GOJIRA
"Magma"

(Roadrunner)

01. The Shooting Star
02. Silvera
03. The Cell
04. Stranded
05. Yellow Stone
06. Magma
07. Pray
08. Only Pain
09. Low Lands
10. Liberation

RATING: 9/10

Few would have trouble recognizing GOJIRA's unique sound from even a couple seconds of listening. The band's cross-pollination of MESHUGGAH's jagged, rhythmic brutishness with the dark belligerence of Steve Tucker-era MORBID ANGEL has blossomed throughout its discography up until now. GOJIRA has always been fearless in songwriting, though never quite as bold as with the band's sixth full-length album, "Magma", recorded at its own Silver Cord Studio in New York, where the Frenchmen have relocated. The band is one of metal's shining stars, and through the process of coming to terms with personal tragedy, it has possibly released the album of the year.

The unfortunate passing of the Duplantier brothers' mother during the album's creation delayed the process midway, and the magnitude of what happened inevitably sculpted the final product. Guitarist / vocalist Joe Duplantier and drummer Mario Duplantier were understandably overwhelmed to the point of shedding tears during recording sessions. That isn't to say that powerful experience invariably equates to quality output, but in this case, the brothers' soul-searching and catharsis successfully translates through each song, twisting through a variety of emotions, which range from sorrow to anger and confusion and back again. It is introspective. It is spiritual. There is ultimately a feeling of hope squeezed out of the Duplantiers' struggle to cope.

The technical avalanche GOJIRA boasted through 2012's "L'Enfant Sauvage" has largely been eschewed for a focus upon simpler, easily digestible numbers that are atmospheric, hard rock-based and the band's most accessible to date. The somber, slow and spacious opener, "The Shooting Star", sets the album's tone with an instantly evocative, detached, dream-like quality revolving around its sedative core riff. Joe Duplantier's melodic voice immediately takes the driver's seat, this tone in place of his gruff, death metal-influenced growl, which was previously at the forefront of the band's songs.

The frontman's clean singing highlights the following, beefier track, "Silvera", during its chorus, and is not unlike Mitch Harris's crooning parts with NAPALM DEATH and MENACE. "The Cell" and "Stranded" follow with nu metal-esque qualities affecting the grooves, and a vocal delivery that while lackluster on the former track, is satisfying on the latter.

Purists who prefer things heavy at all times may be turned off or let down by a bulk of this release, one that is so focused upon controlled simplicity. However, this segment of the band's fanbase has a few tracks to sink its teeth into: "Only Pain" and "Pray". The latter suffering only with the awkward nu metal riff towards song's end. GOJIRA hasn't abandoned its ability to attack, yet here its aggressive element is tempered compared to previous work.

The instrumental lull of "Yellow Stone" makes sense in the context of the whole. The song is a journey through a variety of emotions and introspection, but it offers little value as an individual song. Not unlike the tribal instrumental closer, "Liberation", a song that may not be worth revisiting for most, its spare workings sure as hell means a lot to the album's creators. Seeking a sense of peace reflected in the acoustic guitar's meandering and relative stability of the gentle percussive slapping, the song is a logically calm closure to an album that's a powerful eulogy to the brothers' mother. Sometimes immortality can find itself in art.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).