Review Summary: Possibly Gojira's most underrated album, The Link perfectly displays a fusion of the band's heavy brutality and progressive artistry.
So... a metal band from France?! Other than fellow Frenchmen Loudblast, that's practically unheard of. Even now, any kind of rock is still very uncommon in the country. However, Gojira are a band that rise to the occasion and can topple over most of the metal acts we see/hear today.
Admittedly, Gojira's first album Terra Incognita, while still solid, suffered from a few inconsistencies. First among them (and most common among many bands) was that they hadn't fully found their sound yet. Also, some parts and experiments were either very awkward or very mismatched in execution. With The Link, though, Gojira have seemed to break away from these issues and have released an album that's fully unique in the metal world.
With the album, you can immediately tell that the band now use more variation to their advantage, bringing a more progressive style and ultimately keeping things fresher. Some sections are very odd for a death/thrash metal band, including the ambient style of the two major interludes "Connected" and "Torii." The former uses a tribal aesthetic, which would be utilized more in the future with the band. The latter has a very soothing quality with a very calm, warm guitar sound to it.
Now, we get to the metal. Wow, how to describe some of it... If you guess that it's brutal, then you're right... but it'd be a MASSIVE understatement. When Gojira need heaviness, they immediately go to work and don't play around. Let's take "Remembrance" for example. After the slow, tribal "Connected," this track comes bursting out at full force and never lets up. One has to commend Gojira for their precision as well. The biggest example is Mario Duplantier, who has an amazing display of variety and speed mixed in with precise machine-gun double bass drumming, almost reminding one of Thomas Haake of Meshuggah.
There's also the single, "Indians," which continues in a typical Gojira fashion, and yet adds the aforementioned tribal elements for quite a nice surprise. The song is also quite progressive, bringing in many off-beat fills and riffs along with nicely varied guitar work. The ending section probably displays the band's technical abilities better than any other part of the album.
If there's a member of this band that's understated, it'd have to be Christian Andreu, the lead guitarist. When he shines, he uses so much variety and skill, and yet he isn't heard all that much. He's more of a subtle musician in the band, and normally I'd say that's fine, but sometimes the band goes through some dull spots of repetition. It'd just be cool to find more of his guitar work somewhere in the record.
Those "dull spots of repetition" comprise my biggest gripe about the CD. When Gojira go all out, they really don't let up. However, as Gojira's been criticized heavily about, the album creates some slightly repetitive grooves that can go on for quite a while. Lets use the last track "Dawn." It starts out as a wonderful instrumental that builds up to nicely crafted metal section, but after this, it just sort of... dies. The song gets doomier and darker, and just sulks in repetitive futility for about 4-5 minutes until it fades.
Other than that, though, the rest of the album is fantastic and unique. Gojira's style, blending Thrash, Death Metal, Progressive music, Groove Metal, and experimental music, is very different from most of the bands today. The Link captures those elements perfectly, and is quite a step up from their debut. Highly recommended.
Joe Duplantier - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Mario Duplantier - Drums
Jean-Michel Labadie - Bass
Christian Andreu - Lead Guitar