REVIEW: GOJIRA – “Magma”
Gojira, the progressive metal giants from France, have come forward with their long-awaited new album. Set to be released on the June 17th,2016 (around about four years after their last record), Roadrunner Records made a big secret of the new album and only announced the title of the ten-track album a few weeks ago: ‘Magma’. A mighty and bit mystical word for an album, it matches the lyrical style of the track titles and texts of Gojira. I was very curious about the music behind this title.
So the album starts with “A Shooting Star”, which has a nice mid-speed, groovy, mystical riff. The instrumental part turns out to be a straight stamping beast – good, groovy Gojira stuff – but I was quite surprised by the voice of Joseph “Joe” Duplantier. He sings/speaks the verse lyrics in a hypnotic voice supported by appropriate background voices. In my opinion, this track is a bit daring as the very first one and an uncommon style for Gojira, but it’s very atmospheric and still an earworm.
The next track “Silvera” initiates the first harder part of the record. The track has powerful guitars with some tapping as well as the signature shouts of Joe. The chorus and mid-part of the song are gorgeous; the former contains the kind of singing from the previous track, and the tapping lead guitar in the mid-part is insane. The insanity continues with the next track “The Ceil”, which begins with Gojira-like shredding and changing drumming accents. These drumming accents and their unusual meter bothered and broke my mind for a while, while the floating verses and the thrilling chorus with broad chords and mighty shouts simply set the cherry on the cake. “Stranded” was released as music video a few days ago. The catchy intro riff with the crazy screaming guitar effect is of course sweeping from the first moment. The intro riff and verses motivate you to headbang, the straightforward chorus makes your whole body move, and the interlude is wonderfully atmospheric with the clean singing and leads back to the powerful intro riff. Awesome, again!
A muddy guitar and attendant drum pattern introduces “Yellow Stone”, a calmer part of the album which is followed by the title track “Magma”. I’m not sure what I could say about this track, and the meaning of the sentence is surely far away from negative. I’ve never listened a track like this: it’s heavy, hypnotic, and a bit strange altogether. It starts mysteriously with a heavy Gojira-style shredding riff – which is actually slow and oppressive – leading to the main riff of the song. This riff is based on melodies played with crooked stroked guitar harmonics backed with a slow drum beat and Joe’s clear voice. It’s creative, awesome and crazy; that’s the simplest way to describe it. You have to listen to it yourselves to understand what I mean. Different arrangements like the backing vocals or guitars join in and the track evolves further over time. It goes to a floating heavy part, shifted strokes included, and back to the main riff without the harmonic playing style and ends up with a chorus. What a track; indefinitely awesome!
After that crazy bomb of a track, the next two songs are heavier again. “Pray” begins with some percussions and flutes, which make me feel like I am in a rainforest listening to an old, hidden tribe. I felt like I was listening to tracks like “The Link” or “The Art of Dying”! Then the guitar enters with a slaying power and supports the mysterious background, which is a genius combination. The chorus and especially the mid-part of the song blasts the essence out of your headbanging hair. I have the feeling that this track embodies the average of all the old and new influences of Gojira. The next track “Only Pain” starts with a heavy guitar riff with a similar effect like in “Stranded”. This tracks holds the heaviness in consistent nibbles. Between said nibbles are bass guitar-based verses, atmospheric parts, and some crazy singing parts which join hands with the screaming guitar. It’s just a genius song structure.
The last two songs on ‘Magma’ are more atmospheric. “Low Lands” has an interesting suspense curve. The track begins with protracted parts of instrumental arrangements, and Joe’s clean voice backed by some synths. The mood of the track gets heavier until it gets to the final heavy part with powerful shouts from Joe. It carries on to the last track “Liberation”, which is a fine and relaxed interlude with percussions and an acoustic guitar. What a nice ending for an album. Finally, a short summery of the sound: I’ve nothing to complain. The guitars, drums and voices are perfect as always. If a part should be brutal or hypnotic, the sound of the album assimilates that feel into itself. You can hear every detailed arrangement here, and this gives the record an illuminating spirit.
Gojira’s new album ‘Magma’ is different by comparison from their older records; it’s more atmospheric and emotional, but is gorgeous and awesome in every sense. I admit, the album needs a few sessions to get its listener to fall in love with it. Gojira have held on to their roots and have just mixed in new influences. I feel it, and I love it; hats off to this unreal masterpiece.