In 2016, St. Louis, Missouri, metal quartet THE GORGE played a relatively innocuous gig opening for their like-minded buddies Intronaut, unaware that a 17 second video of their set casually posted to social media by the headliner’s frontman (and Dunable Guitars figurehead) Sacha Dunable would forever alter the band’s trajectory. Among the video’s viewers was Pelagic Records founder Robin Staps, who invited the band to tour the U.S. with his project The Ocean Collective and signed them to his label for their long-awaited third LP, 2023’s Mechanical Fiction – an album that demonstrates The Gorge’s masterful amalgam of djent precision, prog fearlessness, and the cathartic energy of early 2000s metallic hardcore.
Staps’ visceral reaction to The Gorge is relatable; it takes far less than 17 seconds of Mechanical Fiction to witness the members’ instrumental virtuosity and a rhythmic complexity that makes most mathcore look like second grade algebra. But as songs progress, riffs morph, curveballs are thrown, and disorienting tensions give way to involuntary head-nodding climaxes, the delicate balances behind the heaviness emerge. Mechanical Fiction is technical but tasteful, brainy but cathartic, relentless but inviting.
The musical kinship of The Gorge’s members runs deep. Guitarist/vocalist Phil Ring, guitarist Joe Bowers, bassist Chris Turnbaugh, and Jerry Mazzuca have collaborated in various projects for more than half of their lives. Ring, Bowers, and Mazzuca have formed the core of The Gorge since their 2010 inception. Turnbaugh joined in 2016, making Mechanical Fiction his first recording. Their 2012 debut Prehistoric Relapse featured original bassist Nick Jost (now of Baroness), while the band borrowed Ryan Thompson from thrash outfit Black Fast for their 2016 album Thousand Year Fire.
The Gorge’s singular vision of heavy music is rooted in eclectic influences ranging from Meshuggah and Botch to Igor Stravinsky and John Coltrane. They have shared stages with Dillinger Escape Plan, Everytime I Die, Protest The Hero, and The Armed, and plan to celebrate Mechanical Fiction with East Coast tour date in the fall.