Review Summary: Brutal, heavy, diverse, and definitely a good indication towards the future of metal.
(Disclaimer: to any French person out there whom my ignorance may insult, please accept this humble apology right away)
The French metal scene has almost always been exclusively, well, French. For a band to be able to establish such great levels of fame from that scene is quite rare, and it is no easy feat. Just looking at Gojira’s background as one of the most successful French metal bands is already an impressive accomplishment on their part. Frankly, after listening to 2006’s “From Mars To Sirius”, you really shouldn’t feel that surprised. Frankly, this album is amazing, with pretty much zero filler, and each song adds in something new to the album.
Gojira has already established a large reputation based on their dedicated musicianship as well as for their heavily rhythmic-based death metal. They’re known for utilizing rapid waves of double-kicks, extremely precise beats, and the ultimate groove in their music. “From Mars To Sirius” is no exception, however, rather then repeating what occurred during “The Link”, it decides to expand, progress, and push into new musical territory.
As many know, this is a concept album with a fairly simple storyline. A character witnesses the end of the world, realizes that he can’t live here anymore, so he searches for the flying whales who teach him to fly and build worlds. He then journeys on, stopping by a planet filled with beautiful trees and nature, and learns from it, and uses it as a template for the new world that he plans on making, once he reaches Sirius C, and then he meets the Master Race who teaches him how to restore life to a world. Fairly simple, and the message rings clear: Don’t screw up this planet.
“From Mars To Sirius” is certainly a breakthrough album for them, and it’s certainly an improvement from “The Link”. Introduced now are more prog elements, as well as more emphasis on atmospheric tones. Gojira will still play brutally pummeling metal, but it can still soften up and allow lighter melodies to emerge. Heck, Joe Duplantier actually sings here, and not singing as in sounding like a drunkard or a constipated guy like on “the Link”, but actually sing, and sing well. He bellows his heart out on “Ocean Planet”, a song also known for its extreme precision and exciting groove. Then, on “World to Come”, he’ll alternative clean singing and more harsh singing so well that you’ll think that Brent and Troy from Mastodon are singing along with him. Then later, on tracks like “Global Warming”, which features quite nice guitar taps, he’ll bellow with a voice reminiscent of an earlier Corey Taylor’s hardcore growl, only with a much clearer and brutal death metal influence. Meanwhile, on tracks like “From the Sky”, he’ll combine his growl with his singing to create a rather fearsome, yet melodic, display of vocals, which only help add to the intensity of the track, without getting too irritating.
Enough of Joe Duplantier, let’s look at the rest of the band. First off, his brother, Mario, is a pretty damn good drummer. All through this album, he’s just playing a ton of rapid blast beats and double-kicks. There are other songs where his drumming is more prominent, and impressive, such as in “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe”, where the song derives its intensity mostly from Mario’s breakneck precision. Then, on other songs, like “Flying Whales”, he’s perfectly content with not just banging on those drums for the purpose of being loud, but actually creating a fine rhythm, complemented with some nice cymbal taps. And the best part: he doesn’t overdo it like Mastodon did on Blood Mountain!
Mario’s drumming is perfectly complemented by the rest of the band, Christian and Jean-Michel. This album features absolutely no guitar solos, but for Gojira, that’s not really a bad thing, because to put it simply, guitar solos would have taken away from the spirit of Gojira’s music. As a result, there’s not a lot of technicality in the instrumentals. The bass is noticeable, but often only in a small amount, such as in the beginning of “Global Warming”, which as a friend of mine described it, could have been written by a drunk monkey, which as a result, is one of its flaws. The instrumentals are more melodic than the “The Link”, but still not bursting with melody, but as I said before, that’s really not in the style of Gojira. The guitar work done in “Global Warming” is still fairly nice, and it really helps add to the diversity of the album. Meanwhile, the opening instrumentals from “Flying Whales” are taken straight from the playbook of Tool, but done so that it would still retain their own sound, rather than simply ripping off Tool like how so many bands do nowadays.
Overall, this is definitely a well-balanced and well-done album. Sure they may sound a lot like Mastodon at times, but you know what, I’m still sure that Mastodon, in terms of what I heard from Blood Mountain, easily falls short of what Gojira does. Overall, this album helps show just far Gojira has come, and how much they’ve achieved. It’s definitely an album to look out for, and they’re certainly one of the best metal bands to have ever emerged from France.
From the Sky
Where Dragons Dwell
The Heaviest Matter Of the Universe