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From the sky - 98%

Writhingchaos, February 17th, 2017

I might be putting my head on the chopping block here as far as some fans are concerned, but here’s the thing - I firmly believe that this is Gojira’s best album, hands down. Believe me, having enjoyed all their full-length releases (with the probable exception of their recent release Magma) from time to time, I do not say this lightly. Yes, in my opinion it is even better than The Way Of All Flesh. Not to say I didn't enjoy that album, but somehow I didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I thought I would, finding the whole album rather inconsistent with a few killer picks along the way. No the case with this. Every goddamn song kicks your teeth all the way in, yet mystifies you with the band's unique approach to progressive death metal. The closer “Global Warming” softly fades away bit by bit with a slow numbing melodic assault (the good kind, of course) of gentle guitar hammer-ons and pull-offs.

The opener “Ocean Planet” pulls absolutely no punches with the sound of whales leading into a furious riff storm progression that should have you in the mosh-pit in no time at all. The subtly melodic breakdown towards the end after a furious bout of guitar chugging is quite a surprise and turnaround. Now enough has been said about Mario being a demigod on the drums and suffice to say, he delivers freaking 110%. He always was an exceptionally talented drummer, but my word if you heard The Link and From Mars To Sirius, there’s no way in hell you’d be able to comprehend that it’s that same guy who’s playing. And to achieve such a feat of kicking your talent up several notches in a mere two years! Truly exemplary, to say the least. Check out prime cuts like “From The Sky” (where Joe even showcases his unique blend of a hardcore shout and clean singing making for one hell of a contrast. Check out this song if you’re yet to hear the sound of this band) and “Backbone” and try to keep your jaw from dropping. Not gonna happen. “World To Come” starts on quite the strange psychedelic note (honestly I can’t think of any other way to describe it) with some of the most melodic riffs and progressions on the album along with Joe’s embittered snarling.

For those of you still wondering about the main sound of Gojira, I would say that that the twin influence of Meshuggah and Opeth (incidentally two of my favourite bands as well) are most certainly present as far as the progressive metal influence is concerned, whereas the death and groove metal aspect of the music certainly comes from the searing brutality of bands like Strapping Young Lad and Pantera. If that combo reads as fascinatingly insane to you, then rest assured that it also sounds exactly so! You will hear the death metal influence most on songs like “The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe” (my personal favourite on the album with a bone-crushingly groovy breakdown kicking in at 1:50) “Backbone ”and “Where Dragons Fall” (check out the melodic brutality oozing out from that goddamn intro. Simply masterful). If you’re looking for the most progressive cuts “Flying Whales” (an excellent example of a slow almost post-rockish build-up to an earth-shattering verse with an amazing clean picking mid-section) and “Into The Wilderness” (more on the brutal side with choppy riffs and grooves aplenty) will suit you just fine.

That’s the thing about Gojira. Even if it’s about one goddamn riff, they make sure that it sounds planet-smashingly heavy as fuck. Their scattershot breed of riffing has been put to full potential here. Sure, there were hints of it on The Link, but on this album they seem to have truly seized that potential to the fullest effect. Combine that with Mario’s drumming and you’ve got a hydrogen bomb of a rhythm section right there. Small wonder that this has been called their breakthrough album. What I particularly like about this album is that the band actually put interlude tracks to good use, case in point “Unicorn” and “From Mars” (that leads perfectly into the pounding “To Sirius”) that add to the mysterious and unique atmosphere of this album, not to mention actually progressing from the tracks they’re sandwiched against. A great deal of bands and albums simply use them as a space filler, adding no real depth or musicality to the music as a whole but not these guys.

Let’s face it - it’s certainly not everyday you stumble upon a progressive death metal album that’s thoroughly brutal as fuck with a subtle atmospheric tinge every now and then. Which is exactly why this is one of the few places where the term “thinking man’s metal” can actually be used. Bold words indeed, but once you hear the album (or if you already have), you’ll surely understand what I mean. If you are yet to hear this gem, kindly remedy the situation with haste. It may take some patience and repeated listens (it is quite the long album after all, but really doesn’t feel as such), but it’ll be more than worth it in the end. Just trust me on that one.