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After their boring and plodding 2008 album, The Way of All Flesh, my expectations for this album weren't particularly high. After listening to "L'Enfant Sauvage" and "Liquid Fire", my hopes got a little higher. Then the full album was released and the album won me over. It seems as though Gojira have learned from past mistakes, and all the experimentation it took to reach this point was well worth it. Gojira's sound on this album shows that they are maturing in a way that is both intelligent and natural.
The first major difference between The Way of All Flesh and this album is that Gojira have managed to create song structures that are shorter and less plodding. Gojira are good song writers, but shorter song lengths are an advantage for them here. The songs on The Way of All Flesh felt like they were simply wasting your time. The amount of transitions wasn't enough to keep the music interesting, and the songs just kept going far too long. Not only that, but when Gojira did something on that album which was really good, they had a transition to material that was absolute boredom. The fact that Gojira have kept themselves distant from their fatal flaws on the 2008 album makes their maturity as musicians easily visible.
The album itself is well structured as well. An interlude is found in the form of "The Wild Healer" and is actually very well placed. The song helps keep the album from droning on. Another key factor about this album is that the songs are varied. The shorter song length coupled with the numerous transitions in each song helps keep the album interesting. The songs on here aren't aiming for speed, but the instruments help keep the pace going and don't allow the songs to become too slow.
Another major standout quality on this album is the guitar work. Gojira really plays around with the solid guitar tone they utilize. The combination of the grooves they write and the guitar tone makes for some really enjoyable moments. The opening to "Explosia" has a riff that is as groovy as it is heavy.
A quality of this album which might bother some people is the vocal effects. There are moments throughout the album where Joe Duplantier sounds a bit robotic, but this isn't a major annoyance for me. The effects are used well, and don't show up too much. Speaking of Joe Duplantier, his vocals on this album don't hold back at all. His vocal style is easily recognizable among the metal community for its power and tone.
This is the Gojira album which has the most highlight moments for me. The opening to "Explosia" is fun to listen to numerous times in a row. "L'Enfant Sauvage" switches from soft to heavy material. "Liquid Fire" uses some entertaining vocal effects. "The Wild Healer" is a tranquil interlude with an upbeat sound. "Mouth of Kala" has a ferocious and powerful chorus. "The Gift of Guilt" has a building guitar riff which is used for the chorus and adds to the epic feel of the track. "Born In Winter" start out slowly, then becomes heavier and makes room for some excellent guitar work. "The Fall" is an eerie song which also uses vocal effects at times, and is the perfect closing track for the album.
Are there some boring moments on this album? There are a few, but they are kept very brief. "The Axe" is the least interesting song on here, but still manages to give the listener some elements that spark their interest. The album has enough well-made music on here to make the album worth the buy, and each song has its own personality. Is it the best Gojira album to date? In my opinion, it is. The level of maturity on this album is superior to all of their past material. I am thoroughly impressed to see the leap from The Way of All Flesh to this. For Gojira fans, the four year wait was well worth it, and because of this album, my hopes for the band have increased tenfold.