hufnagel in particular have playing styles so instantly recognizable that’s it hard to imagine what Colored Sands would have sounded like without them. You know it when you hear it — often referred to as “skronk” — a sound that made for instant chemistry with Lemay’s own pioneering style of death metal. Longstreth’s drumming is the glue that binds Lemay, Marston and Hufnagel’s styles together, thunderous and raucous while restrained, deliberate and purposeful. Just as crucial were Marston’s contributions on the other side of the board as mixer, where the New York-based musician turned in a legendary knob-twiddling performance that’s the perfect balance of huge, clean and nasty, that combination every metal mixer seeks but so few achieve. And while we’re talking production, the string arrangement on “The Battle of Chamdo” is a thing of unmatched beauty as well.

Colored Sands was an instant classic from the moment it came out. Where so often “comeback” albums fall flat, every death metal nerd flipped their shit when Lemay put his woodworking career aside and produced one of the greatest albums of the decade. Long live Gorguts, long live Lemay, and long live death fucking metal.

The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019:

#25: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (2016)
#24: Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (2010)
#23: Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (2012)
#22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)
#21: The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual (2011)
#20: Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014)
#19: At the Gates, At War with Reality (2012)
#18: Meshuggah, Koloss (2012)

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