When I was a kid, I’d always look forward to weekends when my grandmother would come over and watch us while my parents enjoyed a much-deserved evening out. Not only would there be trips to get burgers and ice cream, jaunts to search for He-Man (and later pro wrestling) action figures, but there also was that rare occasion when we’d get to stay up really late and peruse the weird nighttime TV, a phenomenon that’s deader than dead, even with the multitude of channels at our disposal.
On those evening when I go to see what the box had to offer after 11 p.m., two things drew my interest the most: true stories about UFO abductions (and these weren’t the sanitized, well-produced shows we have now) and Godzilla movies. The latter is what initially made me seek out the band Gojira, but beyond the name, they didn’t offer much lyrical content that leaned toward the monstrous. But Gigan is a different story altogether and are another band I initially sought out simply because their band name is inspired by one of Godzilla’s many nemeses. Added to all that, their lyrical content and sound matched each other perfectly, almost as if this bizarre, destructive machine was the product of monsters and robots and not real humans.
The trio that comprises Gigan is, in fact, human. They just don’t play that way. The brainchild of lefty ax-handler Eric Hersemann (formerly of Hate Eternal and Diabolic), who plays guitar, bass and many other weapons such as Theremin, xylophone, and various other noise-making contraptions, Gigan is rounded out by a brand-new lineup, including vocalist John Collett (of the quite underrated Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky), and drummer Kaish. For those of you keeping score at home, this is now three releases for Gigan, and three different rosters. But this trio you hear on the new “Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes,” their first album for Willowtip, is the best incarnation of Gigan to date, and certainly the most vicious. I’m really hoping these three stick it out for the long haul, because I can only imagine what they could come up with once they’ve completely congealed as a unit.
This new effort, their second full-length and follow-up to 2008’s “The Order of the False Eye,” is one of the best, most unique death metal albums I’ve heard this year. Much of that can be attributed to the myriad of guitar effects Hersemann employs when building this band’s sound. There are spacey, psychedelic elements to what he does, and sometimes what he plays is so fast and cartoon-like, it sounds like it could soundtrack a really demented episode of “Tom and Jerry.” Just listen to “The Raven and the Crow” and “In the Tentacled Grasp of the Buried Behemoth” and see if you don’t agree. It’s a mix of mathy brutality and wacky soundscapes, and it’s a total blast to hear. Speaking of blasts, Kaish holds up his end nicely, hammering his kit and entering warp speed when the time is right, while Collett (taking over vocal duties from Randy Piro) sounds both focused and revenge-minded, the perfect dude to be contributing the voice to a mammoth trying to topple a city.
I’ve only had my copy of “Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes” for a few weeks now, but I may have listened to this album as many times as anything else that’s come out this year. I think I’ve listened every day, and I’ve not come close to tiring of the thing. There are so many neck-wrenching twists and turns, volcanic eruptions, and downright trippiness that I truly discover something new each time I visit the thing. The surging guitar melodies and alien-like vocals of “Transmogrification Into the Bio-Luminoid” happens to be my favorite of all the songs on there at the moment. And that’s just at the moment, because I previously was stuck on “Suspended in Cubes of Torment” and its awesome start-stop thrashy chorus. It’s enough to make you want to punch a wall with glee or drive a mechanized humanoid into a crowd of people. “Vespelmadeen Terror” is so caked with affected vocals and meaty lashing, I can’t tell if I’m supposed to chill out or run for hiding. Another thing I really like about the production in general is while gigantic beasts and their torment of whatever world they inhabit certainly is here in full, there also are times where I feel like the band wants to expand your mind to other plains of existence, and the music takes you there. Similar to what I said in last week’s psyche metal entry, you don’t need any mind-altering substances to get you there either, as long as you let your mind go along for the ride with the band. I can enjoy this disc equally if I’m driving on the freeway or lying stationary. And I’ve done both while listening to “Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes.”
I don’t remember the last time I heard an album – Gigan’s two other efforts included – that captured my interest and imagination the way this one has. I’ve said it time and time again that it’s so hard to pinpoint exciting new bands worth spouting on about because so much shit sounds exactly alike these days. There hardly are any chances taken anymore. Gigan break through the mold in lava-spewing manner and have made a record that deserves the attention of the metal world. This is the type of album year-end, best-of lists were made to trumpet, and if you haven’t done so yet, get a copy of this thing now. It’ll make just about every other death metal album you hear in 2011 seem dull in comparison. Now, to fire up Netflix and check their Godzilla collection …
For more on the band, go here: http://www.myspace.com/giganmusic
To buy “Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes,” go here: http://www.willowtip.com/releases/details/gigan-quasi-hallucinogenic-sonic-landscapes.aspx
For more on the label, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/
For Gigan’s tour dates, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/tours/gigan.aspx
For more on Gigan the monster, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigan