Let’s set something straight right from the start. In this writer’s opinion French metallers Gojira are the best band of their genre to appear in the past decade. Original, progressive, intelligent, thought-provoking and heavy as hell, they have set the bar high. So it’s with much anticipation that I welcome their 6th album, Magma.
Things kick off with the formidable opening chords of The Shooting Star, a melodic stomp that quickly leads to the album’s first surprise. Joe Duplantier’s vocals on this opening track are unlike anything you’ve heard from him previously. With less venom in his delivery and more harmonies, there are more similarities to the last Ghost album than anything from Gojira’s back catalogue. But it works. This is a band that has always taken its own path and tried to push the boundaries of the metal genre and it’s interesting to see them begin a record with something unexpected.
The immediate ferocity of Silvera will appease long term fans with its jagged riffs and widescreen soundscapes. The harmonies remain, particularly on the chorus, but Duplantier is already beginning to sound more like the angry Frenchman we know and love. The pace quickens for The Cell before a Meshuggah-like guitar stomps into the verse, while Stranded is Gojira at their pummelling finest. Head-bangingly heavy with Christian Andreu’s squealing guitar sounding as mighty as ever.
Yellow Stone is a brief instrumental that sounds more like an unfinished demo before the album’s title track sees Gojira once again in unfamiliar challenging territory with new guitar melodies and a haunting vocal that gives this 7 minute epic an almost hypnotic vibe.
After the twists and turns of Magma, Pray is Gojira at their immense, brutal best. Dark and brooding this is one that will satisfy long-term fans and new fans alike. Where many bands may need to save the filler tunes for the end of the record, Only Pain and Low Lands make it evident that this was never going to be an issue for the Bayonne four-piece. Joe’s clean vocals on the latter show how comfortable he now feels in his roll as vocalist.
By this point I can confirm that this album is quite simply a masterpiece. It challenges the listener and pushes the boundaries more than ever before but will not disappoint metalheads looking for something poundingly heavy. It’s full of surprises, not least of which is the gentle acoustic guitar and soft percussion that announces the arrival of closer, Liberation. It ends proceedings on a gentle if somewhat anticlimactic note but one that feels positive after the rage that raises its head throughout the rest of the album.
As a long time fan, Magma reignites my respect for Gojira. Expect the unexpected. They remain the most exciting metal band on the planet in 2016.
01. The Shooting Star
03. The Cell
05. Yellow Stone
08. Only Pain
09. Low Lands
Gojira play Metropolis in Montreal on October 21st. Support comes from Tessaract.
Review – Steve GerrardShare this :