It was a perfect spring evening last Tuesday in Sterling Heights when Alternative Metal giants Deftones brought their tour to town. The sun was shining, and the birds were singing when a line of traffic started to form outside the Michigan Lottery Amphitheater. Cars were bumper to bumper as they tried to squeeze their way into the sold-out show at this Detroit suburb open-air venue. The opening act of the tour, VOWWS, could not make the gig so the second band on the roster, the mighty Gojira opened up the night.
Twenty-plus years into a career doing anything in the world might make you take your foot off the gas pedal, especially an industry as brutal as the music industry. However, Manitoba’s Comeback Kid continue to challenge themselves to keep refining their sound, and sharpening their focus over a series of releases. The bands’ new album Heavy Steps (Nuclear Blast/New Damage) shows the veteran band of the scene lifting up the rest of us up with defiant music set on highlighting what makes life worth fighting for. uniting us.
Northeastern Indiana may not be the first area that would come to mind when considering a hotspot for art and culture. Yet Fort Wayne’s Clyde Theatre is a state-of-the-art facility that presents and celebrates some of the world’s greatest artists. Originally a movie house from the fifties, this recently renovated theatre carries a vibrant vintage vibe making it a local gem to the surrounding area. The place was lit with life last Sunday evening when hundreds of metal lovers swarmed through the venue’s historic doors. The French Extreme Metal act, Gojira was in town. These modern metallers have been on US soil for the last couple of months promoting their new album, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records, read our review here), which came out this past Spring. Fort Wayne was their third to last stop on this run, yet they made it clear they would be back state-side very soon. Over the last few years, Gojira is a group that has heated things up for the scene. They brought two new budding bands on tour to complement their fire. Alien Weaponry and Knocked Loose have their own high temperatures to give off, which ignited an evening of feverish and fantastic excitement. Continue reading →
It should be clear by now that inertia and complacency are words that simply don’t exist in the vocabulary of French progressive death metal act Gojira, and with the latest album Fortitude (Roadrunner Records) the band have made some of their biggest and most diverse strides to date.
It’s the hottest day of the year. Stepping outside feels like walking into a furnace, and the pollen count is so high that even the bees are saying “yeah, that’s enough, thanks”. All because apparently, the sun has arbitrarily decided that in the space of twelve hours, everyone in the UK has to die by melting.Continue reading →
Covers are a funny thing in music. Nowhere else in art is this level of flattery both respected and derided. Copies or recreations of painting or sculpture are often labeled as “influenced by” or worse, a forgery. All the remakes Hollywood keeps ramming our eyeholes with are mostly flaming hot garbage at summertime in New York City. With cover songs, the best ones are often not a note for note recreation of the original, unless it is an underrated artist or a little known song. From ‘Yesterday” to ‘Cum On Feel The Noise’, Covers have earned a place in our musical culture not only as a novelty. Others can take a well-known song and take it to new heights. Mastodon has done some stellar covers (‘The Bit’ from Melvins, ‘Emerald’ by, Thin Lizzy) and has now added all-time classic rock anthem ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin to the mix. Done in tribute to their late manager Nick John on the Stairway To Nick (Reprise Records) 10″ single for Record Store Day 2019, since Nick was a massive Zep fan. Tragically he passed away after a bout with pancreatic cancer in 2018. Mastodon will donate the proceeds from this release to research for that very disease. You can actually say they did it “because Nick John would have wanted it that way”. And you’d be right. He’d be touched. Continue reading →
This past year will go down as one of triumph over tragedy, more so than any other recent memory. It seems that across the board suffering in the world and on a personal level has been paramount in people’s minds. The same can be said for French metal gods Gojira, whose Magma (Roadrunner)is nothing short of brilliance, created from a place of angst and suffering on a level the band hasn’t dealt with before. Not only is it is a technical and artistic marvel, it stands apart on an emotional level for the creators, as well as the listener. The if the best art is made from a well of pain, Gojira hit the bottom of the well and came through an ocean on the other side to get here. Continue reading →
After losing their mother to cancer in 2015, brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier of Gojira have had to dig deeper than they would have ever wanted to write the follow up to 2012’s much lauded L’Enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner), and this unfortunate event has clearly been at the heart of all aspects of their latest release. From Magma‘s (Roadrunner) muted grayscale artwork to the the record’s lyrical themes and pervading feeling of solemnity, this is a piece of work driven not only by grief but by grim determination.
Reading this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that listening to the album would be a thoroughly depressing experience, but while the background to the record is certainly not the happiest, the music contained within is inherently Gojira. Just a more thoughtful, ambitious and expressive one.
Joe Duplantier turns in what is surely a career best vocal performance, his familiar throaty roar sitting naturally besides quieter and somewhat surprisingly more vulnerable tones, adding further depth and texture which allows the band to wander organically from their familiar path without ever sounding jarring or overtly calculated.
Drummer Mario Duplantier excels himself, driving some songs with fierce, occasionally scarily complicated jazz-infused rhythms while allowing others the space and time to breathe by either keeping it simple or backing off completely. Second guitarist Christian Andreu complements his counterpart’s playing as perfectly as ever, and oft-forgotten hero, bass player Jean-Michel Labadie plays his heart out, even taking centre stage with the short Sabbath-esque instrumental ‘Yellow Stone’.
There’s a big Angel Rat (MCA) era Voivod influence on opener ‘The Shooting Star’ and title track ‘Magma’, while ‘Stranded’ and ‘Only Pain’ feature the screeching cat guitar sound that Dimebag Darrell employed in Pantera‘s ‘Becoming’, only with a typically Gojira twist. Songs like ‘Pray’ and ‘Low Lands’ build patiently before exploding with groove-laden, lurching riffs and bursts of speed while ‘The Cell’ is the only song built almost entirely for pace, only slowing down for a mid-paced chorus and yet another crushingly heavy, lumbering riff which it uses to build towards the song’s climax.
Recorded at Silver Cord Studio in New York, a studio designed and owned by Joe Duplantier himself, the band have never sounded better. Each instrument is mixed with crystal clarity and the album flows from one song to another perfectly, its mood ebbing and flowing like the tide as you get swept along by wave after wave of aggression and introspection.
While Magma may not be the record some Gojira fans might have expected, there is no question that this is absolutely the album they should have made. Oppressive, cathartic, and thick with raw emotion (especially lyrically), yet uplifting and far more accessible than you’d believe possible, this collection of songs represents a band at the top of their game, allowing themselves to explore and break down more boundaries, while also serving as a fitting eulogy to the memory of the Duplantier’s mother.