Review Summary: In shedding some of their baggage, Gojira have found purpose. "L'Enfant Sauvage" is the band's strongest outting to date and a fine metal record overall.
Admittedly it has always been a tad ironic that Gojira has been tagged as “progressive,” considering the French metal act is anything but. Almost complacently, the band has clung to its bare-bones “heaviness” with gusto, doing little to truly expand the sound that has made them a powerhouse in the genre. With a passionless delivery Gojira has released four albums, each of which has been met with decidedly polarizing criticism. From Mars to Sirius
has been the band’s most acclaimed record to date, and by far the most experimental, as 2008’s The Way of All Flesh
saw a regression in terms of intriguing songwriting. However, instead of the promised EP, Gojira have rather surprisingly released their fifth studio album. Thankfully, the band has seemingly looked towards their past to help them make a better future, with L’Enfant Sauvage
being the most impressive outing to date.
is a Gojira album through and through. The album is unabashedly heavy, with jugging guitar and blaringly harsh vocals, all very akin to metal acts such as Meshuggah and Hacride. With a strong death-metal backbone, the album shares many of the genre’s staples, but with a few added flairs to spice things up. This is where L’Enfant Sauvage
excels where other Gojira records have failed. The band has vastly improved the cohesiveness of their music. The album is noticeably shorter than their previous records, giving a very tight and consistent feel. Because of this, a lot of the fat has been trimmed to ensure a much more deliberate sound. Rather than have a glut of uninspired chugging, the album has been crafted so that every moment feels necessary and important. There is less content overall, that is true, but what is here is much more impressive in the long run.
As stated, the time on L’Enfant Sauvage
is very well spent. While the first part of the album doesn’t manage to get too far off of the ground, things pick up a bit towards the latter half. The one-two punch of “Explosia” and the eponymous track are mainly to blame, as neither song is particularly arresting. With a lot of filler, the former moves at a crawl, while the repetitiveness of “L’Enfant Sauvage” leaves much to be desired. Yet it is “The Axe” where things really pick up. With a bold and dramatic feeling, the song encapsulates much of what Gojira are doing correctly on the album. Mixing their death-metal centric sound with mild atmospherics and exciting instrumentation, the song is a success, and luckily much of the album is in its vein. “The Gift of Guilt” in particular is a great example of Gojira’s willingness to experiment a bit, and stands as the record’s strongest offering. It’s darker than the rest, but also features plenty of immiscible moments, namely the cathartic climax late into the song. By changing up their formula, Gojira have crafted an album full of excellent material, all of which culminates in some of their finest work to date.
For many, Gojira have been a tough sale. While plenty of people have fawned over the band and their sound, others have been unconvinced. L’Enfant Sauvage
is the album that has potential to bring others into the fold. Thanks to some thoughtful songwriting and overall aesthetic changes, the album is shoulders above much of the bands previous work. L’Enfant Sauvage
is the sound of a band coming into its own, and it is really something to behold.