French metal band Gojira, fronted by vocalist Joe Duplantier,
debuted as diligent followers of Meshuggah
with a mediocre version of death-metal on
Terra Incognita (2001) and
The Link (2003).
They found a winning formula on the
ecological concept album From Mars to Sirius (2005):
a mildly aggressive prog-metal that actually recycled old thrash-metal stereotypes.
Ocean Planet is one of their signature songs
(like a "lite" version of Metallica with a gothic growl and quasi-jazz drumming)
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe is the real highlight,
the heaviest song and the closest thing to death-metal on the album, with
its machine-gun guitar riffs, and also the one with the most melodic chorus.
The seven-minute Where Dragons Dwell
and the eight-minute In The Wilderness
are certainly impressive displays of pomp and emphasis, but hardly groundbreaking.
More interesting are the songs that truly uproot the conventions of prog-metal,
like the galopping and delirious Backbone (another display of creative drumming) or the vortex and agony of To Sirius.
The eight-minute Flying Whales segues a hypnotic overture with a stormy, devastating second half.
The seven-minute poppy power-ballad World To Come and
the eight-minute singalong anthem Global Warming
reveal their commercial ambitions.
Even when a song is flat and uninspiring, the rhythm alone is enough to redeem it.
Mario Duplantiera's drums alternate steady martial beats, tom-toms, blastbeats, and jazzy syncopation.
He ranks as one of the most creative drummers of heavy metal.
The success of that album led to the more melodic
The Way of All Flesh (2008).
The pomp is anabated in Oroborus and
and the energy even more exuberant in Toxic Garbage Island.
Meanwhile, they experiment with new hybrids, like the synthpop-infected A Sight To Behold or the magniloquent doom-metal overtones of Vacuity;
and with new ways to inject melody in their magmatic cauldron like in Adoration For None and Wolf Down The Earth.
The drummer steals the show again in the ten-minute tour de force of The Art Of Dying, a complex fantasia that throws in a myriad different ideas,
perhaps the peak of their career.
However, some songs are trivial repetitions of the same ideas
(the seven-minute The Way Of All Flesh),
and sometimes reduced to just banging and screaming (Yama's Messengers).
By this time they were climbing the sale charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
L'Enfant Sauvage (2012) set their new record of sales, despite being
a bland imitation of the previous one, with only a couple of innovative songs
(Explosia and Mouth of Kala), only one that is truly crushing
(Pain Is A Master) and only one that creates a truly gothic atmosphere
(Born In Winter).
Magma (2016) further diluted the "prog" element and concentrated on the melodic element, thereby coining their own fusion of stoner-rock and pop-metal
(Silvera) while becoming even more emotional, almost pathetic and
funereal in The Shooting Star and The Cell.
It was another commercial success.
By now Gojira were one of the most popular metal bands in the world.
Fortitude (2021) is even less original, at best
a tribute to Sepultura
(Amazonia, which begins like a Cramps-ian voodoobilly).
They increasingly move out of the metal genre:
Fortitude is a subdued swamp-blues, The Chant a bluesy singalong,
and The Trails even an atmospheric ballad.
Another World has metal guitars, but it's mainly about the operatic chorus.
The only song that is reminiscent of the seismic prog-metal of their classic albums is Born For One Thing.
The hardest hitting song is the closer,
Grind, basically the metal version of war-front explosions (although it ends like a campfire singalong), followed by
the panzer attack of Into The Storm.
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