Gru – Cosmogenesis

01/10/2011 § Leave a comment

Piotrek Gruszka has created a monster, a behemoth among progressive metal music when it’s at its direst need of rehabilitative innovation. For me the Lerpouses, The Animals as Leaders and the Unexpects of this world aren’t cutting it. There was a time when progressive metal still had a soul, and that soul is frequently ripped out and replaced with over-technicality and glib showmanship. All too often we forget that it is possible to have both feeling with technique and though they’re not mutually exclusive, it’s a very difficult elixir to concoct. I’ll admit I was concerned about this one, yet another progressive album with space-like artwork and space-like themes which hackney the underground to saturation, but Gru seems to have an understanding of this subject which works at a genetic level. This is a reasoning-through of the macrocosmos from a microcosmic perspective.

It may have swallowed him whole. Cosmogenesis was released over Bandcamp as a free download back in October 2010, and though I’m late to the party with documenting my own critique, this album is such a perfect contribution to the progressive metal genre that it should not be overlooked. Gruska has been quiet recently though. Maybe Cosmogenesis dealt with all those negative ions in his system which were released cathartically in the production of this octet; maybe he’s gone into hiding, drowned under a deluge of positive comments and amorous feedback; or maybe the call of what cynics and the embittered like to call the ‘real world’ has snared him in its lockjaw. The album has disappeared from the free download section – as has the ability to purchase the thing – but it’s still streamable and the half-savvy among you could acquire a download with ease. Gru has enigmafied himself, but his oeuvre lives on.

As caution-inducing as the spacey theme might be for some, concerns of bloated synth sounds and bubbling overlong reverb diatribes should be put to rest. Yes, this album does like to season its delivery but it’s never overdone. Gruzska is an astounding guitarist and songwriter, being able to transmit the fullest force of intense emotion in each note he plays. The guitar is not just an instrument but an annex, with an ice-clear link between his intentions and execution. Gruszka is able to syphon off each last drip of meaning from his core into the solos which pour forth on Cosmogensis, and each one has it’s own voice, it’s own call, it’s own song within a song. The guitar tone used throughout the album gives a feeling of distance, depth and regression, each note played with fervour, patience and understanding, whether they be the long, drawn-out accents of “Aurora” or the staggering artillery-fire of semiquavers which assaults us towards the end of the second track stunner “Nebula”.

All the work is undertaken by Gruszka from playing, programming and production in much the same way as the excellent Cloudkicker’s output. Where Cosmogensis excels is in its modesty. The album comes in at 34 minutes, any more would be sheer overindulgence when the message – whatever exactly that is – has been fully delivered. Piotrek chooses not to eke things out at the mercy of album-length alone and this debut is all the stronger for it. It strips its layers and reveals more to you as time go on: the extra sprinkle of melodics in “Fermi Paradox”, the beautiful introspective middle eight of “Stellar” and those tinges of rising and falling syths in the background of “Andromeda”. And these discoveries and their causal sensations will keep you coming back time and time again. No vocals are needed here, the guitar provides voice enough alone, and beams its meaning into us so directly and alchemically that no further lyrical exposition is required.

The best kinds of technical metal albums shouldn’t feel technical. As listeners we shouldn’t be thrown puzzles and musical riddles which we have to sit down and unravel over and over before they dare to show us some scuffed nugget of meaning or enjoyment. Most of the time Comosgenesis feels so genuine that it hardly comes across as to how technical and uninhibited it actually is. Give it further reruns and the tempos, the time signatures and the astounding dexterity will present themselves, but almost unwillingly. Gru isn’t here to show off technically but to present ideas, themes and emotions, which just happen to be with a thorough and skilful understanding of this genre, and in doing so gives us one of the best works of heavy music I’ve come across in the last twelve months. These days the old progressive metal superstructures may be being razed and dismantled, but Gruszka holds one of the final pieces.

Rating: 5/5

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