You know you’ve hit a milestone of some sort when your kids start hipping you to new bands. It seems like it was only yesterday I was reliving my youth by purchasing classic OG pressings of thrash and speed metal albums on vinyl, and sharing that nostalgia with my then 10-year old son. We’d jam out to Slayer, Anthrax, Metallica, and Megadeth like it was 1987 all over again.
But now that he’s 16-years old and a budding musician he’s branching out from the speed metal family tree. He’s introduced me to Gojira. Gojira is a French heavy metal band that formed in 1996. Their music tows the line between math rock, progressive, and good old speed metal. There’s elements of Bay Area thrash, technical metal like Dream Theater, with a distinct Euro flavor. Their latest album, Fortitude, is a mixture of everything they’ve pulled influence from in well over twenty years together, and might be there best album yet.
The band consists of brothers Joe(vocals, rhythm guitar) and Mario(drums) Duplantier, along with lead guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie. Their records are consistently heavy while being these technically brilliant works of music. On their last album, 2016s Magma, the sound became less extreme as the brothers processed the loss of their mother. With Fortitude, the sound continues to evolve while becoming more of a hopeful experience.
Album opener “Born For One Thing” is an all-out blast of unrelenting metal. Gojira has always had a groove to their metal and it’s prominent here. The rhythm section is a machine, chugging away allowing the guitars to create this amazing atmosphere. The vocals howl, while the chorus cleans up nicely. “Another World” is another groove-heavy song, putting the double kick attack in the backseat for a more detailed rhythmic feel. “Sphinx” is an assault on the senses, with some interesting guitar touches that sound more RATM than Morbid Angel.
I want to point out one song in-particular. “The Trails” is tacked on as the second to last song and feels like a step into new directions and sounds. It’s heavy while being melodic and almost melancholy. Gothic, space-y, and a sound that could echo a whole new era for Gojira.
This isn’t to say my days of musical influence are done with my son, but it’s good to know I can still discover new bands well into middle age. Maybe that says something about my parenting that my kid is hipping me to good stuff these days. Anyways, Gojira feel like a natural progression for heavy metal. They seem to be evolving extreme music while staying true to the “heavy” in heavy metal. Fortitude is both a visceral and intellectual record. It hits where it counts.
7.9 out of 10