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Gojira - Magma CD (album) cover

MAGMA

Gojira

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.89 | 121 ratings

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Insin
3 stars Gojira's latest is a bit underwhelming. Simplified, often less heavy, and less energetic, it still checks all the boxes so to speak, but it's woefully inconsistent. At times it's forcefully aggressive, and other times it channels slower, mediocre groove metal, complete with chugs and forgettable (and even annoying) riffs, Gojira's quality fluctuates with their differing levels of heaviness, and with both their experimentation and lack thereof.

Magma sounds a lot like Mastodon in places, but instead of doing a fill every other measure the drummer plays off the chugging guitars, and sometimes that's the only way to really tell them apart. It's definitely in some of the riffing, but the clean vocals really create this similarity. The singing that possibly makes up a majority of the vocals doesn't have much feeling to it, even though it's performed well otherwise. Gojira's strong point doesn't seem to be the relative softness and slowness of pure groove metal, or sludginess either.

A few of the songs have promisingly heavy sections, but they typically end up sputtering out. None of the main riffs are particularly strong, vicious, or memorable, and the rest end up just being chugs. I hear some polyrhythms in songs such as The Cell or Low Lands but the way they are performed makes it seem like Gojira is including them just to fulfill requirements, and they are integrated in disappointingly bland ways and without much passion. Most of the album is in 4/4 anyway.

The two instrumentals on this album take up a small percentage of Magma's runtime but they emphasize the lacking nature of this album and how Gojira doesn't seem to know exactly what they're going for. Neither of them are the sort of wanky prog instrumentals composed just to show off the musicians' talents, they are rather interludes and segues although they don't even seem to accomplish that. Any subpar doom or groove metal band could've jammed out Yellow Stone, hit record, and slapped on some cool effects. It's not even a proper interlude because it still sounds like the rest of the album. Liberation could've been a decent intermission, but instead it closes the album, a choice I don't understand. It sounds different from the rest of Magma, some acoustic noodling and hand percussion played together to get an ambient, chill vibe. Low Lands actually had a bit of buildup and it's one of the more memorable tracks, more atmospheric, but it doesn't seem as though it deserves a coda.

As much as it may seem like I've shat all over this, it's really not that bad. Magma is proving to be a grower, as others have said about the singles. Despite inconsistency in quality, it's good to hear that Gojira can write slightly different styles of songs. Still, there's not a whole lot going into this. They're still trying to fulfill all the requirements for their sound but it's lacking the complexity, the heaviness, and most importantly, much of the inspiration.

Top tracks: Silvera, Low Lands

Insin | 3/5 |

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