Monday, 10 October 2016

Gojira "Magma" (2016)

Gojira were once France's most promising band in a lacking Metal scene the country is still devoid of. The mid naughties saw the release of "From Mars To Sirius" which catapulted them into the touring circuit, a critically acclaimed release with a handful of songs becoming a staple in their live set. They are now a well and truly established Metal outfit with their environmentally conscious edge striking a uniqueness in their sound. Ive never listened to a record of theirs properly, mostly I know the songs they will play live and a few others so with the announcement of their sixth full length It was about time I gave it my time and attention.

My initial observation has become the focal point of this records charm, Its not as heavy, something Metal bands can often get persecuted for. In the case of Gojira the atmospheric, lighter edge in their sound has become the focus with the rhythm guitars playing second fiddle to clean vocals and lead melodies. Its a shift that retains the groove and characteristic of their aggressive playing but subverted to a temperate environment, fit to satisfy fans without downplaying its significance. There are many chugging grooves churning away under the vocals which could of been more prominent in the forefront but stay as relevant in a moodier setting. Its quite a satisfying chemistry where the most crucial aspect of a groove or melody has been presented in simplicity over complexity with only one or two of their trademarked mind bending guitar noise riffs making their way into the songs in a slower form.

Even if the scales have tilted, there are plenty of breakout moments for head banging and crunchy momentum but its the atmosphere this record has that makes its mark. It often feels as if an ooze of organic synth is creeping in between instruments but actually its the clean vocals that are dressed with a long reverbing echo, having each sung line drift and disperse into the guitars with a moody charm. The atmospheric mood has a hint of gloom, a touch of mystery and a deeply organic vibe further resonating with the natural theme in the lyrics which are emotionally charged, something you feel through Duplantier's performances.

The album cover is very appropriate, the record has a chromatic and pale tone with its slower pace and calming melodies. The mixing is fantastic, even in a modern age where capturing instruments crisply is relatively easy, it is an art to balance them with the right tone, volume and coloring. Everything here compliments each other, no overpowering, over loud instruments and the vocals are simply gorgeous in the clean moments. My only complaint is that the second half drifts further into the less metallic component of their sound and does so with a fair bit of repetition. Otherwise its a solid record.

Favorite Tracks: Silvera, The Cell, Stranded, Magma
Rating: 8/10

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