To say that Gojira’s new record, Magma, has been worth the wait is an understatement worthy of Smithsonian recognition. In fact, if the Smithsonian Museum ever rolled out a Wing Of Colossal Understatements, you’d hang “Gojira’s new record has been worth the wait,” right next to, “You know, I’m starting to think these bankers know something we don’t.” Trust me – it slams from front to back. But Magma‘s petrol-soaked aggression sets a cornerstone on which a magnificent structure of riffs, head-swiveling tempos and expansive atmospherics is built. Thematically, they remain unremittingly blunt.
“When you change yourself, you change the world.”
So far, that’s my favorite lyric from the new Gojira record, appearing on first single Silvera. Stripped of context, it withers from blustery New Age self-importance, but in the heart of the song, the couplet takes on a roiling urgency that dovetails perfectly into the Silvera’s utterly massive structures and chugging rhythmic undercarriage.
To celebrate Gojira’s inaugural cover of Metal Hammer magazine, I’m digging up some photos I took of them in October, 2013. The new album is easily their best to date, an avalanche of seismic riffs, unapologetically ambitious in scale and unafraid to tackle that pesky little issue we’re facing with the whole, destroying-our-own-environment-past-the-point-of-no-return thing. I love songs about sex, drugs and rock and roll just as much as the next horn-throwing metalhead but at some point an artist needs to establish real depth; I’m not talking about those porcelain-skinned, twentysomething jackasses wearing sunglasses and very serious faces on the red carpet, vapidly mewling about the trendy cause du jour with no sense of personal attachment. I’m talking about guys like Joe Duplantier, Gojira’s guitarist and vocalist, who has for years seamlessly converged his artistic vision with his passion for protecting the environment, committing his voice, talents and money to groups like Sea Shepherd. As a prelude to their transfixing L’Enfant Sauvage, the band released an EP to pump some desperately-needed cash into the coffers of Sea Shepherd, who were — unbelievably — coming under fire for going after the whaling industry. By the way – who the fuck needs a whaling industry in the 21st century? It’s not like we need blubber to keep our lamps lit anymore and with scrimshaw being illegal now, isn’t it time we dispensed with that bloody old world barbarism? Anyway, at that time, Joe told Metal Insider, “We’re doing this for them and to bring the spotlight on these guys because we think that it’s important. There are controversies surrounding them. Are they terrorists, are they this or that? Who cares!? At least they’re doing something, and that’s very very important. These days, people are so cynical and disconnected with real life, and they’re all about their image and how they can connect with each other through Facebook, but there’s real life also.”
In this sense, the French metallers bring a peerless authenticity to their art form that invests their music with an immediacy and sheer force rarely seen in modern music. Of course, if Gojira were wholly focused on hyper-sanctimonious environmentalism, the heaviness of their music would be drowned out by the convulsive gags of every man, woman and child who might bear witness to their song. However, Gojira are first and foremost as polished and devastating as a modern metal band gets, conjuring a proggy maelstrom of swirling polyrhythms and jagged riffs heavy enough to knock a tornado over on its side. Their new album, Magma, delivers all of that and more. Check out their first single Silvera on Spotify as a run-up to Magma, released on June 17, 2016.