I was recently talking about the Art of Dying project with some friends who don't listen to metal. When I played the song for them, they were almost taken aback by the wall of sound. The sound was so dense for them that they could hardly understand how I could "see" any shapes in the music.
I started thinking a bit more about how the wall of sound can make extreme metal difficult to listen to and understand. Lack of obvious melodic lines, extremely dense rhythms, fast tempos, saturated vocals, loudness, minor/diminished /almost dissonant harmonies, distortion and reverberation all contribute to this effect.
Now with my synesthesia, I often see this wall of sound as a sort of genetic imprint of a song - a sort of first level of perception.
I see the contours of the song, shapes which are determined by the melodies and the dynamics. Colors tend to come from tones, harmonies and the general timbre (though the name of a song, prominent lyrics or even the CD track number can lend a tiny colored effect too). The rhythms and reverberation generally determine how much white, black and grey are present.
This genetic imprint pretty much stays the same for any song I listen to. It is most often stronger than my auditory memory of the song. If I want to recall music from a certain album, I always picture its genetic imprint first - sometimes the music comes to mind right away, but sometimes all I can rememer is the shape and color of a song.
So, the wall of sound for the introduction (after the drum intro) to The Art of Dying looks roughly something like this :
For me, 2 things in particular distinguish Gojira's sound:
• highly resonant, warm, organic and bass-heavy sound - which I see as bands of grey, in varying thicknesses and shades.
• unusual rhythmic textures and polyrythmns - which I see as looping through and turning around each other.
Their music is just so thick and highly textured, there is so much to take in. What I really enjoy is focusing on different dimensions of the music and letting the genetic imprint take on all sorts of complexities and details. this is what makes music really interesting for me... and what is fueling the whole project!