Review Summary: The Flesh Alive not only puts you in the front row of the show, but gives an eye-opening account of the mind and heart of Gojira.
Gojira did not take the quick path to stardom. Formed in 1997 around brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier, the quartet spent nine years in relative obscurity until their third album From Mars to Sirius
really made a splash in the international metal community. The band’s first live set, The Link Alive
, was a solid take on their first two albums, but came too soon to capture Gojira’s creative explosion. 2012’s The Flesh Alive
, however, takes full advantage of the strength and diversity of From Mars…
and successor The Way of All Flesh
After a three-year gestation period, expectations were high for The Flesh Alive
, and it certainly lives up to the billing. Included are two full live sets (93 and 80 minutes), a 3-song show, an hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary, and a CD of the first show…basically enough Gojira to make your head spin and your face melt. The biggest disappointment here is that both concerts have nearly the same setlist, with the second adding “Toxic Garbage Island”. In both shows, centerpieces “The Art of Dying” and “Flying Whales” highlight a selection chock full of high-octane songs, including three from their debut. The music really comes to life on stage, with Mario’s polyrhythmic drumming standing out in particular. The band makes up for a lack of stage presence by hammering out the songs with a rare mix of precision and power, with Joe’s vocals set low in the mix to let the atomic-clock instrumentation shine through.
The shows are all filmed in high-definition, so the spotlights and sweat seem like they’re right in front of you. A multitude of camera angles and crowd shots also add to the at-the-show vibe. Short of feeling Mario’s helicopter-like bass runs rattling your teeth, this is about at as close to the band as you can get. The documentary includes show footage, home-movies of van trips, plane flights where the band contemplates wing malfunctions, interviews with fans and people who have helped them along the way, and snippets of the members just being silly and colorful.
The Flesh Alive
leaves you feeling like a part of the whole Gojira experience; you’re watching not just a band, but the personalities and ideals behind their music. The word “spiritual” comes up a number of times, and sums up the marriage of personal and worldly ideas that lead to Gojira’s intimate yet bone-crushing music. The Flesh Alive
is a convincing argument that Gojira deserve every bit of respect and praise that they’ve worked for over the years, and should be of great interest to fans of heavy and thoughtful music.