sun 14/08/2022

Album: Gojira - Fortitude | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Gojira - Fortitude

Album: Gojira - Fortitude

French metallers deliver a sonically crafted pummelling their fans should enjoy

Environmental metal warriors

Chances are many will not have heard of Gojira. At best, as a music lover, theirs may be a name seen among the line-up of metal festivals. As ever with metal, perceived as niche but with a vast audience, this is misleading. Gojira are globally successful, quarter of century into their career, with proper hit albums under their belt.

They are also that rare thing, a French heavy metal band.

Fortitude is their seventh studio album and follows on from their most successful, 2016’s Magma. That album was an excoriating affair, built around the response of brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier, frontman and drummer, respectively, to the death of their mother. Fortitude, they say, is about putting that behind them and letting their hair down. Given their forte is adding complexity and arena-sized songcraft to a death metal blueprint, it’s still usually a pummelling affair.

Fortitude is primarily a sonic experience. Occasional multi-tracked choruses aside, the vocals are usually so low in the mix it’s difficult to discern actual words and meaning. But, boy, is it produced, guitar attack studio-tweaked and moulded, effects added, drum rhythms fore-fronted, guitar solos surfacing from the stew, alongside enraged roaring, the whole adding up to a visceral trip.

Given the sonic attention to detail, sometimes it’s as if The Prodigy had taken their heaviest rock leanings and extended them. Indeed, “Amazonia” has a smidgeon of downtuned “Voodoo People” about it. The band have a long history of supporting environmental causes, not just lip service, but raising much money. “Amazonia”, with its hints of panpipe and jaw harp drone, and lines such as “Nature’s greatest miracle is burning to the ground”, continues this tradition.

Where much of the album consists of giant, if variegated, attack, there are a couple where Gojira slow things down, the mournful, catchy “The Trails” and, notably, the fist-pumping communal anthem “The Chant”, with its intriguing, offbeat two-minute percussive intro and eventual stadium backing vocal sing-along. The latter is the album’s centrepiece but most of Fortitude is less easy-on-the-ear, offering, instead, an enjoyable, appealingly constructed clout round the head.

Below: Watch the video for "Amazonia" by Gojira

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