The chances that you will read a negative review of GOROD's "Process of a New Decline" are slim at best. The French tech-death band's follow up to "Leading Vision" has been hailed as one of the year's best albums of its kind. It would seem that GOROD has in fact earned its place among the tech-death elite, not only for impressive and over the top musicianship, but also for an improved mastery of melody, one of the areas of improvement over "Leading Vision". And yet I do not find myself in a mind blown state or smack dab in the process of nervous system shutdown.Of course, we are talking in comparative terms here and as much as I try to avoid the hype over an album prior to a review, it is difficult to shut it out when you are as ensconced in the community of death metal scribes as I am. The fact of that matter is that "Process of a New Decline" would seem to have all the elements that most fans would want out of a tech-death album, namely awe-inspiring guitar work from axe-masters Arnaud Pontaco and Mathieu Pascal, the forefront-ed and fabulously frenetic bass playing of Benoit Claus, and the rhythmically unconventional and satisfyingly busy drumming of Samuel Santiago. I prefer a fuller/deeper growl than that possessed by vocalist Guillaume Martinot, though it is not a real problem here, and the deep lyrical content cannot be discounted. It probably goes without saying that the "coolness factor" of parts, sections, and segments is found to the left and to the right, not to mention the north and the south, which as we all know does not necessarily a good "song" make. And melody really isn't an afterthought, as "Diverted Logic" and "The Path" (complete with CYNIC style extraterrestrial vocals), to name just a couple, demonstrate, yet it is nothing that I can't shake out of my ear holes with minimal effort. There are a wealth of odd-time signatures, peculiar riffs, and lopsided chords s (e.g. "Rebirth of Sense" and "Splinters of Life") too that demand nods of appreciation. Melodically speaking though, OBSCURA still wins the battle in a songwriting contest. Like I said, it will be a rare occurrence that you will read a lambasting of "Process of a New Decline" and that trend continues with this review. The difference to my ears is the lack of a set of overall, yet not easily definable, characteristics that make it a contender for year-end best-of lists. It is kind of the same feeling I got with "Leading Vision". On paper, if you will, all the elements are in place for tech-death greatness. At the end of the day though, what counts is how the album makes you feel. In my case, it makes me feel like I'm listening to an accomplished tech-death act that has written an accomplished tech-death album about which I am on the fence. Alas, as maddening as it may, I'm giving it one of those "something-is-missing-that-I-can't-quite-place" assessments that keeps it from falling into the "Great Tech-Death Album" category, something that feels, for lack of a better term, flat. I've spent a lot of time trying to locate it and have never been successful. A subpar "Process of a New Decline" is definitely not. It is just that the overall vibe I get from it translates to "enjoyable and well played, but having some difficulty really getting into it."
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