Gorguts is a Technical Death Metal band from Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada. The band was formed in 1989 and was part of the first wave of Death Metal with its debut Considered Dead from 1991 (for which Chris Barnes – then Cannibal Corpse, now Six Feet Under – did a few backing vocals) and their 1998 Masterpiece Obscura. The’ve released 5 studio albums to date with Colored Sands being the latest – released this year via Season of Mist.
Colored Sands is a concept album about the Tibetan culture and history. The song “The Battle of Chamdo” for example reflects the Chinese invasion of Tibet in October 1950. It was a military campaign by the People’s Republic of China against an independent Tibet after months of failed negotiations to capture the Tibetan army in Chamdo, demoralize the Lhasa government, and thus exert pressure to send negotiators to Beijing to sign terms recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Tibet (source).
The album’s title refers to mandalas, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition, or more specifically sand mandalas made with colored sands. A sand mandala is ritualistically destroyed once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life (source).
Gorguts guitarist/vocalist Luc Lemay told Zero Tolerance magazine in an interview: “I bought piles of books. I feel the same way I did at the conservatory when I was writing classical pieces. It takes months and months, the pieces you just can’t get it out of your system. You need to become a sponge, you need to get soaked with the topic. So far so good I’m very very happy with what we’ve done.
In the first place I wanted to write the whole album about the rituals of mandalas made with sand. One day my girlfriend’s little daughter colored in a coloring book a mandala for me and I wondered what a mandala was, I liked the word. I searched on the Internet and found out this is a Tibetan thing and then it clicked, this is gonna be it, but I didn’t have any clue, I wasn’t very educated on the Tibetan culture. This mandala thing gets so complex, you could study it for 25-30 years before you know exactly what you’re talking about, so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll take it from a different angle.’ It’s not a National Geographic documentary either. It’s very poetic and very epic. This is my vision. I have no pretension about telling ‘truth’; it’s how I feel about these people.” (source).
The cover artwork is an interesting take on the album’s concept where the line between praying and imprisonment is blurred and the individual becomes sand in the wind.