Within extreme metal there are a number of bands that push the style to it’s limits; constantly yearning for innovation. GOJIRA are one such band. Since exploding onto the scene with 2001’s Terra Incognita, the French outfit have consistently pushed their style and embraced innovation and the result of this has sky-rocketed the band’s popularity into one of metal’s biggest names. Four years have passed since 2012’s L’Enfant Sauvage and now we have Magma. Does this new offering from GOJIRA continue their musical exploration or does it fall short compared to their stellar back catalogue?
Opening track The Shooting Star instantly shows that GOJIRA are not conformists to any musical trends. A solemn and muffled atmosphere creeps in before a solid riff swings the momentum to a solid pace. This slow and orchestrated approach to the track may throw the listener at first but it’s the subtle and rather peculiar vocals from Joe Duplantier that really breathes life into the track. Soft and beautifully executed, Duplantier‘s vocal deliveries are wonderful and immediately, Magma is off to a solid start.
Things only seem to improve from there. Silvera feels like the GOJIRA of old, with a destructive riff and intricate guitar play from Joe Duplantier and Christian Andreu that whips the song into life. Duplantier‘s signature vocal growls drive the carnage but whilst the track is venomous in it’s delivery, it’s how technically proficient that truly leaves one amazed. Mario Duplantier‘s drumming is exquisite and complex and the accompanying rhythm to a mesmerising guitar solos hammers down the track as a standout on the record.
Magma is a record that must be listened to from start to finish in one sitting; the record gels together to form a listening experience that ebbs and flows. The Cell‘s earth-shattering bass drops from Jean-Michel Labadie replicate the force of a volcano whereas lead single Stranded‘s unique guitar play is intoxicating in it’s delivery. However, it’s the subtle qualities to Magma where GOJIRA really shine. Title track Magma is a behemoth, with a progressive approach the band hit their best form. Peculiar sounds resonate to the ears accompanied with oddly satisfying vocal harmonies from Joe Duplantier. This accumulates to a chorus that enforces a feeling of isolation. It’s hard not to be transfixed and whisked away into the sound.
The latter half of Magma holds up to the ferocious opening. Only Pain features a savage drum beat from Mario Duplantier before taking a back-seat to some of the best riffs on the record whereas Low Lands is muted in it’s delivery. Solitary notes are executed and Joe Duplantier deliveries some of his best cleans to date. It’s interesting and different, but doesn’t stray too far from the band’s solid formula. Closing track Liberation is arguably one of the most exhilarating songs GOJIRA have ever written. Isolated guitar notes creep across to you, before a steady drumbeat carries the instrumental closer. It’s a peculiar way to finish the record and after moments of utter devastation, the track serves to ease the listener out after one whirlwind of a journey. The feeling is draining and yet, oh so satisfying.
In truth, Magma is not an easy listening experience. It’s complicated in it’s delivery and there is so much going on sometimes it gets too much. However, on repeated listening, from start to finish, you will find something new with each listen. Be it a subtle guitar tone or a crushing bassline, that’s the beauty of Magma. This is a record of true heavy metal exploration. Not confined by boundaries, not sticking to the formula. GOJIRA have crafted a truly remarkable record with Magma, one that perfectly represents just what this band is about; destructive beauty.
Magma is set for release on June 17 via Roadrunner Records.
For more information on GOJIRA like their official page on Facebook.
GOJIRA will play a special performance at this year’s Bloodstock Festival. For tickets click here.