Released: 2006, Prosthetic Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
France’s Gojira took the metal world by storm when FROM MARS TO SIRIUS was released on the European indie label Listenable Records last year. Prosthetic Records has picked up the North American distribution rights and on album number three, Gojira continue their ascension by dabbling in their own version of enviro-metal. The band’s lyrics deal with global issues and posses a distinct environmentally-friendly outlook on the world, which would lead many to initially dismiss them as hippie flakes but their skull-crushing music is a wall of dense noise not unlike the extreme nature of Cult of Luna, Neurosis, Mastodon and Strapping Young Lad. Vibrant soundscapes explode but a seething darkness is also bubbling below the surface of FROM MARS TO SIRIUS, creating an undercurrent of doom atop the chaotic madness. Songs are soothing one minute and unsettling the next. Lurching tempo changes, blasting drums, rumbling bass and megaton guitar riffs are offset by moments of serenity, slow grooves and moody introspection. Juggling this many influences and styles would seem a daunting task to many bands but Gojira pulls it all together into a massive-sounding album that leaves the listener in a constant state of wonder and anticipation as to what to expect around the next corner.
Chugging stop/starts and pinch harmonics populate “Ocean Planet,” a track that is as cold and progressive as any anything Meshuggah has done but without the mind-twisting, staccato riffs. Vocalist Joe Duplantier channels Devin Townsend with a serious of throaty bellows and the music sounds as colossal as the Strapping Young Lad universe, as well. “Backbone” thunders along with a Morbid Angel-like death metal groove, Mario Duplantier’s drums crashing behind the incessant rumble of Jean-Michel Labadie’s bass chords. Joe Duplantier’s weighty lyrics (“The strength of fire is running through me/Spine like a beam of light/What mortal could ever break this force”) are heavy but Christian Andreu weaves a tapestry of interconnected tremolo-picked riffs that are sheer brutality. Brutal is an understatement on the aptly-named “The Heaviest Matter of The Universe.” The thick, dense sound is supported by a pummeling double bass exercise from Mario Duplantier and the Mastodon-like complexities of Andreu’s riffs simply blow the shutters off anything else on the album. Joe Duplantier’s vocals run the gamut from a guttural death growl to a Neurosis-like drone that puts a blanket of foreboding hopelessness over everything. “Flying Whales” shifts gears with a slow, ambient first third (think Tool) before kicking into a lumbering, groove-filled tempo spilling over with double bass. The Neurosis influence is undeniable on the moody “World To Come” and some psychedelic dabblings permeate “From Mars.” Further Strapping Young Lad intensities shine through “To Sirius” with a gargantuan drum sound from Mario Duplantier and Joe Duplantier once again roaring like the inimitable Townsend himself. Andreu’s arpeggio-laced guitar runs through “Global Warming,” a track chiming hope through a repeated mantra that “we will see our children growing.”
FROM MARS TO SIRIUS is a bulldozing 67 minutes of unrelenting metal heft. Everything here is mercilessly heavy and would be a lot to take in at half that length but to trudge along at over an hour can be a difficult exercise. There is absolutely zero filler on this album but it still would have borne a little more effect if it were trimmed to, say, forty minutes. Length aside, Mastodon should be bowing in defeat to this French band that came out of nowhere to batter listeners into remission with sheer brute force. Gojira’s musicianship never fails to impress and the massive stature of everything contained within FROM MARS TO SIRIUS levels the playing field and stomps on anyone its path.
KILLER KUTS: “Ocean Planet,” “Backbone,” “The Heaviest Matter of The Universe,” “Flying Whales,” “To Sirius,” “Global Warming”