Four years have passed since we last heard from Gojira and that’s fairly standard for this talented band. While I think “L’Enfant Sauvage” is one of their strongest albums, the one complaint I had was that it didn’t break any new ground. The songs were all really good, the playing was stellar. In short, that album was business as usual for the band.
With their new album “Magma,” Gojira changed things on a few levels. The band relocated to NYC from Bayonne, France and built their own studio there. Also, tragedy struck when Joe and Mario Duplantier’s mother fell ill and passed away. The sound of “Magma,” while still being very much Gojira, is a huge step forward for the band. Gone are the standard pinch harmonics and in their place, very odd yet catchy riffs, some of which are run through interesting effects. See the main riff on “Stranded” for an example.
Joe’s vocals are also different at times. While his standard angry tone is still very much in place (you can’t really call it a harsh vocal or growl), he has developed a clean style that reminds me at times of Jaz Coleman from Killing Joke or Snake from Voivod. In fact, the somewhat post-punk vibe on the opening track “The Shooting Star” reminds me a lot of Killing Joke, both vocally and musically. I love Killing Joke so that works for me.
The mellower “Low Lands” is another track that benefits from his more confident vocal style. The title track is another favorite of mine which has a completely new feel and sound that I wouldn’t have expected from Gojira. Joe’s lyrics are always about his view on the world, the environment and things that should matter to the human race. This album has some of his best.
The two complaints I have are that two songs seem a bit like filler. The acoustic closer “Liberation” feels like a bit of a let down and doesn’t have the same emotion as the rest of the songs. “Yellow Stone” is basically a solo for bassist Jean-Michel Labadie that never really does anything. Neither add much to the album and I would’ve liked another rocking track. Still, the album has great songs like “Silvera” and “Pray” that will please any fan of the band. These are killer riffs with great arrangements.
The hooks are stronger than ever on “Magma.” I really think this is the album that could bring them a larger audience. With that, I’m sure it will piss off fans that still want another “Terra Incognita” or something. Gojira have made another quantum leap in their music which hasn’t happened since “From Mars to Sirius.” This is a career defining album just like that one. Gojira are progressing once again and I love it!
1. The Shooting Star
3. The Cell
5. Yellow Stone
8. Only Pain
9. Low Lands