Catuvolcus - _Gergovia_
(Deathbound Records, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
In the grand tug of war between showing and growing, _Gergovia_ plants its considerable weight firmly in the grower category. Not that some of its charms aren't immediately accessible: its tireless tempos, triumphant chord progressions, and throat-scarring rasps are highly effective and familiar territory to any ears fed a consistent diet of black and death metal. But an unbroken hour of such tenacity is a rich meal, and a first listen to the new Catuvolcus record reveals only its aggressive outer surface. Follow the French Canadian group through multiple spins, though, and the compositional layers begin to pull apart, with extraordinary results.

Bookended by a pair of Agalloch-style forest stream laments, _Gergovia_ really gets going with "Par Monts et par Vaux", a blackened war metal maelstrom with a chorus that, melodically and vocally, leans toward Gojira's stomping grounds. As the album progresses, the seemingly endless charge is actually comprised of various interlocking melodic and rhythmic pieces that follow a series of emotional pathways. Bathory influence creeps into the hammer-swinging melodies and baritone singing on "La Colline de Chanturges". When the bass peeks out of the din, it always has important ideas to convey. Drums surge constantly, and phenomenal guitar work rages throughout each ambitious song; though, for whatever reason, Catuvolcus bury their catchiest lead in eighth track "A la Poursuite des Vents".

Some metal gains notoriety and admiration for the extremity of its monochrome intensity. In response, another breed of heavy music splashes itself with over-the-top neon pastels. Catuvolcus paint with a palette that is broad but never gaudy, and the resulting _Gergovia_ is both exhilarating and enjoyable.


(article published 1/7/2012)

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