Creativity and the ability to adapt hasn’t been a weakness for French rockers Gojira. In their 15 year career, the heavy metal group has contributed to the evolution of the metal genre and produced songs that have defied what the metal sound is supposed to be. Album after album, they have repeatedly explored new sounds and styles, creating one of the more unique acts in metal.
It has been four years since the release of their last album, L’Enfant Sauvage. Now, after much anticipation, their new album Magma has been met with great expectations.
In the years since L’Enfant Sauvage, numerous events have changed the dynamic of the band. Brothers’ Joe and Mario Duplantier lost their mother, inspiring this new release. The raw emotion and feeling of loss experienced with a death are truly felt throughout Magma. For Gojira, a change of scenery also proved to be a positive, as they constructed their own studio in New York where they recorded Magma. That change in location seemed to contribute to the change in sound.
Gojira’s work always seems to incorporate some element of a softer, melodic side even though they are one of the heaviest acts around. This type of progression is shown in Magma to a great extent. “The Shooting Star” does not open in typical Gojira fashion. The song is slower, almost melancholic, with very crisp and precise vocals. It does not possess the intense energy to match the majority of their work, but instead is a much smoother introspection into the feeling behind the album, and possesses much cleaner vocals to make that feeling easily heard.
Lead singer Joe Duplantier carries himself above most. His stirring vocals set the tone for the mesmerizing melodies and sharp rhythms. Listeners begin listening to the album in an almost euphoric state before being struck in the face with by the riffs of “Silvera,” the second track, that sees the pace begin to pick up. This song has a much more aggressive feel with much faster, heavier riffs. The piercing vocals take you all the way to a chorus which will undoubtedly get stuck in your head. It provides a lot of depth that you don’t frequently get from the heavier metal acts. The repetition of the chorus provides an easy listen for someone new to the genre, but the fierce riffs still contribute to the sound and appeal to veteran metalheads. Throughout Magma, the group draws the listener into very hectic territory, delving into a great level of lyrical emotional depth. From the opening track, it’s clear Gojira isn’t going for the conventional album. They give listeners something much more unorthodox, yet equally great.
Although Gojira hasn’t typically been a band that receives much airplay on the radio, a few songs from Magma possess more of that commercial appeal. The album’s fourth track, “Stranded”, has unforgettable riffs, a song that stays true to who Gojira is as a band, but remains a catchy hit. “Stranded” has a chorus that makes fans want to bang their heads, but the simple riff throughout the song makes it one that could be enjoyed on the radio by any fan of music. “Yellow Stone” precedes the title track and acts almost as a break in the album, changing the tone and overall sound. “Magma” is certainly an inquisitive track, starting with a riff that is synonymous with Gojira, then takes on a sound that is unlike their own.
What really sets Magma apart from their previous albums is the length of it. The entire album is just shy of 45 minutes, making it much shorter than their past work. The album does include its epics, with “Magma” clocking in at nearly seven minutes, however the majority of the songs are much shorter and include a greater level of calming guitar work and soothing vocals.
The second half of Magma remains just as strong. “Pray” is one of the heaviest songs on the entire album. “Low Lands” takes its time building up, but emerges towards the end and amplifies its sound. The album wraps up with “Liberation.” This acoustic track is an underrated one, as the instrumentals prove to be a gentle way to conclude the album and the story that it tells.
Magma truly matches the feel of the album as each and every song has a certain flow about it. Each track feels very fluid and follows one another perfectly. It’s dynamic with its change in speed and sudden bursts of incredibly heavy riffs. That dynamic has created one of the most pleasantly surprising albums of the year so far.
Metal | Roadrunner Records