Gojira
Magma


4.0
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (105 Reviews)
July 15th, 2016 | 38 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist


If Gojira’s last effort L’Enfant Sauvage presented a more streamlined sound, Magma is the next step in stripping it down. Abandoning the technical death metal sound that got them popular in the metal world might seem like a betrayal to some, but I’ve always seen Gojira as more of a progressive metal band anyway. They’ve often eschewed the modern tech-death tag in favor of a sound that, while brutal, is heavily textured and dripping with atmosphere all the same. Gojira’s way of combining beautiful textures, chunky riffs, and impressive instrumental skills is simply infectious, especially in albums like The Way of All Flesh and The Link. But Magma is a bit of a different beast, as it opts for an alarmingly simple approach to their signature sound. The groove metal element is still retained, but there’s almost a post-metal quality about the way the album is presented. We now have much more buildup and subtle dynamic shifts in many of the tunes, and this is clear right from the slow-burning opener “Shooting Star,” a song which immediately brings a sense of minimalism to the forefront. During the verses, a single guitar/bass note is repeatedly being played at the bottom while Joe Duplantier’s clear vocals take charge above it. While “Silvera” picks up the pace substantially with Mario Duplantier’s technical drumming and swifter guitar chugs, “Shooting Star” is a clear foreshadowing of the album’s tone. Speaking of vocals, Joe’s clean vocals are much more prominent. Harsh singing is still present, but it’s more thrash-based in nature instead of being gravelly; basically Joe’s shouted vocals are especially frequent. In any case, it’s not like Gojira’s technical side has been entirely erased here, as moments like the punchy-yet-melodic “Silvera” or the amazingly intricate polyrhythmic intro of “The Cell” demonstrate.

But strange moments do pop up more than once as a result of the band’s stylistic shift. The somber instrumental piece “Yellow Stone” is certainly in character for the band, given how their melancholic guitar-driven interlude “The Silver Cord” from The Way of All Flesh sounded. But it still seems completely crazy that they would place an acoustic ambient/folk song at the very end of the album, especially one that lasts for as long as it does (almost 4 minutes, in this case). But “Liberation” does represent this album’s experimentation nicely, and the preceding track “Low Lands” is another odd song that emphasizes a doom-laden atmosphere and somber melodies over outright heaviness. If there are any songs here that represent Gojira’s more traditional sound from past albums, they would be “Silvera,” “Stranded,” and “Only Pain.” Here, you get to hear all the intense double-bass drumming, heavy guitar distortion from Duplantier and Christian Andreu, and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie’s monstrous grooves. This is most notably heard on the fantastic chorus of “Stranded” which subtly slides into a 6/4-time riff while Joe Duplantier belts out some of his most intense harsh vocals yet. But I feel as though the more adventurous songs are also the most exciting ones; they may seem simplistic at first, but despite (and partially because of) their minimalism, they command the listener’s full attention through their subtleties. It would also be sensible to mention the event that likely influenced much of this album’s tone and style: the tragic loss of Joe and Mario Duplantier’s mother, Patricia Rosa. So the somber and downbeat vibe of Magma would certainly make sense because of this as well. While I don’t think this is Gojira’s best record, and it definitely seems like a transitional one, it’s an incredibly exciting one at the same time. It can be tonally inconsistent once in a while, but the unusual experiments and minimalist songwriting choices definitely stick out in a genre filled with technical wizardry and complexity. Magma may be from a different Gojira than we’re used to, but it’s still an excellent piece of work.



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user ratings (784)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Chamberbelain CONTRIBUTOR (4)
“Magma” solidifies the fact that Gojira are in a league of their own....

Rastapunk (4.5)
Magma rising to surface around Yellowstone, super-eruptions to come. An introspective look into them...



Comments:Add a Comment 
SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2016


5003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm loving this one. It's not one of my favorites by Gojira, but I love the changes to their typical formula this time around

Digging: Little Dragon - Ritual

Tunaboy45
July 15th 2016


16100 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album, great review.

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2016


5003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man. I tried to go for a more condensed writing style this time around, which is why I stuck with two paragraphs :]

iloveyouall
July 15th 2016


6319 Comments


really, bland, summary.

Tunaboy45
July 15th 2016


16100 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sometimes a simple summary is all you need, seems fine to me.

FullOfSounds
July 15th 2016


15745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, and I think the summary is fine

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2016


5003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I just decided to drop the summary altogether. I couldn't really think of a creative one for this album, admittedly

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2016


5003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

But thanks everyone. Either way, it's been so fun watching people bitch about this album not being "brutal enough" on social media.

Detritivore
July 15th 2016


307 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Good review, but for me is the weaker album of Gojira so far.



While I don’t think this is Gojira’s best record, and it definitely seems like a transitional one,



I totally agree





Tunaboy45
July 15th 2016


16100 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If this is a transitional album then wow am I excited for what comes next.

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
July 15th 2016


5003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can understand that, Detritivore. It seems to be the most polarizing Gojira album in general. Thanks for the positive feedback though :]

DDDeftoneDDD
February 3rd 2018


1088 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is a great yet different album from Gojira just because they lost some DM aspects in their music...This is a progressive band but with excellent songwriting...so they do actually songs and don't get lost in the prog aspects. For me every album as its own mark, and experimentation...with time i started to love so much songs like Shooting Star Magma and Low Lands.

Digging: Carcass - Heartwork

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2018


5003 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's the great thing about Gojira. Every album is distinctly theirs, but they all have their own unique personality and atmosphere that goes along with them

DarkSideOfLucca
February 3rd 2018


11073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I dunno, I mean Gojira is in my top 10 favorite bands of all time but this is their first album that they released that I'm not totally in love with. I was excited for a more progressive album but Silveria is weirdly simple, Stranded is catchy but also really repetitive, and the progressive songs don't progress as much as I would like them to.



Still really good, but for Gojira I was a bit let down.

HarryBoBerry
February 3rd 2018


577 Comments


This is definitely their most accessible album, but it's still great. Probably their most personal album too.

DDDeftoneDDD
February 3rd 2018


1088 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I get your point DarkSideOfLuca and agree a lot with Harry and SoccerRiot to. This was what made start to listen to Gojira. Have you guys checked this out?



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWY-Obragek





HarryBoBerry
February 3rd 2018


577 Comments


I haven't checked out that particular set list but I will. Their live shows are incredible. I love that they still play their oldest material.

DDDeftoneDDD
February 3rd 2018


1088 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I usually don't even like to see live streams of bands concerts but that one is really good and goes trhough their entire career

DarkSideOfLucca
February 3rd 2018


11073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've seen them live like 3 times in 2017 and actually met them as well but no I haven't seen that set



Also have The Way of All Flesh tour concert DVD w000



gonna jam this show now though

DDDeftoneDDD
February 3rd 2018


1088 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you lucky bastard!



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