Album review: Gojira – Fortitude
A logical step forward, a step back without incident
France’s Gojira has been one of the most engaging heavy groups to make their way with impact into at least part of the mainstream. From Mars to Sirius (2005) and 2008, The path of all flesh seriously held their own in the days when alternative and nu-metal were the dominant forms of heavy music. Additionally, despite usurping some influence from progressive metal epics and death metal misanthropy, Gojira has carved out a very distinct and widely popular path for himself.
In the version Magma (2016), fans saw the group take what was just a simple idea on The Wild Child (2012) and run with everything. What did Magma The transition from unpredictable, youthful anger and even extended song structures to a more focused, directed and in some ways sterile approach to aesthetics and sound stood out. Much of that and more carried over to their last long-play, Courage (2021).
Holding no punches (we’ll get to that), right off the bat, Gojira gives way to their brilliant guitar overtones and the complex and racy polyrhythmic dynamics of brothers Mario (guitar and vocals) and Joe Duplantier. The album’s opening and debut single, “Born for One Thing,” also draws people in with one of the best breakdowns of Gojira’s entire career. The technicality and even the sporadic stealthy nature should hint at more to come.
The second track and single, “Amazonia”, is used as a vehicle for the group’s lyricism (and Musical clip) for environmental activism, and although one of the less interesting tracks, suffices as a good debut in “Another World”. The ostinato riff on “Another World” sounds a bit like “Oroborus” from The path of all flesh (2008). As the riff builds up it comes to a climaxing peek.
The “Hold On” and “New Found” tracks begin to lose focus and not have much power if at all. As you focus less and less on a push-pull structure, you can’t help but feel like the songs never really go anywhere. Found even later on “The Trails,” with what is usually Gojira’s trademark intros and extended sections like no other, are now simply lifeless, plateaued, and overall endless. Even more, the traction seems lost with a weird and unnecessary interlude title song.
“The Chant” confirms Gojira’s passage into the world of slightly proggy alternative metal, and once again, fails to deliver and deliver the true courage and oomph that is known to define Gojira. Similar to the closer album ‘Grind’, the song’s writing comes across as stitched together and lazy, rather than a cohesive, mature, and innovative masterpiece that made Gojira so epic.
Tracks eight and nine, “Sphinx” and “Into the Storm”, are by far the most interesting songs of the second half of the record, underlined by extremely strong choruses (something else that the band has fully embraced) , esoteric drums and vocal overlays, in addition to an authentic and believable atmosphere.
One of the biggest qualms to have is, of course, the tired bashing of Duplantier’s vocals, a signature of many heavy music fans once the harsh vocals are gone. Rather, however, the problem is their crushed nature that seems to fight off the other instruments and parts of the mix, rather than being the perfect vocals they deserve to be. One can blame the audio production, someone else can blame Joe Duplantier for going for softer and more melodic vocals, but it is true that the songs could certainly have benefited from a stronger vocal presence at one. title or another. A lot could also be said about the production of instruments.
While Gojira certainly doesn’t hold any punches Courage, there is a lack of punch, and just energy, although this is a heavy metal album. There is a lack of vibe and liveliness, despite being a version of Gojira. Full support could and should be given to any group that decides to experiment and evolve as an entity, but if Gojira is fully engaged it will need a bit more work.