L’ENFANT SAUVAGE (2012)
France, Roadrunner Records, Progressive/Groove/Death Metal
A metal reviewer, especially a fan of both progressive metal and death metal, may be tempted to write two reviews for L’Enfant Sauvage: the first would praise the mature, alternative side of this more melodic release, and highlight the ecological lyrics and conceptual decadence. The second, the TDM review, laments the melodic focus, and especially mourns the loss of the pace changes and technical bursts that made Gojira so memorable.
Although Gojira has never dwelt in the crypts with Suffocation and Defeated Sanity, past releases boasted consistently crushing heaviness. The gargantuan production and squeaking slides remain on L’Enfant Sauvage, but the introduction of melodic passages, clean vocals, alternative rock melodies, and auto-tuning steadily move Gojira away from the deathly norm…and some of their fans. And yes, you read that right, auto-tuning.
L’Enfant Sauvage still packs a few riffs big enough to crumble a moon, but these parts take second stage to a commerciality akin to Soilwork. While the slower strumming and half shouts make for a diversity in the band’s catalog that may be highlighted in the non-TDM review, tracks like “The Aex” will make deatheads reach for the skip button. Same with the two-and-a-half minutes of plodding outro on “Explosia,” and the instrumental interlude “The Wild Healer.”
While some of the atmospheric tracks are interesting, and some of the lyrics inspiring (the haunting “The Gift of Guilt,”) much of L’Enfant Sauvage will leave metal fans scratching their heads rather than banging them (i.e. the auto-tuning on “Liquid Fire.”) Gojira succeeds here in the avant- garde/alternative sense, and this will definitely win the band some new fans. However, the choice to focus on the not heavy side of things, as impressive as some moments are, will alienate those who dig on the brutal side of things.
TDM rating: Sadly, Gojira has dropped a lot of the death metal elements, so this rating doesn’t seem to apply.
Non-TDM rating: 7/10
Reviewer: Witness to the Void