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Whenever I'm thinking about the spectrum of technical death metal, the idea of that style of extreme metal coexisting with actual catchy hooks and memorable songwriting in a melodic sense don't immediately leap to mind. Tech-death delivers the extremes of complexity and violence fused together, a vortex of knuckle-disintegrating fretboard sweeps, baffling chord structures, inhuman tempos, and stop-on-a-dime time changes between various time signatures, oh, hell yeah. But it's not too often that a tech-death band succeeds in conjoining those elements with a rock-solid classic heavy metal sensibility towards crafting genuinely infectious songs. When Gorod appeared, they tossed that notion out the window and proceeded to deliver some of the riveting and most catchy technical brutality in the field. In the mid-2000s, this French band belted out a series of killer prog/tech-death albums in quick succession, all on the U.S. flagship label for cutting-edge death metal, Willowtip. 2005's Neurotripsicks introduced the band's sophisticated, baroque approach to death metal, and followed that with a pretty decent amount of acclaim with 2005's Leading Vision and 2006's Process Of A New Decline. Those first three albums are high points in the prog-death arena for me and Leading Vision is probably my favorite of the bunch.
These ten tracks embellish their brand of technical, complex, in-the-zone death metal with those catchy melodic phrases and memorable songwriting, leaving their music to roll around in my head for awhile after the album's finished. It's in the same shred-stream as the previous Neurotripsicks disc, executing these confounding serpentine songs and alien shredwork via flashy fretboard sweeps, labyrinthine arpeggios and some lights-peed fret tapping that blows my mind regularly. The complicated guitarwork is backed up by machine-precision drumming and a bassist who goes off on some crazed tangents of his own, while staying laser-locked on the blasting directions each song goes flying off into. Stuttering, spasticated structures, brutalizing force, and those whacked-out time signatures put these guys up there with the hyper-calculated death of contemporaries Necrophagist, Neuraxis, and Psyopus, but Gorod also being a fuckin' ton of groove to it that alternates between djent-like syncopations, glimpses of European progressive rock influence (especially on songs like "Edaenia 2312" and "State Of Secret"), brief snatches of jazz fusion-like flourishes (there are a couple of spots on Vision that immediately reminded me of Atheist), and those galloping nods to traditional heavy metal that deliver those big, bold hooks I was talking about. Gorod knows how to rock, and that's probably the biggest thing that sets them apart from the rest of the tech-death crowd. I'm also a fan of the blocks of surreal noise collage that are used as a way to connect the songs together as if it is a continuous "suite". Actually, listening to all of this again as i type this up, I'm also reminded how weirdly "Bungle-ish" these guys can get, their idiosyncratic side often taking songs into pretty demented and surprising directions with a high level of virtuosity; there are these oddball detours into French chanson style melody, super-brief blasts of pop-like melody, five-second carnival-music meltdowns, and deliberately goofy hard rock sections mixed up with everything. Itâ€™s pretty wild.
More than fifteen years on, I still recommend this one to anybody hooked on the more bonkers side of technically intricate and form-warping death metal. The booklet for Leading Vision includes the lengthy concept story behind the music, setting it all in a kind of Voivod-ian science-fiction apocalypse, with fitting, freakish album art that was created by Gorod guitarist Mathieu and which is in a style somewhere between Giger's bio-mech nightmares and Clive Barker's outlandish line illustrations.