Review Summary: Terra Incognita is an interesting look at how Gojira began their career, and while it has a slower, simplified imitation of their present day sound, it's ultimately very enjoyable.
I have always admired Gojira. In a world with literally thousands upon thousands of bands churning out regurgitated ideas, it's very difficult to find ones niche within the metal world. However Gojira did exactly that, but not only did they find their own unique sound, they did so with incorporating two of the most hated musical techniques in metal; the breakdown, and the chug. These two key features along with unusual time signatures, and blending elements of essentially every metal sub genre under the sun produced what is now an easily recognizable sound. Gojira didn't always have this sound, however, and while Terra Incognita
retains the fundamental elements of what Gojira is known for, it lacks the more progressive sections that would be featured in later releases. What is left is a more straight forward, more.... death metal album.
The absence of the aforementioned progressive sections may seem disheartening at first, but it oddly works in favor of the album the majority of the time. Simplicity in this instance outshines technicality as the majority of songs featured on Terra Incognita
are some of the best the band has written.
The "more death metal approach" relys almost entirely on mixing the heavier death metal sections with groove elements. All while churning out what are essentially gimmicks to add life to otherwise stagnant tracks. For instance the breakdown at the end of "Love". Though being called a "gimmick" may be somewhat misleading as it certainly isn't a bad thing in this instance. In addition the vocals (which is usually a thrash metal/hardcore punk hybrid) are very low pitch (especially in comparison to their later work).
Although the album is more straight forward, there are still slower sections in the midst of the madness. Instead of relying on some form of ambient effect, Gojira take a more minimalist approach, and often encompass odd percussion techniques, while the guitars often play one long drone of a note, sometimes possessing almost doom metal quality's in them. Some may find these sections boring, and sluggish, but in the end it really adds a lot to the album overall, and never feels monotonous.
In addition to these well placed sections, the production helps stitch together an otherwise disjointed array of songs together, into one vastly enjoyable album, as opposed to an enjoyable set of songs. The production is what I consider perfect for death metal. It's clean, but not squeaky clean, just enough so everything is easily audible, but still sounds raw, and ultimately very heavy.
In hindsight, Terra Incognita
was an outstanding debut, and worth a listen, even if you aren't a fan of Gojira.
Blow Me Away You(Niverse)