GORATORY – Sour Grapes (2020)REVIEW

Although I’m not sure I’d directly asked this question back when Lore Gore‘s most recent record popped out and was pretty solid but, Why do we need the spirit of 2000’s brutal death metal revived in this already hyper-brutal landscape of reality-core of today? The answer should slap against your skull as quickly and inevitably as Tony Koehl‘s painterly depiction of testicles were destined to slap you on the forehead: The brutality of that era might’ve been disgustingly inbred, violently non-politically correct and oddly inclusive of tough guy hardcore posturing yet, it was absolutely necessary to keep death metal from falling into a horrendous and inevitable ouroboric rut. Extreme metal was more extreme for this new savagery even if it all that came of it was thousands of MySpace boostin’ teenagers across the United States putting out 20 minute CD-Rs of unlistenable gargling pornogrind — The artform was better, more accessible and pushed deeper underground for it. Unpretentious revisionist stupidity is the right sort of gateway back to a dull-but-golden era, just ask Goratory, a band who’d formed post Y2K as a troupe of six Boston-area teenagers who’d made a ton of other established brutal death metal bands sound like wimps on record with their first few records. They were hilarious, they were disgusting, and yet somehow their high-energy brutal slapstick would open doors for more serious action down the road. The main reason I’d point anyone towards their fourth album, ‘Sour Grapes‘, after a sixteen year hiatus today is for the sake of reintroducing the ‘stupid’ extremity of yesterday through aging eyes. That, and the “horrified at balls” album art is exactly what 2020 needs.

To reiterate Goratory were pretty much kids during the original run of the band starting in 2000 and fading out in between 2005-2009. What changed around that time? Death metal took a more serious, less gore and rape-hounding turn for the sake of a few bands getting big as they swapped out chug for tech. It wasn’t a matter of human decency, just money and boredom aligning towards the right sensibilities. Many labels were involved in this greater evolution but revisionist history absolutely points towards embiggened labels like Unique Leader setting the tone and changing it once deathcore became too big to ignore. Although Goratory were ripe for this change based on their groove heavy brutal death metal sound on their first (‘Sexual Intercorpse‘, 2001) and second (‘Orgasm Induced Diarrhea‘, 2002) albums it was the third (‘Rice on Suede, 2004) where major line-up shifts, most notably a drummer swap that’d signal a slightly, very slightly more serious tone. The former/original drummer would go on to form Abnormality, who you’ll likely know if you keep up with Metal Blade‘s meager brutal roster. On that same note the original bassist was out by 2003 and has been in The Black Dahlia Murder since 2012 or so. It doesn’t really say anything about Goratory that it’d be the project that folks would leave before they found success but it was pretty much a trend as they’d become less active. The biggest example being guitarist Alan Glassman, who technically never left, swerving over to Job For a Cowboy beyond their first album and drummer Darren Cesca (Deeds of Flesh) spilling over into Pillory and Arsis records along the way. If you look at the resumes, the timeline, and the opportunities on offer, Goratory was basically a side project by 2005 or so.

So, what lineage is there to uphold? Groove heavy brutal death metal with a bit of blast-happy bree-bree and entirely moshable technical death metal bob n’ weave skills. ‘Sour Grapes’ is all of the inspirational energy I didn’t feel like they’d brought on the stiff-necked and sweat-slicked tech-death entrance of ‘Rice on Suede’, though it arrives without any of the groaty gore-fed production. Some call Goratory‘s third album a classic, I always tended towards the more violent whip of the first two if only because they were characteristic through consistency. Anyhow, in the cover art this guy is freaked about a pair of balls and its blowin’ his mieh, I mean the only way this thing is going to hold up is if the snare pops right and the riffs are good non-deathcore kinda cuts. Thankfully this more or less holds true on ‘Sour Grapes’, a short and fairly technical album that thrives on its jagged riffs and drum technique for most of the best in-the-pocket brutal death metal moments within. Yes, there are songs with titles like “Shit Your Pants” but outside of some characteristic Cryptopsy-boppin’ bass hits and a few slippery Dying Fetus hoedowns it isn’t a ‘fun’ death metal album beyond a the silly-assed lyrics. This is Goratory with their shit together, professional enough to crank out a killer record that they’ve still had fun with and it would be fair to say it is their most ‘accomplished’ rendering to date thanks to Cesca‘s solid production skills.

Riffs? Eh, I’m intentionally deaf to whatever deathcore is beyond 2005 so you can figure out if they’re beefin’ around that dinner plate. Most of the tightly packed barrage on offer is more “evolved” than a lot of the dunder headed Suffo-grinders from the early 2000’s but only by way of more elaborate riff runs, different syncopated chug formulae and a lack of reliance upon repetitive amateur flourishes, such as pinch harmonics or merciless sweeping. The experience does read as tech-death throughout, probably appealing to folks who’d loved Lividity‘s latest but wanted a bit more clarity of render and variety of riff, in that sense ‘Sour Grapes’ should be the right stuff for folks looking back upon a certain period of brutal classics without sounding entirely too nostalgic. I’d approached this record for the sake of nostalgia and it didn’t deliver entirely so that’d actually speak to the idea that Goratory are doing something right in my book. As is, a sharp, dense and satisfying enough brutal death metal album from an old-ass band only the sickest 2000’s kids will remember. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (68/100)

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Sour Grapes
LABEL(S):Everlasting Spew Records
RELEASE DATE:October 16th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Brutal Death Metal,
Technical Death Metal,

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