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GOJIRA

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • France


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Gojira biography
Founded in Ondres, France in 1996 (as Godzilla) - Renamed in 2001 - Still active as of 2019

GOJIRA was formed in 1996 in a garage near Bayonne - South East of France - under the original moniker GODZILLA. The motivations of the DUPLANTIER brothers
(Joe on guitar/lead vocals and Mario on drums) and their band fellows Jean-Michel LABADIE (on bass) and Christian ANDREU (guitar) were less than sophisticated. But even through the thinnest booklet of their first demo cover issued under the predictable title "Possessed" there still emerged the first signs of their future emancipation.

GODZILLA might have been a big green monster smashing down cardboard buildings, taken from Japanese science-fiction films from the 60s deemed out of style today, but it was also a metaphor about the threat of nuclear weapons with which man plays, unconscious of the consequences.

Due to legal rights, GODZILLA changed its name to GOJIRA right before their first album,2001's "Terra Incognita".GOJIRA is in fact the Japanese translation of its original name. Even though the music had already changed, the way of doing things stayed the same. So call it whatever you want: an ecological thought, a politically correct speech, a 50% new age and 50% hippy mentality. The band, itself, remains the same since birth.

After more than 300 concerts in France and abroad, and a live DVD which sold 2500 copies nationally without the support of a "big" distributor and after the recognition from the public for their 2003 release "The Link", it was about time for GOJIRA to explode...which is currently happening.

Recorded at home in the studios of the Milans,"From Mars to Sirius",released in 2005, is an album of revolt, where ancestral forces of dragons are mentioned, the ocean shows its anger and all codes are red lighted. An album where action has taken over speech. Revolution is coming. So take a step ahead of it before it crushes you.

Highly recommended for fans of brutal yet technically complex progressive metal.

Partial Source:http://www.gojira-music.com/

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GOJIRA discography


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GOJIRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 54 ratings
Terra Incognita
2001
3.63 | 59 ratings
The Link
2003
4.05 | 223 ratings
From Mars to Sirius
2005
4.15 | 229 ratings
The Way of All Flesh
2008
3.85 | 115 ratings
L'Enfant Sauvage
2012
3.87 | 108 ratings
Magma
2016
3.58 | 24 ratings
Fortitude
2021

GOJIRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GOJIRA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.89 | 8 ratings
The Link Alive
2004
4.57 | 7 ratings
The Flesh Alive
2012

GOJIRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

GOJIRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Gojira/Kvelertak Live
2013

GOJIRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fortitude by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.58 | 24 ratings

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Fortitude
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Rising again like its namesake icon, the French extreme metal band GOJIRA is back with its seventh studio album FORTITUDE which finds the band further exploring hitherto unpursued sonic palettes like few others in the world of metal who more often than not become fairly cozy in a comfort zone. This head banging quartet of Joe Duplantier (vocals, guitar), Mario Duplantier (drums), Christian Andreu (guitar) and Jean-Michel Labadie (bass) has never been one to rest on its laurels and although GORJIRA has taken a somewhat more accessible, dare i say even more commercial route on its previous album "Magma," somehow this quartet successfully maintains its core integrity of infusing the disparate metal subgenera of death metal, groove metal and alternative metal into one cauldron of hot steaming sonic sensationalism.

It's been a five year break since "Magma" and the metal world has changed a lot getting even weirder and more diverse but somehow GORJIRA continues the path of exploring new sonic textures while maintaining the energetic chugging drive, extraordinary musical dexterity and metal hybridism. What's new on FORTITUDE is that the band takes the previous alternative metal approach that debuted on "Magma" and branches out into myriad directions thus creating a delightful mix of moods, dynamics and rhythmic bombast unlike any other album in its canon. While the progressive excesses of the first two albums have long been tamped down as well as the epic progressive feel of the following pair of albums that followed, FORTITUDE still stays connected to all those previous eras while exploring a more varied range of timbres, tones, echo effects and production values.

While many have long written off this band as some sort of sellout, i personally find these later albums to be quite dynamic as they provide instantly catchy metal hooks in the classic sense while exploring various detours into moments of clean vocal progressive rock, Pantera-esque groove metal as well as the intense urgency of a Rage Against The Machine album most likely courtesy of engineer Andy Wallace who worked with that band as well as Nirvana thus giving that angry 90s grunge feel at times. And of course it wouldn't be a GOJIRA album without a plethora of polyrhythms where barrages of guitar riffs, pummeling percussion and bantering bass grooves provide crushing metal monstrosities while Joe Duplantier brazenly belts out his soul crushing screams.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference for FORTITUDE is the production and the heavy uses of atmospheres which provides the perfect counterpoint to the galloping grooving guitar riffs and the incessant guitar sailing that accompanies. As far as tempo changes go, FORTITUDE may not embrace the chaotic free-for-all proggy complexities as "Terra Incognita" and "The Link" but still manages to squeeze in a few oddball time signatures between the steady rhythmic drive as well as delivering extreme curve balls as heard on the tribal percussion dominated title track accompanied by unorthodox wordless vocal harmonizing which actually serves as an intro to the following track "The Chant."

When all is said and done i can totally understand why many may not be too thrilled with these easier listening experiences of GOJIRA when compared to the epic and experimental sounds of yore but as far as an accessible melodic metal album is concerned, GOJIRA does an excellent job keeping FORTITUDE engaging from beginning to end in my book. These songs are not only catchy but crafty and creative with subtleties that may require a few spins before really sinking in. I think i actually prefer this one to "Magma" as that previous album didn't quite have the repeat visit enjoyability but this one has just enough ear wormy hooks to signify a respite into its majesty! While i wouldn't call FORTITUDE my all time GOJIRA album by any means, i'm actually quite surprise how much i love this one. What will this monstrous band come up with next? Will we have to wait another five years? Chances are a new phase of the band will begin.

 Fortitude by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.58 | 24 ratings

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Fortitude
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The most immediate problem with Fortitude is that it really lacks a unique identifying "feature" compared to previous Gojira records. Terra Incognita had the raw death metal aggression, The Link had an experimental tribal feel, From Mars to Sirius had an ambitious conceptual feel, and so on. Somehow, Fortitude manages to sound like a synthesis of all of the band's previous albums while lacking the sense of both wonder and impact they all had. Sure, the chugs and technical drumming still come out from time to time, but they're buried beneath Gojira's insistence on playing dull one- note riffs that linger for a little too long. It's not like I'm resistant to the prospect of the band experimenting - again, The Link is a nice example of that - but it's gotta be over a more interesting foundation than this.

For instance, the main riff of "Another World" is pretty cool; Christian Andreu's lead guitar and Jean-Michel Labadie's bass coil around each other to give off a strangely futuristic atmosphere. But then it all falls apart in the verses, which just consist of a boring chugging riff that doesn't go anywhere interesting. It's nice to hear Joe Duplantier still bringing the energy with his screams and growls, but they don't matter much when the material itself is so lacking in heft and intensity. Meanwhile, some songs don't even sound like they came from Gojira at all. When the a cappella harmonies of "Hold On" started, I had to look at my phone to make sure I was still listening to the same band. Indeed, Joe does perform a lot more clean vocals on Fortitude - these are most prominently heard on "Hold On", "The Chant", and "The Trails". And, truth be told, Duplantier has really proven himself to be a capable clean vocalist over the last five years or so. The harmonies in "Hold On" are actually quite beautiful, despite the fact that the song eventually switches to a more typical groovy Gojira track halfway through.

What really drags this album down more than everything else, however, is the production. It's quite strange that Duplantier is the same person who produced Way of All Flesh, as Fortitude has none of the same weight, atmosphere, or clarity in its mix. The guitars sound both muddy and unappealing in the chugging bits (the verses of "Amazonia" for instance), and really flavorless during the melodic sections ("The Trails" in particular). It also does no favors for Mario Duplantier, especially during the more technical tracks like "Grind" and "Into the Storm". He performs some pretty amazing parts during these songs, but all I can think of is how much better they'd sound with a From Mars to Sirius- esque production job. Speaking of "Into the Storm", that very song represents what kind of record Fortitude could have been; the track is a perfect mix of the band's more heavy/technical traits and their melodic tendencies. Sure, the main drum part was lifted from "The Cell" off of Magma to an extent, but the riff played over it is one of the most beautifully melancholic parts I've ever heard from this group.

Fortitude is a strange affair, as its oddities tend to come from Gojira's push toward a more simplistic and mainstream sound. On one hand, I suppose that makes it a logical step after the stripped-down music of Magma; on the other hand, it just doesn't feel natural for some reason. The band's willingness to step outside of their comfort zone is commendable, but if they're keen on committing to this new sound of theirs, they need to give it a little more polish and focus. As it stands, Fortitude is a decent metal record. However, it doesn't really offer anything that Gojira's prior albums haven't done better.

 From Mars to Sirius by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.05 | 223 ratings

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From Mars to Sirius
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars When listening to this album, my immediate thoughts revolve around this album's extremely heavy, groove metal style, amplified by the incredible production. Each song is packed with memorable riffs and a perfect blend of solid groove perfect for headbanging and furious transitions and climaxes, further improved by the production making everything sound even bigger and more spacious, providing a unique quality to them that I feel can't be replicated by many bands. From Mars To Sirius expands on the previous 2 albums by the band, toning down the extremely raw sound the debut brought forth, and the more atmospheric stuff found on The Link, making a more progressive, complex album that still maintains a lot of the previous qualities.

The intro to Ocean Planet conveys the album effectively, with ambient whale noises leading into heavy, droning guitar chords with intense, powerful drumming creating a wall of sound with the only semblance of melody coming from Joe Duplantier's vocals. I find the vocals to be really great in general, having the rough qualities of screaming while still being properly sung to allow some melody. Backbone manages to be even better, coming in with a simple, yet killer riff that keeps switching between groove and instrumental insanity, all culminating in an utter freakout after the first minute that just keeps going on and on, backed up with a solid blast beat. This is definitely one of the better songs on the album, as the main riff sounds so good, and the instrumental interludes are nothing short of incredible. The album continues in a similar fashion, having an extremely unified, groovy, spacey sound. Notable songs are From The Sky, which has a more powerful, epic feel to it, especially the epic chorus and Unicorn, which is absolutely beautiful and enjoyable despite being a minute long interlude.

The best songs on the album however are undoubtedly The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe and Flying Whales. The former starts off guns blazing with a downright labyrinthine riff that never seems to slow down, even when it becomes more traditional in nature, it's still absolutely brutal, all culminating into one of the few uses of clean vocals in the entire album, slowly building in intensity until it completely explodes, leading straight into what I consider to be one of the greatest extreme metal songs out there. Flying Whales begins with a simple, light, yet deeply atmospheric riff, using light guitar tones to set the stage for what's to come. The other elements are slowly introduced, a simple drumbeat combined with a light bassline and whale noises throughout. I love the way this continues for over two minutes, sounding incredible throughout, before it slows down, cuts out, and then a semblance of metal comes in the form of layered guitars in the back that then burst in with an incredibly heavy riff that you'd be very talented to not want to start headbanging to. Not a moment of this song feels wasted or misused, continuing the single riff for quite a while, only breaking it up with with a buildup to the explosion of "Now I can see the whales", all before it becomes chaotic, introducing riff after riff, each more impressive than the last, never letting the listener have a moment of reprieve until the very end, making an absolutely perfect song in every respect.

However, despite the near perfect first side of the album, past Flying Whales does drop off a bit, partially because the listener will be recovering from the rush that the song gave them, but also just because the album has a very set sound that never really varies too much. World To Come is definitely my least favourite song here, as their attempt to have a more melodic song here ends up missing its mark quite considerably and sounding very lifeless. Fortunately, the other attempt of making a more melodic song works absolute wonders, as Global Warming closes off the album in a breathtaking fashion, using a fadeout to absolutely amazing effect and being so emotional.

It's honestly quite unfortunate that the rest of the songs on this side, while definitely not being bad for the most part, just don't sound interesting after already listening to the previous 40 minutes of similar sounding music, leading to it becoming somewhat exhausting. Overall, while I really do love this album in many respects, I believe it should have been cut down by quite a bit. Despite this, the high points are undoubtedly incredible, and I would definitely recommend this album to those who like groove metal and incredibly atmospheric, spacey, ultimately gigantic sounding songs, and find this a good entry point into the band.

Best songs: Backbone, The Heaviest Matter of the Universe, Global Warming, FLying Whales (this one especially)

Weakest songs: World To Come

Verdict: I can't think of listening to an album quite so massive as this one. The majority of riffs are ewual parts spine crushing and awesome, and no matter how many times I listen to it, that production and overall sound is always what impresses me the most about the band. While it can drag in places, I have little doubt in my mind that this is an absolutely great album.

 From Mars to Sirius by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.05 | 223 ratings

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From Mars to Sirius
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Egyptianprog-Fahmy

5 stars 4.7/5 an excellent metal album, great vocals, wow guitar moments, dirty bass riffs and an exceptional drummer (rounded to a 5). One of Gojira's greatest works.

Gojira have always surprised me with their albums, from Mars to Sirius to me, was a journey of whales, oceanplanets, space and planet exploration to global warming. I was instantly hooked. This is an album with a huge song list of metal and I loved every one of them. Yet, if I choose a favorite it would be Global Warming Flying whales, which was the epitome of this exceptional album.

I do not know what to say other than everyone must listen to this album.

 Terra Incognita by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.03 | 54 ratings

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Terra Incognita
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars After spending the latter half of the 90s beginning with their formation as Godzilla, this band from Bordeaux, France changed their name to the Japanese romaji pronunciation of Godzilla which became GOJIRA just before the release of their debut album TERRA INCOGNITA (Latin for 'unknown land') in 2001. While the band was founded by brothers Joe (vocals, guitars) and Mario Duplantier (drums) along with Christian Andrea (lead guitarist) and Alexandre Cornilon (bass), Cornion would be replaced by Jean-Michel Labadie before the first album which has been the same lineup to the present day. While these guys began their journey as a rather run-of-the-mill death metal band with some groove and alternative elements, around the turn of the millennium the floodgates opened and they began adding more progressive and experimental elements to the mix and by the time they debuted their first album, they had acquired a rather unique style in the crowded world of extreme metal.

While still Godzilla, the band cranked out several demos that clearly showed their ties to the thrash metal world of early Metallica, the groove metal world of Pantera and the early thrash likings of Slayer and Sepultura. Somewhere around the time of the name change to GOJIRA though, something happened with the addition of Labadie and the band found an effectively unique chemistry which allowed them to hone their craft rather quickly. TERRA INCOGNITA expands beyond the Morbid Angel death metal with thrash and groove elements and adds alternative, some industrial and even enters progressive metal territory although on this debut they would not be fully ripe in that department for a couple more albums. Despite the lack thereof in comparison to future releases however there are many signs of unorthodox compositional constructs, interesting time signature changes and playful polyrhythms laced with tempo shifts and unexpected deviations from the norm.

While later more progressive albums such as 'From Mars To Sirius' embark on highly progressive workouts wrapped up in a cloak of conceptual storytelling, TERRA INCOGNITA is more of a collection of extreme art metal tracks that are often stylistically unrelated but nevertheless provide glimpses into the expanding progressive tentacles reaching out in myriad directions. Tracks vary in style and approach but crunchy alternative metal riffing in tandem with death metal blastbeat drum abuse is a common strategy for eking out the extreme aggressive fury that GOJIRA so deftly crafts into metal magic none of which is absent on album number one. TERRA INCOGNITA is laced with addictive guitar riffs that are repetitive in nature but vary distinctly from one track with some being bantering bass lines and others registering high in the upper treble range. The bass often provides a groovy counterpoint to the guitar riffing and Mario Duplantier's drumming skills are of the highest magnitude as he attacks the skins in a multitude of playing styles ranging from the straight forward metal beat to full-fledged jazz infused technical workouts.

While Joe Duplantier's vocals typically are utilized in the growly death metal style, he occasionally contrasts with clean vocals as well as semi-spoken segments. I seem to be on the opposite side of the fence than most regarding GOJIRA's under appreciated debut release TERRA INCOGNITA. True that it is not as sophisticated as the more illustrious masterpieces that would follow but taken on its own, this is one extremely tight unit of one brilliant track after another. There is a more freeform 'anything goes' approach to TERRA INCOGNITA. There is the instrumental workout on '04' which takes a siesta away from the death metal brutality and creates a counterpoint workout on strings (as well as other ambient breaks), there is the Korn-esque nu metal sound heard on 'Blow Me Away You(NIVERSE)' as well the strange hypno-space trance interlude of '5988 Trillions De Tonnes.' Also on board is the strange alternative / thrash riffing hybridization of 'Space Time' and bizarre guitar licks that begin tracks such as 'On The B.O.T.A.' GOJIRA really knew how to mix and match various metal elements that leave you wondering exactly what's going on. While this is death metal at its core, it is so much more varied than the average band in the genre. Perhaps too weird for the uninitiated but if you approach this more as extreme death art metal than you would be on the right track. I find this one to be underrated and misunderstood. Excellent debut by this one of a kind band from France! I really love listening to this one.

 Magma by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 108 ratings

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Magma
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Magma" is the 6th full-length studio album by French progressive/groove metal act Gojira. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in June 2016. Itīs been four years since the release of "L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)", but itīs not an unusual release cycle for Gojira as there were also four years between "The Way of All Flesh (2008)" and "L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)". They have always been a meticulous act, who would rather spend a few more years perfecting their material rather than release an album a year they arenīt completely satisfied with.

Stylistically there have been a few changes since "L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)", although Gojiraīs trademark progressive/groove metal style is overall intact. This time around lead vocalist/guitarist Joe Duplantier experiments quite a bit with clean vocals in addition to his more regular raw vocals, and that is pretty new in Gojiraīs musical universe, and it has a great impact on the bandīs sound on "Magma". The tracks are also generally a bit more simple and atmospheric compared to the more riff heavy and often relatively complex structured material of the past.

The change is heard right from the opening track "The Shooting Star", which is quite an atmospheric slow building track featuring clean vocals. "Silvera" follows and is a much more riff heavy and aggressive track though (the main riff is absolutely killer), so itīs not all mellow and melancholic atmospheres. Even the more heavy tracks like "Silvera" and "Only Pain", feature a good portion of atmospheric parts though. Other noteworthy tracks include "Stranded", which features quite the distinct sounding pitchshifter riff ("Only Pain" actually features a very similar sounding riff), and the atmospheric title track, but "Magma" is generally a consistent high quality release.

"Magma" features a powerful and detailed sound production, which suits the material well, and upon conclusion, itīs another intriguing and adventurous release by Gojira. Compared to the preceding releases by the band, itīs a lot more accessible and instantly catchy, and I think thatīll win them a new audience, but donīt make the mistake of thinking this is mainstream hook laden material, because thatīs after all not true. Thereīs still a good degree of complexity in the songwriting and execution of the music, which should ensure that older fans of the band, should be able to enjoy it too. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 The Way of All Flesh by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.15 | 229 ratings

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The Way of All Flesh
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Gojira's The Way of All Flesh is an interesting experiment in producing progressive death metal. It is not an exercise in technical complexity to such an extent that you'd call it technical death metal; rather, it works in some prog metal and prog rock song structures and compositional approaches and motifs into the tunes here. Keeping the emphasis on high-quality compositions rather than technical showboating ensures that, despite being a 75 minute album, it never really drags, with the end result being a release which both brings the death metal thunder and uses it carefully and artfully for maximal effect. Great stuff.
 Magma by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 108 ratings

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Magma
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Magma' - Gojira (74/100)

Gojira remain crushingly heavier than the vast majority of "commercial" metal bands today. That said, Magma lends the impression they've come closer to quiet introspection than ever before. With that, I get the mixed reaction from fans. For whatever reason, I'm reminded of the way The Mars Volta reinvented themselves in 2009 with Octahedron; they're simply taking their essential style down a more subdued path than we're used to hearing from them.

This has been the most interesting time to talk about Gojira at least since the release of The Way of All Flesh in 2008. They had fallen off my personal radar for a few years, and I haven't been enamoured as much with From Mars to Sirius and The Way of All Flesh since around the time the two came out. A polarized reception like Magma's, if anything, seemed like a sign that Gojira might be reinventing themselves in a way that could make them exciting again. A more melodic, atmospheric and airy album could not possibly have been popular with their fanbase, but that's not to say they don't do it really well.

Of any of Gojira's albums, this is definitely the biggest grower-type they've yet released. Because it's not as intensely heavy and urgent as the others, the layers take more time to grow. Considering I've always considered that their sheer heaviness was one of Gojira's best, it really is refreshing to hear them without those extremes. From this, their other defining traits come through more clearly. Their massive-sounding atmosphere still makes it sound like they're recording in an underwater cavern, the progressive grooves are extremely hooky, and the melodic accents carry their weight several times over. Gojira have effectively channelled the same urgency in tighter confines. The writing isn't quite as consistent as it could have been, but there's more than enough solid material here to suggest their change of pace was a good idea.

The mellower (at least relative to past work) approach works well for Gojira's subject this time around. Although their music's almost always related to their personal convictions, Magma draws the music even closer to home. The Duplantier brothers' loss of their mother affected and moved them a ton; it would be more surprising if their next album hadn't been inspired at least in part by that experience. From this, Gojira's most powerful lyrics have inevitably stemmed; even if their clean vocals aren't quite strong enough to deserve such a prominent role on the album, the words and lyrics are powerful enough to sell it through. Even if Magma was inspired by a real-life loss, they still manage to touch upon grander ideas: the afterlife, the loss of love, and the will to carry on in spite of pain. They're not the sort of lyrics you can fully appreciate on paper alone; the music's celestial atmosphere is what gives the words their spiritual weight.

There are a few fantastic songs here. "The Shooting Star" is a slowburning opener that quickly impresses the fact upon the listener that they're in for a subdued Gojira. "Silvera" was the first song I checked out from the album, and it's still probably my favourite, with punchy dark riffs that sound like they were drawn from The Way of All Flesh. "Stranded" has one of the coolest-sounding riffs I've ever heard from the band, and "Low Lands" is a solid way to climax the album, trailed afterwards by the gently acoustic "Liberation". Although the album has definitely grown on me over the course of listens, I have started to feel that Magma is conspicuously frontloaded when it comes to its quality material. All of the songs here are solid, but I find a harder time in remembering great moments from the second half of the record. I support Gojira's subdued evolution, but the lack of standouts nonetheless puts this below their best work. Other than that, there are no gripes to be had with the band's softer approach. The same intensity as always is here-- it just takes a bit more digging on the part of the listener to get it.

 Magma by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 108 ratings

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Magma
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If Gojira's last effort L'Enfant Sauvage presented a more streamlined sound, Magma is the next step in stripping it down. Abandoning the technical death metal sound that got them popular in the metal world might seem like a betrayal to some, but I've always seen Gojira as more of a progressive metal band anyway. They've often eschewed the modern tech-death tag in favor of a sound that, while brutal, is heavily textured and dripping with atmosphere all the same. Gojira's way of combining beautiful textures, chunky riffs, and impressive instrumental skills is simply infectious, especially in albums like The Way of All Flesh and The Link. But Magma is a bit of a different beast, as it opts for an alarmingly simple approach to their signature sound. The groove metal element is still retained, but there's almost a post-metal quality about the way the album is presented. We now have much more buildup and subtle dynamic shifts in many of the tunes, and this is clear right from the slow-burning opener "Shooting Star," a song which immediately brings a sense of minimalism to the forefront. During the verses, a single guitar/bass note is repeatedly being played at the bottom while Joe Duplantier's clear vocals take charge above it. While "Silvera" picks up the pace substantially with Mario Duplantier's technical drumming and swifter guitar chugs, "Shooting Star" is a clear foreshadowing of the album's tone. Speaking of vocals, Joe's clean vocals are much more prominent. Harsh singing is still present, but it's more thrash-based in nature instead of being gravelly; basically Joe's shouted vocals are especially frequent. In any case, it's not like Gojira's technical side has been entirely erased here, as moments like the punchy-yet-melodic "Silvera" or the amazingly intricate polyrhythmic intro of "The Cell" demonstrate.

But strange moments do pop up more than once as a result of the band's stylistic shift. The somber instrumental piece "Yellow Stone" is certainly in character for the band, given how their melancholic guitar-driven interlude "The Silver Cord" from The Way of All Flesh sounded. But it still seems completely crazy that they would place an acoustic ambient/folk song at the very end of the album, especially one that lasts for as long as it does (almost 4 minutes, in this case). But "Liberation" does represent this album's experimentation nicely, and the preceding track "Low Lands" is another odd song that emphasizes a doom-laden atmosphere and somber melodies over outright heaviness. If there are any songs here that represent Gojira's more traditional sound from past albums, they would be "Silvera," "Stranded," and "Only Pain." Here, you get to hear all the intense double-bass drumming, heavy guitar distortion from Duplantier and Christian Andreu, and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie's monstrous grooves. This is most notably heard on the fantastic chorus of "Stranded" which subtly slides into a 6/4-time riff while Joe Duplantier belts out some of his most intense harsh vocals yet. But I feel as though the more adventurous songs are also the most exciting ones; they may seem simplistic at first, but despite (and partially because of) their minimalism, they command the listener's full attention through their subtleties. It would also be sensible to mention the event that likely influenced much of this album's tone and style: the tragic loss of Joe and Mario Duplantier's mother, Patricia Rosa. So the somber and downbeat vibe of Magma would certainly make sense because of this as well. While I don't think this is Gojira's best record, and it definitely seems like a transitional one, it's an incredibly exciting one at the same time. It can be tonally inconsistent once in a while, but the unusual experiments and minimalist songwriting choices definitely stick out in a genre filled with technical wizardry and complexity. Magma may be from a different Gojira than we're used to, but it's still an excellent piece of work.

 Magma by GOJIRA album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.87 | 108 ratings

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Magma
Gojira Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by 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

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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