» Blog Archive Review: Gojira's Methodical, Organic Magma -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Streaming

Gojira magmaWith a name like Gojira, you need to be capable of owning up to the 100-meter creature you take inspiration from. Since their inception in 1996 as Godzilla, and changing their name to Gojira in 2001, the French progressive death metal band has gone on to become a major, heavy-hitting band on the forefront of the scene. From Mars to Sirius, the band’s 2005 concept album, helped put their name on the map of the genre, whereas The Way of All Flesh in 2008 helped them reach a wider audience, resulting in 2012’s L’Enfant sauvage cementing them as juggernauts, Gojira’s career has been nothing short of amazing to watch rise.

2016 has finally brought Magma from the band, which has seen the band reschedule numerous times. Originally expected to drop in 2015, the band claimed that they kept constantly writing great songs as the reason for the delay. While this is great news, one can easily agree that this may have resulted in the band generating an insurmountable amount of hype. Thankfully, if singles like “Silvera” were any indication, Gojira were able to deliver (To an extent) in the build-up to this album’s release.

Magma is, interestingly enough, Gojira’s most organic album. Any fan of the band can tell you that the band is among the most eco-friendly, as the band is vocal about supporting and healing the environment, with frontman Joe Duplantier even being a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Much in line with the rest of their discography, you’ll find songs like “Stranded” featuring a heavy, environmental message, which adds to the experience in a way by using the damaged Earth and how it’s being mutilated by humanity in the most metal of ways for a poetic, if harrowing, lyrical subject.

Gojira 2016While the singles may convey a feeling that Gojira is truly back and are going to be delivering a traditionally-Gojira album, everything in between could not be more adventurous for the band. Magma shows an aging progressive death metal band weeding out their death metal influence in favor of the more progressive elements, at times, while still falling into what their own conventions. The most obvious change made is that Joe Duplantier is singing and using a less harsh voice now more often. “The Shooting Star” and the title track, as such, forego the growls entirely. That’s not to say they’re unenjoyable (They are) but the change shows the band take a more methodical approach to their music, which echoes throughout the entire runtime.

Even with the change in sound creeping in, Gojira still deliver on the groove-heavy death metal front that fans know them primarily for. In the album’s short, 42-minute length, (the band’s shortest) you get the already-mentioned “Silvera” and “Stranded,” while “Pray” picks things up after the lower-dynamic title track, and “The Cell” should raise eyebrows of all the fans well-versed in the fan’s discography pre-2005; the song is something of a throwback to the band’s stylings on The Link.

Gojira strandedSo much of the album is worth discussing, including the two instrumental tracks that make up the short tracklisting, but if one thing can be said about the album, it’s that it buckles under its own weight. Magma isn’t a bad package, as it is quick, to the point, and less intimidating compared to the band’s previous works. However, there is no doubt a ridiculous amount hype riding on it, as it’s coming  from a band with a noteworthy discography such as Gojira. Things haven’t changed much, as Mario Duplantier is still one of the greatest drummers of our time and Christian Andreu is still sickeningly tight on guitar, yet it’s not perfect overall or face-melting as many would hope for. “Low Lands,” while enjoyable, has moments of boredom and is the track I found myself zoning out on the most. Even in instances like “The Shooting Star,” I found room for improvement. Whereas Joe’s clean vocals fit nicely in the band’s previous discography as they were used more sparingly, them taking a step forward in the band’s bag of tricks seems to leave them slightly monotone. Perhaps this is only the beginning of what Gojira is capable with clean vocals, however if they had a bit more range and variety to them, it would be more attention grabbing.

Organic, methodical, and straight to the point, Magma shows Gojira playing around with their sound and exploring more possibilities in the course of an album. The band is no stranger to a varied sound, however it seems to take the forefront on this release. Perhaps not as great as the hype would make it be, Magma is still a stronger release than many albums that have (And will) come out this year. It builds, it changes, and it evolves as it goes on, leaving one to wonder where it is Gojira are going and what they’re eventually going to evolve into.

Gojira’s Magma is available today.


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