Since their rise from obscurity with From Mars to Sirius each new release from Gojira has been anticipated with bated breath.
So far they have not disappointed, and Magma is the latest in a run of consistently amazing albums from the Bayonne quartet. This time, the jagged, frantic arrangements of previous albums have been replaced by melancholy tracks built around sparse riffing and melodic vocals, setting an overall atmosphere of lingering sorrow.
‘The Shooting Star’ sets the tone for the album with a brooding groove and plod and haunting vocal melodies. The pace slowly quickens over the next few tracks, building to the riff-fest ‘Stranded’ with its stuttering, Meshuggah-flavoured pattern before the short interlude ‘Yellow Stone’ rolls, huge and Sabbath-like across the landscape into the epic title track. Gojira’s old progressive style raises its head somewhat here, arching through several movements into an almost hypnotic, minor key groove filled with Joe Duplantier’s plaintive, mesmerising vocals, a reverie savagely blown apart by the immensity of ‘Pray’s’ incredible militaristic staccato riff.
Simplicity is the key here, with songs riding on sustained, catchy grooves instead of the band’s usual technical onslaughts. The sound is stripped back but there are moments like ‘The Cell’ and the last minute of ‘Pray’ that rank as some of the heaviest moments in the band’s career. Magma is akin to the direction Mastodon took with The Hunter, though it’s likely that this will be more readily accepted, by both fans and new sets of ears.
Thought-provoking, emotional and stark, stupidly heavy without being dumb, Magma is a monument to true greatness in metal.
- The Shoorting Star
- The Cell
- Yellow Stone
- Only Pain
- The Lowlands