Gojira, ‘Magma’ – Album Review
Originality has never been a problem for Gojira. Since their inception, the French metal band has made genre-defying music that incorporates several different styles. They have continually explored new directions and pushed musical boundaries, making them one of the most interesting bands in metal.
Over the years their profile has steadily grown higher, and since it has been four years since their last studio album, expectations are higher than usual for their latest effort, Magma.
A lot has happened with Gojira in the time since L’Enfant Sauvage. The band built their own Silver Cord Studio in New York, where the album was recorded. During the process, frontman Joe and drummer Mario Duplantier’s mother passed away. The emotions experienced in such a devastating loss are evident when listening to Magma.
Joe told Loudwire how that affected their approach to the album: "Everything we go through in life inspires us to write songs and this was like an earth-shattering event. For us being musicians, it’s a way to cope with life in general, so of course for a moment that intense and that important there’s no other way than expressing it in the music. It’s still hard, it’s not because you write about it, it becomes easy but it helps for sure. This album is full of that experience."
Gojira’s past albums have included melodic and progressive elements, but they are at the forefront on Magma. “The Shooting Star” is not a typical opener, a mid-tempo and somber song with clean vocals that have a trippy, Voivod-ian vibe. “Silvera” is faster and a bit heavier, with harsh vocals leading to an extremely catchy melodic chorus. It has a lot of depth and atmosphere and an extended instrumental break mid-song.
While Gojira have never really been a band with a lot of commercial radio appeal, there are some songs on Magma that have hit potential. “Stranded” has instantly memorable riffs, a song that’s uncompromising and true to their style while being very catchy.
Some of their past albums have clocked in at more than an hour, but Gojira wanted this one to be more streamlined. It’s about 45 minutes long, with many tracks in the three to four minute range. There are more epic songs, as well, as the masterful title track stretches nearly seven minutes with great guitar work and melodic vocals.
The back half of Magma loses absolutely no momentum. “Pray" has some of the album’s heaviest parts. The penultimate song “Low Lands” is a slow build, intensifying toward the end. That’s contrasted by the mellow closer “Liberation.” The acoustic instrumental is sparse and understated, bringing the album to a quiet and peaceful end.
The title Magma is appropriate. It’s molten rock usually made up of four parts, is very fluid and dynamic and can emerge as a slow-moving river or as part of a violent explosion. Magma the album is a dynamic and fluid record played by the four members of Gojira, is sometimes fast and violent, other times slow-moving and mellow.
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