Review Summary: French high IQ-metallers Gojira release another competent album that pushes the envelope on areas of musicianship, but they are still showing occasional hiccups in songwriting.
I once saw these guys open for In Flames. It was a weird experience, considering these guys don't sound like In Flames by any means, but they impressed me with their live presence and most of all their incredibly high standards of musicianship. They used loads of tempo changes on top of loud, groovy riffs that made headbanging a chore but it is still some amazingly heavy music (not far from what Meshuggah tend to play nowadays.) Also of note is that these guys are French but actually know enough English to sing in it, which is interesting because usually the French aren't that gratuitous with their foreign languages.
So they were on tour supporting this here album, The Way of All Flesh, and this here album sounds much like the way they do live, also taking cues from the previous From Mars to Sirius musically. Gojira have a very weird sound, that it seems they took their basic blueprint from Meshuggah, but went and did some other things with it. For a first, their riffs are less thrashy and more based on groove; there is still some more uptempo drumming to be found (Toxic Garbage Island is a notable example). For a second, they have more atmospherics and electronics floating around than Meshuggah do. Whereas Meshuggah go for the low-notes wall of sound and use that to create a mechanic atmosphere, Gojira plunge into bits of guitar feedback and weird *** that pops up every here and there during the album to alleviate the grinding metal parts.
In comparison to their back catalog this seems to stand out just a little more. Gojira listeners will be familiar with the old mantra that seems to surround their records: "more is less." Gojira have always had a tendency to adhere to that and to put too many songs on their records, spanning the good bits between filler to achieve runtimes over an hour rather than a more conventional 45 minute format. Gojira have an interesting formula, but their monotonous amelodic groove and chug just doesn't offer enough diversity to hold a listener's interest for that amount of time. This album suffers from that too, but there are still hoards of metal gold to be found: "Oroborous", "Toxic Garbage Island", "Vacuity", the title track, they all have some majorly impressive riffs that keep a metal listener's head nodding.
The issue is that because of the non-melodic nature, these riffs make you bang your head when you hear it, but very little of it remains stuck in your head, so that you're forced to sit down with the album multiple times to get it (it's a grower.) On top of that some of the rhythmic changes seem to have a jarring effect; songs seem to hover between different tempos and never make up their mind as to which one they want to stick to. It is a nice listen for musicians, but a casual listener will find the effect distracting and switch to something more accessible and less weird overall. Gojira's main audience were never the corekiddies, but there's a major part of a possible fanbase (considering they have toured with bands like Lamb of God and Chimaira) that is turned off by this indecisiveness. It remains very artistic however; and no one can deny that Gojira have boatloads of musicianship in their arsenal. It's just that the limits they impose on themselves with their musical niche don't allow them to come to complete fruition. They have some amazing parts, amazing songs even, but Gojira still cannot seem to fashion a coherent record throughout their runtime.
That being said it's still a recommended listen for people into this style of music. Gojira possess a high sense of artistry, and also lyrically they are far more esoteric, forsaking politics and human relations to discuss environmental issues. It is almost IQ-metal in that sense it will definitely appeal to fans of Meshuggah, Textures and their ilk. I think tech-death fans (Cynic, Atheist come to mind) will also find lots to like here. It's a record made by musical artists for artistical fans; it has a limited appeal and will seem overdone and monotone to a casual listener, but I think the niche fanbase will find a lot to like here, and sure as hell some of these riffs have some major groove. Let's hope Gojira figures it out on the next one.
good review but i have one notable complaint: you compare/contrast them with Meshuggah too much. While i have yet to hear this album, their last two are too far removed from Meshuggah's sound to be compared.This Message Edited On 10.27.08
the meshuggah comparison works because gojira, like meshuggah, are centred around manipulating rhythm rather than melody. this album does that too. their sound is farther removed from meshuggah nowadays than it used to be, but i definitely hear a lot of meshuggah in them.
@mcp3000: listening to this album is a weird experience, seeing them live was a weird experience, hence...it's a rating.This Message Edited On 10.27.08
Yeah, this is sweet, definitely better than FMtS, but it still drags it's ass quite a bit in a lot of places. Thing is there's just a lot more here to like and it's spread out enough that I can listen to this all the way through without getting bored (well, except for the last 13 or so minutes).
Thought this was gonna be better, I seem to not like the style that style that much. Like Meshuggah, Textures (enjoyed that for a bit) and this... It worthwhile parts, but it ends up being quite boring now an then.
i will admit that the album has a little too much filler, but the filler creates some atmosphere in the album, and it sounds like a more natural transition between some songs, but some songs do drag on a little (like the last few minutes of the art of dying)
main reason why i'm not rating it a 5, but the musicianship has improved a lot
really good review, enjoyed reading it. i don't get why people always call gojira intellectual. their environmental lyrics were hardly sophisticated, and even somewhat awkward ("We are taking everything for granted
The reason their lyrics aren't as sophisticated as they could be is because Gojira are French and don't have such an impressive command of English. It's good enough for lyrics, but I think they'd come across better in French for the general point.
Though I think the high IQ is also in the musicianship. I saw them live, the drummer is fucking insane.
I once saw these guys open for In Flames. It was a weird experience, considering these guys don't sound like In Flames by any means, but they impressed me with their live presence and most of all their incredibly high standards of musicianship. They used loads of tempo changes on top of loud, groovy riffs that made headbanging a chore but it is still some amazingly heavy music
Had the same experience with them with my dad, cept they opened for Behemoth. Good review.
Just picked this up two days ago, listened to it three times and it's actually really good. Not very memorable like you said upon first listen Altmer, but excellent stuff nonetheless.This Message Edited On 11.09.08