For the better part of 15 years Gojira have been never been ones to conform to the usual or ordinary. Instead going the opposite direction, and carving themselves an extraordinary career from being fearlessly different from the others, especially within the death metal genre, one they were quickly lumped into and just as quickly proved to be far more than what they had been labelled. Proving to have creativity in abundance, their last record L’enfant Sauvage saw the band enter a slightly more accessible sound but still retaining the incredible and gargantuan sound that has propelled them to the dizzying heights they now sit atop.
Following on from the commercial success of L’enfant Sauvage was always going to be difficult, but when the death of the Duplantier Brothers mother saw a huge spanner thrown into the mix. Mario Duplantier (drums) and Joe Duplantier (guitar and vocals) make up the majority of the writing force behind Gojira, so having this much turmoil to go through could’ve easily seen the brothers crumble. Instead what they produced is Magma, the brand new and career-defining album from the band that sees all the negativity harnessed and utilised in beautiful and crushing aural assaults.
Not having lost of any of the creativity in their time away, Magma opens with the methodical and cathartic The Shooting Star. It’s an odd choice to open an album with, but it is not that far off Way of All Flesh opener Oroburos, as its epic scale welcomes the listener like the Colossus of Rhodes welcomed weary travellers. It gives way to Stranded, which was the very first taste everyone got of the new album and the simplistic riff serves as a true spotlight on one of the best things about Magma. There is no over-complexity anywhere, the motifs used are clever and subtly intelligent for those looking for it but everything fits together perfectly, crafted with the utmost care and consideration for where it will go on the album.
What Gojira display on not only the opening track but also far more on the stellar title track is a deliberate and far more thought process than ever before. The chorus hits home emotionally through the combination of tremendous lyricism and musicianship. If you were really trying to look for fault, you could point out the minute and a half filler track Yellowstone, but even here the riff is sludgy enough to enjoy its short life span.
Gojira have built a career on blowing expectations out the water. Arriving on the scene with full force and only progressing forward, Magma shows a band that have carved a niche and have worked tirelessly to perfect it. Their sound is expansive and as accessible as ever, but if the mid-song groove in Prey shows anything, it’s that Gojira are as colossal as they’ve ever been and there won’t be a finer metal album released this year. 9/10