In 2008 GOJIRA came along and lit a white hot fire under our asses with "The Way of All Flesh". Four years later, that fire is not only still burning, but the band returned to pour fuel all over that flame with "L'Enfant Sauvage". Simply put, GOJIRA's fifth album is a game-changer. There has been no shortage of great metal albums over the last couple of years, but few, if any, dare to expand the genre's boundaries in the way "L'Enfant Sauvage" does. This is progression without exaggerated eclecticism. GOJIRA's evolution is as organic as the album's production and nothing the band has done here feels forced or out of place. The beauty of it all is that GOJIRA has managed that rare spot of middle ground where they can reach a wide range of listeners. From the jaded die-hard to the fan-for-fashion's sake crowd, nobody should walk away from "L' Enfant Sauvage" disappointed. It's crushingly heavy, without being overbearingly so and offers plenty of dynamics and breathing room. It's challenging, but not intimidating and, perhaps most importantly, the songs are accessible enough to capture the attention of anyone within earshot, but in no way could they be construed as "fluff" or "commercial".
The opening chords of "Explosia", which blends a furious MESHUGGAH vs. PANTERA chug with an expansive and engaging soundscape textured by a moody Western melody, are the beginning of a journey. An album in the truest sense of the word, "L'Enfant Sauvage" is best experienced from start to finish. Some of the more aggressive tracks ? "Liquid Fire" or "Planned Obsolescence" ? stand out strongly enough on their own if you're in the mood for a visceral assault on the eardrums, but the experience is so much more satisfying if you add the innovation of "The Wild Healer" and complexity of "Mouth Of Kala" into the mix. The bipolar "The Gift Of Guilt" showcases two-handed tapping, tremolo trickery and harmonic oddities for some of the album's most unique moments while also boasting some of the most straight-forward death metal playing on the speedier section that lie in between the weirdness. Reminiscent of CULT OF LUNA's moodiest moments, "Born in Winter" sinks into a depressive lull before GOJIRA snaps the mood back into an aggressive state with their trademark pummel. Oddly doomy, angry and uplifting all at once, closing track "The Fall" is the musical and emotional culmination of every note that came before it and ends "L'Enfant Sauvage" with you desperately wanting more. Let's just hope we don't have to wait another four years.
"L'Enfant Sauvage" is easily one the most remarkable pieces of music, regardless of genre. There just isn't a single flaw to be found on this album and it's exactly what metal needed to step into the next generation. "L'Enfant Sauvage" is to 2012 what "Master Of Puppets" was to 1986, what "Far Beyond Driven" was to 1994 and, in the next ten to twelve years when the next "big thing" in metal is asked what they cut their teeth on, this album will be their answer.