Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Metal & Hardcore Albums

2. Gorguts
Colored Sands
(Season of Mist)

At one time, the prognosis for Gorguts' future seemed grim. The Sherbrooke, QC-based technical death metal necromancers, helmed by solitary original member Luc Lemay, went quiet after releasing From Wisdom To Hate in 2001, and splintered further when long-time drummer Steve MacDonald committed suicide in 2002; the band formally split apart in 2005. Even with a tentative reunion in 2008, with a handful of live performances and gestures towards writing new material, it seemed unlikely that the band would be able to return to full strength.

Then, they revealed Colored Sands, a vast and roaring leviathan of an album, as ferocious as it is triumphant. With a new lineup composed of Lemay on guitar and vocals, Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Krallice), John Longstreth (Origin, Dim Mak) on drums and Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia, Vaura) on guitar, Gorguts have returned like the hydra: for every head that was cut off, three more have grown in its place. Colored Sands, more than just a vast and devastating return to form, is also a significant step forward for the group.

The longer compositions allow for more narrative and structural development, incorporating progressive and even classical forms: "The Battle of Chamdo" is an entirely classical composition, composed by Lemay and recorded by string quartet, but just as hostile and filled with tension as the rest of the record. Colored Sands is relentless, and whether tossing the listener about on ravenous seas in "An Ocean of Wisdom" or sinking its teeth in deep on "Absconders," every moment of the record goes for the throat. Few bands have ever managed to rise from their own ashes with such ferocity and grace. (Natalie Zina Walschots)