This really has been/is/will continue to be an amazing year for metal music. Spawn Of Possession, Meshuggah, Hour Of Penance and Gorod have all released albums that are either their pinnacle or their best in years and all signs point toward Dying Fetus and Suffocation having similar showings. So what of Gojira? The band’s last showing certainly astounded almost everyone who ever heard it here in the states and earned them a much larger following, which they’ve deserved since 2001’s ‘Terra Incognita’. However, in their native France, Gojira’s earned themselves quite a bit of trepidation. Some French metalheads (including my own brother) who have followed the band since their creation as Godzilla in 1996 fear that their sound has been ‘americanized’. My opinion of the demos certainly isn’t negative, but the band’s trademark sound was nowhere to be found. ‘Possessed’ for instance was really just a straight forward Brutal Death Metal release. Nothing wrong with that of course but for someone like me who listens to Brutal Death Metal as much as some people breath, it just fails to impact me even a tenth as much as their albums. The Godzilla demos are good, but not legendary. As far as I’m concerned ‘Terra Incognita’ is the beginning of my obsessive fandom.
Coincidentally, the ‘americanization’ concern was one that I had considered after hearing that Roadrunner Records is involved with this album. The days of trusting them with any band have long since passed; Suffocation isn’t recording ‘Effigy Of The Forgotten’, The Cavaleras aren’t Sepultura anymore and my other vessel of metallic devotion sure as hell won’t be releasing a ‘Digimortal’ if I have anything to say about it.
Thankfully, that concern can be put to rest. For this American at least.
Does ‘L’enfant Sauvage’ make me expect the second coming of ‘From Mars To Sirius’? (My favorite of the band’s releases) No, but then again I don’t think I’m supposed to. In my opinion, the most fascinating dichotomy between Meshuggah and Gojira (and why they compliment each other so perfectly in my opinion) is that while every single one of Meshuggah’s releases exists along a single continuum of constant destruction, erasure and improval, Gojira’s albums can be thought of as the undeniably different yet utterly inseparable elements of the Earth, or as parts of any much larger whole you might care to substitute my analogy for. While Gojira’s unmistakable style of dominating groove has been consistent since their debut full length, every album since has developed a new part of the same fertile whole of their music. ‘L’enfaunt Sauvage’ is no exception. Based on this track alone, my guess is that this release will highlight a lot more of the emotional punch that’s always been present in one cleverly executed form or another. The end of ‘To Sirius’ for example is a passage I always use to test who among me is human. There are at least three wallops in this track, minimum. In fact, my one serious critique of this track is that the harsh vocals clash with the powerful cleans more often than I’d like. That’s just me though. My favorite Gojira tracks have always been ones with the best balance of harsh and clean vocals, which is probably why ‘From Mars To Sirius’ is still the greatest chance Gojira has to converting me to Duplantierism.
Aside from my quibble about the vocal dynamic, everything else here is top notch. I have a feeling that even when June 26th comes around ‘Koloss’ will still be better, but that’s no reason to disregard ‘L’enfant Sauvage’. My greatest hope for this latest Gojira offering was the continuation of their legendary track record. My hope is on its way to becoming reality. Between clean vocals so powerful there’s no way they can’t induce tears, thundering drums and world splitting grooves it seems christmas is year round in 2012.
I think the most important distinction to make with Gojira’s discography (after careful consideration) is to judge each album as a whole of its own. Every single LP they’ve ever recorded functions within its own carefully conceived world of metallic bliss encompassed within the omnipresent world of the band’s distinct characteristics. Often times people just lump every single offering together along a single line of progression but I think that’s largely a mistake. Sure, deciding which ‘world’ is your favorite as it were is only natural. Much like any organic system however, Gojira’s music functions best when the listener is best immersed in it, that is to say, a part of it. Conversely, Meshuggah exists as a self correcting mechanical entity, capable of not only adaptation but rapid evolution. Both ‘ObZen’ and ‘Koloss’ illustrated a bio-mechanical development, living tissue adopted by an otherwise completely mechanical process. ‘Way Of All Flesh’ and now ‘L’enfant Sauvage’ seem to explore the darker sides of both existence and the functions of a world; death, pain, deprivation etc. etc. If this track is any indication of where the album is headed, I look forward to being swept away by the tide of sensation.