Gigan’s psyche death metal rips another huge hole in cosmos on crushing ‘…Rainbiotic Iridescence’

It’s probably no secret that we’re big sci-fi fans around here. Half the movies we own and half that toys lining the office walls are from that genre (it’s probably a tie with pro wrestling), so any time that genre winds up ensconced in metal, we’re definitely willing to take it on. Plus, it always has as a bit of an escape from daily life and its many frustrations.

Chicago-based death metal bruisers Gigan always serve the sci-fi aspects generously in their music. While many death metal bands are obsessed with death, violence, and hatred, this band always steered the other direction and stood out for it. Not only are we dealing with fantastical material lyrically, but the music the band makes also sounds like it was dreamt and translated by aliens from worlds away. Their new record “Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence” is another captivating journey into the Gigan universe, a place with intergalactic wonders and beasts you could not even imagine are woven into these monstrous tales. Led by primary visionary Eric Hersemann (guitars, bass, theremin, weird sounds, lyrics, concept, etc.) and backed up by new vocalist Jerry Kavouriaris and drummer Nathan Cotton, the band whips up eight tracks and more than 55 minutes of psychedelic madness that crushes and captivates. It’s a really strong effort, one that easily tops their last record, 2013’s “Multi-Dimensional Fractal-Sorcery and Super Science,” a record that fell kind of flat. This one is an awesome return to form, and it’s an album that’s been on repeat for months now.

“Wade Forward Through Matter and Backwards Through Time” is as strange and challenging as its title hints. A slurry intro takes us into a sprawl of sound that’s joined by guitar work going all over the place, vocals scorching, and an all-around sense of zaniness. The guitars then go into a haze, as a space trance spreads, only to be interrupted by a final burst of madness. “Elemental Bronchography” has dizzying guitars that cause your head to spin, and they’re joined by a pace that rips open your chest cavity. The vocals crush, while the music smears itself all over the place, leading into volcanic outbursts and a gargantuan conclusion. “Plume of Ink Within a Vacuum” punches itself out of its box, betraying the sea-borne calm the title seems to lean toward. Riffs ripple, while the growls roar, and the guitar work goes into cartoonish insanity that’s both fun to hear and physically challenging to digest. “Ocular Wavelengths’ Floral Obstructions” opens with burly mashing, guitars racing and trampling, and throaty growls that convey pain. The tempo twists into tricky, then testy waters, as things catapult into space, and everything thickens all over again. The back end of the song mauls over and over, leaving you a putrid mess.

“Hideous Wailing of the Ronowen During Nightshade” sounds like a horrifying situation, and it opens in psyche noise, cosmic zaps, and slow sludging. As things progress, the track begins to drub heavily, taking on a monstrous stance and spewing the bones of strange creatures everywhere. Then the song goes into a mental fog, bleeding out into static. “Hyperjump-Ritual Madness” is utter insanity at the start, as heaviness unloads, the growls gargle, and weird, loopy guitar lines spiral overhead, entangling you. The band grinds its assault, unloading in a calculated manner, though the final minutes find the guitars slicing through stars, and the song taking you on a playful trip toward destruction. “Clockwork With Thunderous Hooves” has noises striking, hellish growls, and a gritty, muddy pace that feels like it would claim your boots if you tried walking through it. The drums begin to decimate, while mind-bending heaviness crushes, and the sound devastates you. More cartoon violence erupts from the guitars, as the track comes to a rough, sinewy end. Closer “In Between, Throughout Form and Void” runs just over 10 minutes, and it starts off huffing alien gasses and letting melodies spin through the headspace. Much of the track remains odd, which is no surprise, and gasps of ugly death switch gears and head right into the cosmos. An extended section of playing keeps your brain at work, but also numb, and when the band returns to clubbing you minutes later, it’s a combination of flying asteroid parts and dreamy crunching that lead you to the final destination.

Gigan’s journey through imagination rather than death and bloodshed always has been a refreshing beacon among death metal’s murk, and “Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence” finds the band firing with great passion and precision. Their sci-fi leanings are a fantastic dose of escapism, and it sure helps that the music packs a cosmic punch. This band has their creativity back at its apex, and with more music like what we find here, we’ll be happy to take these sojourns into the stars for years to come.

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