Written Before Listen
Gojira is a French Metal band known for their essential work in the 2000s. I am not familiar with their work in particular but I’m familiar with some of their contemporaries such as Meshuggah, Mastodon, Opeth and to a slight reach, Death and Cynic. Being familiar with the previously mentioned bands and listening to at least 2 albums from each, it’s kind of unique to just recently dip my feet into their work. It should probably be a requirement of mine to listen to their “essentials” but for today, I will be reviewing their 2021 album, Fortitude.
I think I’ve come to realize the main style of Gojira. A lot like their contemporaries, they are a branch between Progressive Metal and other forms of metal. This time, it turns out to be Groove Metal. Tracks like “The Chant” , “Amazonia” and “New Found” are slightly more groove than progressive. I think their stylings of Progressive and Groove metal are done quite well too. The problem occurs when they try to branch into genres they are uncomfortable in. The biggest examples being the title track and “The Chant” that follows after it. The title track is an interlude type track where the mixing is awkward and that tambourine is way louder than it should be. “The Chant” on the other hand (knowing what follows before it) is just annoying. They really don’t keep the track entertaining whatsoever and it spans 5 minutes. Stylistically, it’s easy to say that as a band, they work best inside their comfort zone.
Gojira doesn’t bring anything super new to the table instrumentally. The guitars are distorted, the bass is melodic, the drums are heavy and the frontman is versatile. It’s what they do with them that makes them stand out. The tones are more digital sounding and the drums come with some insane fills. It’s not like the vocalist does the inflection change for the sake of it either. He changes it when necessary. Gojira isn’t a band that goes against the grain per se, but they don’t go for it either.
A lot like the Cannibal Corpse record I reviewed, the production is easily the best factor of this album. It doesn’t mean weak points are prevented though. A prime example of this is the track “Amazonia” where the drums are particularly unsettling or that tambourine fiasco on the title track. I shouldn’t go without mentioning the biggest mess mix-wise. “New Found”. The whole entire thing just sounds cluttered to death. With that out of the way, it goes without saying that everything else proves this as a well produced record. The way the drums are compressed are great and don’t borderline in sounding artificial. The guitars are manipulated but only in a subtle way. I think there are some good engineers behind this album and that goes without question
A lot of their lyricism is similar to Mastodon as they deal with more historical and natural topics. For example, the track “Amazonian” is all about the decline of the Amazon Rainforest while the track “Sphinx” is all about ancient Egypt. There is also “Hold On” which not only has a progressive structure but a progressive topic as well. The track is all about a man being lost at sea trying to find land. “The Trails” follows a similar narrative but with a different topic as it’s all about searching for gold. When it comes to progressive metal in general, a lot of the inner talent is showcased in the songwriting. Artists such as Mastadon and Death dont usually tend towards metal stereotypes as they go in depth on more intelligent topics. Gojira seems to be in that category and do a good job at it.
I think the cons are scattered throughout the album. This album just comes off inconsistent. There are some amazing tracks and some pretty bad ones. It’s not only the tracklist either. I think sonically and stylistically they come off as an up and down rollercoaster. I mean…What else is there to say? It has its highs and lows.
Overall, It’s an album where I would cherrypick the best tracks and leave the rest behind. Similar to the Lana album, I think Gojira has better work behind them and I know that this isn’t their best work so I should probably look into their back catalog. I will say that the highs on this album easily overpower the lows so with that, I will still give this album a positive score.