Gigan / Sunless @ Coalition, Toronto on May 9th 2018
Let’s get tech! Tonight marks the return of progressive death metal weirdos Gigan, hitting one of two Canadian dates as part of their Undulating Waves Across North America tour. This tour seeks to air out selections from last year’s underground full-length Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence, the trio’s first full-length in four years. The Coalition hosts this night of complex abrasiveness.
The only support band tonight is Sunless, a little known prog death collective from Minneapolis. Last year, this three-piece released their debut album Urraca and any band would be proud to release such an accomplished full-length as a debut. Drawing heavily from Gorguts with a thrash edge and mid-era Opeth subtleties, Sunless are impressive to watch and hear. Their music is pregnant with foreboding guitar leads while at times, it pronounces its death metal heavier with a choking bludgeon and blastbeats. There are pained crawling and sprinting tempos, a band that is dedicated to variety. The music is well-realized, advancing through a sensible narrative without jarring bipolar changes or quirks. There are very few people to witness Sunless’s set but those present award them with a hearty response. It’s safe to say they attracted some Toronto converts to their fanbase. It’s worth keeping an eye on this promising grouping in case they ever visit your nearest city.
Unfortunately, the Coalition does not fill up much more by the time headliners Gigan hit the stage but that only makes this set feel more elusive and rewarding of those committed enough to attend. No time is wasted as the instrumental “Footsteps of Gigan” greets the audience. This transitions into “Undead Auditory Emanations”, bristling with convoluted guitar tapping, jazzy bass and dizzying meticulousness. What sets Gigan apart from other progressive death metal bands is the palpable atmosphere and that tends towards the alien rather than the claustrophobic that other dissonant death metal hordes favour. The songs are expulsed with such conviction and energy that despite the compact spectator size, an abundance of necks attempt to headbang in time with the offbeat and ever-transforming time signatures.
The studio line up of Gigan is made of three musicians but as founding member Eric Hersemann straddles a variety of different instruments, tonight he just focuses on guitar while they employ a live bassist to beef up their ranks. Vocalist Jerry Kavouriaris joined the headliners last year and provides a comfortable austere stage presence with a vicious bark, exhibiting no signs of being the ‘new guy’. Selections from new album Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence are aired to an enthusiastic crowd. The tortuous guitar melodies and angular prog leads ensure the likes of “Elemental Transmography” and “Plume of Ink Within a Vacuum” remain scintillating throughout. Fans of each of Gigan’s four albums and EP are not left disappointed as music from each release is aired on. “Influence Through Ritualistic Projection” and “Vespelmadeen Terror” are particular highlights, illustrating how such complex metal can also be remarkably memorable. By the time the band finishes their show and thanks the Toronto crowd, time has spun by far too quickly. This was indeed a rare kind of show, full of talent without pomp, bloating or disappointment.