PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Gojira: L'Enfant Sauvant

Gojira unveil their eagerly awaited follow up to The Way of All Flesh, resulting in another thunderstorm of oppressive technicality from one of progressive metal's leading lights. C'est incroyable!


Gojira

L'Enfant Sauvant

Label: Roadrunner
Amazon
iTunes

Gojira are currently considered the alpha and omega of Gallic metal -- a French phoenix that arose from their home shores to spread their socially aware lyrical message and menacing musicianship worldwide. If you were to believe popular mainstream metal publications and fans you would be led to think that Gojira were, and are, the only French metal band in the history of the world to ever exist. In fact, the French metal scene is a veritable breeding ground for all genres of extreme metal spanning inverted, occult black metal (Deathspell Omega, Arkhon Infaustus), jack-hammering, progressive death metal (Gorod, Hacride) and beyond to the idealistic world created by Neige and his Alcest project.

For those who have more than scratched the surface of the French underground, it is clear that there is some straight-up misinformation found in championing Gojira as the sole-trader of metal in France, and this high level of hype surrounding Gojira has undoubtedly assisted their career and in many respects, has been deservedly placed upon them. In no way can Gojira be accused of being "flavour of the month", nor have they been elevated to esteemed levels of adoration inconsistent with their output. This band has summoned media attention on the back of the years of refining their musical and lyrical stand-point, subsequently gaining many fans along the way.

The bond that exists between this tight knit group, consisting of two brothers -- Joe Duplantier (guitars/vocal) and Mario Duplantier (drums), and their long time friends Christian Andreu (guitars) and Jean Michel Labadie (bass) -- seems almost spiritual in nature. Their career so far has been on a steady incline, and through hard work, strength of mind and an innate understanding of each other's limitations, Gojira now have their name ushered alongside genre giants Morbid Angel, Fear Factory and Meshuggah. The mention of these three particular bands is no coincidence, as Gojira's overall sound can bring to mind each of these pioneering bands, sometimes all in the space of one overflowing movement.

Gojira's career began as a whisper before turning into the whirlwind they have now become. Forming in Bayonne, France in 1996, Gojira, then named Godzilla (the band had to change their name under threat of legal proceedings), released a number of demos before full-length debut Terra Incognita came out to little or no response outside their homeland. The same could be said for second album The Link. However, the core basis of Gojira's sound was forged on these two releases, with the latter gaining more attention due to a refinement in the song-writing. It was only when third album, From Mars to Sirius, landed with the impact of a pod of flying whales, that the worldwide audience took notice of the progressive sounds emanating from the Basque region of France. Highly regarded upon its release, From Mars to Sirius melded together the progressive flair of Devin Townsend and the juddering syncopations of a death metal-minded Meshuggah, on top of which Joe Duplianter screamed himself hoarse without crossing the line into preaching the band's holistic, eco-conservational lyrical slant, which was totally at odds with the aggression of the music. Consequentially, Gojira was coined the future of metal and The Way of All Flesh (the album that followed) gave critics and fans alike the opportunity to wax lyrical about how Gojira have the ability to stretch perceptions and define what a progressive metal band should be in the 21st Century. Such hyperbolic statements were, in turn, given significant weight once the band signed to legendary metal label Roadrunner and were chosen to support Metallica.

L'Enfant Sauvant or The Wild Child for the non-French speakers, is Gojira's debut album on Roadrunner -- who have recently been acquired and emasculated by the parasitic Warner Music Group -- and provides Joe Duplantier the opportunity to gaze inwards and explore rhetorical lyrical themes such as the true meaning of freedom, an obvious change from the past social commentary on how the world is collapsing around us because of our own hands. Ironically, the aptly titled "Explosia" could rip a greater hole in the O-Zone layer. Its unusual pick scraping intro-riff turns into a surging tempo-shift that links each instrument to one rhythmic spine, before revealing an ascending blanket of tremolo-picked guitars and ending on a cold, repetitive industrial groove. Meanwhile "L'Enfant Sauvage" and "The Mouth of Kala" show Gojira at the height of their powers, intensely violating the listener with mind-bending, polyrhythmic grooves that never outstay their welcome and enough riff variations during the verses to allow the songs the chance to breathe.

Drummer Mario Duplantier is Gojira's secret weapon and his fluid transitions between frightening blasts -- best heard on "Planned Obsolescence" -- complex double bass pattern and tasty accented grooves makes each twist and turn twice as lethal. "The Axe" and "Liquid Fire" work in this manner, with some interesting approaches taken to riff construction, rotating between Behemoth-like heaviosity, curious guitar harmonics and the expansive passages of post metal. "Liquid Fire" also noteably contains a breathtaking section of descending riffs that continue to free fall before suddenly turning skyward, and this track sees Joe Duplantier re-introducing vocoded vocals during the verses and making it work to greater effect than it did on The Way of All Flesh. The vocals overall are probably the least exhilarating aspect of Gojira's sound. Even though Joe Duplantier's passion clearly comes from somewhere tangible and his scream holds definite power, it can be quite monochromatic in parts, with little vocal variation found throughout the majority of tracks. Duplantier seems to be aware of his vocal limitations and during the meditative sections of "Born in Winter" he explores the use of hushed, clean tones, something that may creep into Gojira's sound in the future.

L'Enfant Sauvant as a whole does nothing to push Gojira's highly evolved sound any further, and their heroic ascent may have reached a plateau. However, progression is clearly not the band's objective here and this album should not be prejudiced because of this. Gojira's next release may require the band to take some extra risks to remain relevant, but for now, this album presents a commanding collection of songs which solidify everything Gojira achieved on The Way of All Flesh; resulting in another thunderstorm of oppressive technicality from one of progressive metal's leading lights. C'est Incroyable!

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.