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Neither of the two genres by which I know Gojira best are a very good description of the band. On the one hand, they don't have enough pace or ferocity or meanness to be a death metal band, although they do (at times) possess the same earth-moving, incensed intensity as any death metal band you would care to mention. On the other, there is far too distinctive a Gojira sound to call these guys progressive, yet all the light and shade, innovative instrument use, and unique writing style does make them good candidates for the position. Then we have groove metal, which I never usually think of on my own. Gojira do groove, and quite deliberately too in places, but then they groove in the same way that Fear Factory groove, like on the percussive title track, or (and this isn't the same thing) they groove in the way that Amon Amarth do, like on the opening riff of 'The Axe'. I really don't think they sound like Meshuggah all that much, despite their similar artist rating on the Metal Archives. Maybe both vocalists bark and the drums tend to be complex and prominent, I guess - that's not really enough for me.
Thus, Gojira end up largely unique in my eyes, with a sort of smooth death metal or frozen progressive metal feeling that gives them quite a lot of atmosphere and quite a bit of heaviness. I never feel that they fully get the measure of either of those things on their own, often becoming too fixed in a featureless riff or completely out there on a soaring vocal passage that rises on an oddly top heavy construction. Then there are times when the band's unusual approach to heaviness is simply enormous and oppressive - that incredible harmonic that sounds like a dolphin on a helter-skelter near the beginning of 'Planned Obsolescence' - or the vocal and rhythmic fury is overwhelming, in the way that Strapping Young Lad were capable of on occasion. They are a different experience to other bands, and the listener must accept them as such.
For all that, I don't think that 'L'Enfant Sauvage' (they just wanted something French didn't they?) has as much creativity or forward-thinking as the preceding albums. The epic touches are gone, while the huge groove riffs like 'From the Sky' have disappeared too, and with them a little of that fatter guitar tone. For me, that was great, because Gojira used to be a catchy band in a way that they don't achieve on this album; also, they seem to run out of ideas on a few songs ('Mouth of Kala', perhaps 'Explosia') and just let them finish in a relaxed, non-committal manner, like they were hoping no one would notice. I'm disappointed with the guitars in general, except for the Gojira-esque touches - the aforementioned 'Planned Obsolescence', the excellently varied 'The Gift of Guilt', and the palm-muted riff of 'Pain Is a Master', which actually sounds best, since it is suited for the production. There are still no solos and no specific melodies, though often there are contrasting heavy and clean parts that get pushed together more for atmosphere and momentum than anything else. The circling hammer-ons are quite a feature, nor do I mind them, though I can't help wishing that they was another feature or two to make things more interesting. The drums are also very typical for Gojira, with a lot of Mario Duplantier's hammering beats: they vary in pattern and intensity and certainly in pace, but don't do enough to make up for the other absences. Bass is strong and scrambles about nicely in the hammer-on sections and the chugging riffs, though, again, it isn't a virtuoso performance.
All this means that we have a plain set of songs with scant attention-grabbing touches. The harmonics, pick scrapes, hammer-ons, and softer parts are all very well to give some detail and diversity to the songs - and it these things I remember most - but they can't do everything, and we must turn to the songwriting and production for answers. Only a couple of songs really have enough content to last their length: I prefer 'The Gift of Guilt', 'The Axe', and 'Born in Winter' the most out of these songs, while I have little praise for the title track, 'Mouth of Kala', or 'The Fall'. One reason might be a diminished presence for Joe Duplantier, whose vocals are so often the driving force of Gojira's elemental sound. He is a little quiet, a little restrained, an ounce more lamenting than he used to be and - with the absence of enough riffs - leaves the songs without an anchor and without a clear focus. The songs on 'L'Enfant Sauvage' drift in a more progressive manner than ever before, yet don't have the ideas to call themselves progressive. It's not a totally bad release, but a failure by Gojira's standards.
Gojira is one of the most iconic metal bands of today. They have an instantly identifiable style, and a strong ecological message that may be entirely unique in the genre. They also write some excellent music that pleases a wide swath of fans, leading to a rare combination of both mainstream and underground appeal. While they aren't universally beloved, few bands come close.
They have this annoying tendency to take years between releases. They blew a lot of people away with 2005's From Mars to Sirius. It wasn't until 2008 that they released one of my favorite albums of that year, The Way of All Flesh. It was well worth the wait. They made us wait another four years before releasing L'Enfant Sauvage. Was it also worth it?
I'm a little late getting this review out there, so by now you've already heard a dozen different opinions, and maybe had a chance to form your own. But perhaps I can illuminate the discussion.
The record hits all of the things the band has become known for. Heavy groove/death metal with their signature guitar screeches ("Explosia"). Interesting rhythms and high-pitched leads (the title track). Duplantier's unique roar, Cynical computer-effect voice, and rough-edged singing ("Liquid Fire"). A mellow interlude ("The Wild Healer"). They even managed to record an epic featuring understated music and spoken word, followed by the heavy, dramatic part--and finished it in under 4 minutes ("Born in Winter"). The songs are catchy, hook-filled, groovy, and pissed-off. As always, an unlikely blend of Pantera, Cynic, and a bit of Meshuggah.
But L'Enfant Sauvage is sorely lacking one thing. It has no "Oroborus," no skull-smashingly destructive, unbridled outpouring of fury. They've thoroughly explored their morose side, and to be fair Gojira still sound enraged in their sad mode. Every song has at least one foot in that mood. But it sounds like, in the last four year period, they've lost that little bit of hope they used to have. It's no longer the band hitting you with a hammer and telling you to wake up. Now it's the band who've given up. They're still mad, but it's become an aimless emotion.
The music is still excellent. As individual songs, they've got a lot to offer. But I really miss getting hit with that hammer.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Gojira's fifth full-length release (first with Roadrunner) is everything that we have come to expect from a Gojira record. Following the precedent that was set by From Mars to Sirius and cemented by The Way of All Flesh, L'Enfant Sauvage (meaning "the wild child" in the band's native French) still focuses heavily on their particular, some might say unique, brand of groovy, complex death metal, while adding some new things, such as greater emphasis on groove and extended rhythmic passages. Also, the band, in their increasing age, have mellowed a bit, trading some of the fiery, youthful rage of their earlier releases for a more mature, smouldering musical experience.
As far as quality of playing and production, it's slick and spotless, without being overproduced or robotic. The production is crisp and clear, and every instrument stands out without being buried in the mix. Mario's drumming is punchy and tight, while Joe and Christian's guitar is loud and clear, without being distorted, too loud or muddled. Even Jean-Michel's bass is prominent, instead of being relegated to a faint low-end rumble like so many other bands. The compositions, while meticulously orchestrated, still flow quickly and easily.
The music follows a logical progression from the last album; the complexity has been scaled down somewhat, while rhythm has been emphasized. Taken at face value, the music may seem to be oversimplified. I was almost afraid that I'd be bored by this album, but upon repeated listens, the fine details of the music shine through. The opening track, Explosia, lives up to its name. It begins with a bombastic stop-start riff, trades into a similar fast chugging riff, and then ends with a slow, rhythmic section. The title track follows in a similar vein, but axes the longer rhythmic passage. Most of the songs focus on rhythm, not only in long breakdown-like passages, but in the riffs themselves.
All told, this is a very solid release from an excellent band. I was afraid that with their jump to a major label, there might have been a major compromise in their signature sound. These fears have been proven to be completely unfounded. My only real complaints is that a couple of the songs are a little bit formulaic or faceless (The Axe and Pain Is a Master) and that a few of the songs could have used a little bit of pruning (Explosia, The Axe, Planned Obsolesence for its long ambient outro) and parts of the album lack overall complexity or aggression. However, these should not discourage you from picking up the album or enjoying it. If anything, it retains a certain amount of freshness on repeated listens that some of their other albums lack. Enough of my word diarrhea; if you're a Gojira fan, get this album no questions asked. If you're just getting into Gojira, you may not want to start off with this album, as good as it is. Try From Mars to Sirius as a first listen instead.
What a truly enjoyable album. The vocals sound great, from his chaotic bellows to his vicious shouts to his toned down talk-singing, it sounds perfect. One thing I would criticize though is a lot of the lyrics seem to make either no sense, have no flow or have no relativity to the previous verse. The singing and lyrics are a little scattered or seemingly misplaced at times, but they are carried through well with intense guitar riffs and technical rhythm and drumming. The instruments are absolutely mind-blowing, this albums technicality really made up for my disappointment of Meshuggah's new album, Koloss. If you felt that the aforementioned was a slap to the face, you should probably check L'Enfant Sauvage out. You can listen to this album over and over and never get tired of it.
This album has such amazingly strong staples on it such as Mouth of Kala and Born in Winter. Mouth of Kala is easily one of my new favourite songs, the second that drum crashes down in one fell strike as the song starts you know you’re in for a treat. The intro and outro are so hypnotic you will have it stuck in your head for weeks. The guitar is so melodic and heavy, speaking of which, this album is a LOT more melodic than Gojira's previous releases. It sounds good though, nothing against it. A step in a different direction, but everyone does that eventually, and I support it. There are parts to this album where it becomes somewhat repetitive, especially one major repetition throughout the entire disc where they use this sort of very fast, soft, high pitched guitar riff every once and a while over top of their rhythm. It does get a little annoying sometimes since they do it on literally over half the songs. There is one very nice and relaxing instrumental halfway through the album that is very, very catchy, that is basically just this wild sounding loopy guitar riff with a pacing rhythm guitar following it and some keen soft drumming throughout. One of my favourite tracks off the album.
I love this album, I LOVE their other releases as well but I find myself listening to this one far more than their others. A great album altogether, I don't see how anyone could be saddened after hearing this. Bonus: it only costed me $13, compared to most $20 new releases. I tip my hat to you French bastards; you guys sure do make good music.
"There is light in this world I fight for," one of the most powerful lines throughout the album (found at the title track @ ~1.50), one which Joe sings more enthusiastically than any other line. And there is light to find in this album, but you have to dig deep.
I have personally been waiting for this album for just under 4 years since their previous effort; 'The Way of All Flesh.'And whilst that album changed the face of prog-death, their follow-up could not be more anticipated or openly appreciated once released. But, for such a well respected band like Gojira, could these expectations be met, or is the album just a fill-in for Roadrunner to release a more purchased and mediocre Trivium effort?
To interpret this album correctly, you must approach it with a neutral stance. No drooling fanboy bullshit that has engulfed the metal community for years (just look at my previous reviews: Chimara are shit, but I love them). So once you get past the fact that L'Enfant Sauvage has a avent-garde style cover (which the Duplantier brothers love) and is close enough to Elephant Sausage in english as you would get in metal, you find yourself listening to an almost-hour long effort, split up into 11 grueling tracks. The same problem arose with TBDM - too many songs. "But too much of a good thing isn't bad for you, right?"
The lead riff for almost every song has a fret slide, something that really gets on my nerve. It's not even like it balances throughout the song, anyway. Zakk Wylde uses his squeals more effectively in the song 'Addiction' by Dope - and they're everything that is wrong with metal. The riffs are catchy, but lack-luster; they hold little variation. And whilst it's important to use the same turning for every separate album, it's the same old fashioned open D tuning as every other album they churned out. If you listen to this album expecting amazing and life-changing guitar solos in an odd-time signature, you will be disappointed. And whilst the guitars sound off, almost purposefully, they fit the tone and experimentation of the album perfectly. Even just listening to 'Pain is a Master,' while the riff matches Joe's voice so perfectly, it's breathtaking. I mean that in the most metal-ly way.
The title track of the album so concisely matches the underlying theme of the album. And whilst this album is not a concept album, Joe gives a precise explanation to its message - even if it's nothing more than a ploy to sell more copies to industrial suckers for sap. But this track is an absolute standout, flawless in almost every way - if taken independently from the album as a whole. Mario's bell pierces the thick, rich bass riffs, whilst Joe's voice circulates a post-grunge style, similar to that of the new Decapitated. But the song does host the small issue of being boring as fuck. 10 seconds of build-up, going into a Gojira-style cliche riff with drum infused polyrhythms on the bell. This is more pointless than the minute build-up to 'The Art of Dying.' The song is fantastic in itself, but boring compared with the rest of the album. In fact, the whole album is boring.
But it's brilliant, a masterpiece. No, I'm not contradicting myself here. In the same way that Morbid Angel can put out a shitty effort that sounds good, Gojira can put out a good effort that sounds shit. There's nothing new in this album. No fantastic new concept style that will change the face of metal as we know it. Not even the auto tune in 'Liquid Fire' can change the style of Gojira. And thats how everyone likes it, its everything you want in a Gojira work. Its artsy, its mighty, it's boring, it's Gojira in its finest hour. You see, I've found the one thing that is wrong with this album - its originality. And that's the only thing wrong with this album. That's a good thing, because everything matches so perfectly otherwise. If you change the originality, you change Gojira, and then you get the same thing that happened to Metallica. It's called Trujillo-symptom. It's a good thing Gojira have a solid lineup.
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.
Gojira have celebrated the 10th anniversary of their creation last year, hailing from France the band have released a total of four prior full-length releases and a handful of other things like EPs, singles and a demo. The Way of All Flesh, their 2008 effort, skyrocketed the group into instantaneous fame and soon became the band on the tip of tongues worldwide. L'Enfant Sauvage is the fifth and latest full-length to be added to Gojira's discography, does it deserve to be in yours?
It can go ahead and be said that the entirety of L'Enfant Sauvage has clear production with depth and track separation, the musicians are adept with their respective instruments, and there is a luminous energy and passion that surrounds the music. Gojira have constantly evolved throughout their 11 year reign, and while they still incorporate groove riffs with the heaviness of death styled bass and drumming, the band have moved onto a more heavy melodic death metal sound that is influenced by melodic death legends such as In Flames and Amorphis.
While the content that lies within this recent effort is decent, it's laminated with highly generic overtones and showcases homogeneity throughout. Expect to hear an audible environment thriving with pick slides, alternated picking sections, clean vocal choruses and verses, and minor guitar effects that attempt to bring the listener back to the music. "The Gift of Guilt", being one of the highlight tracks, has a nifty part that incorporates the use of slider effects to bring attention back to the music, sliding down the neck of the guitar before quickly going back up and down again in a sort of jerk sensation.
"Explosia", "The Axe", "Mouth of Kala" and the title track "L'Enfant Sauvage", along with the track mentioned prior, "The Gift of Guilt", have been given the most stand-out composures amongst the eleven songs present. There is some really heavy double bass drumming, wrist snapping fast tremolo picking, a few neat guitar effects, and a driving bass to tie it all together.
Is the content on L'Enfant Sauvage bad? No, it is generically decent material that's sorely lacking anything truly memorable or outstanding. Even though this is one of the shorter Gojira albums, the songs feel elongated with filler and no real defined atmosphere or mood and except for the highlights mentioned above most of the tracks feed off one another, becoming redundant. Gojira fan or not, this one is a pass.
- Villi Thorne
Easily one of my most anticipated releases this year, Gojira's fourth album comes at a point in which the French band's star couldn't possibly be rising along a steeper incline. Strong label support from the cold/hot Roadrunner, doubtlessly huge touring plans, a backlog which has only progressed in quality since the 2001 debut Terra Incognita, and an audience which seems to transcend any particular pigeonhole into which you might place it, they've got the chops and support to become one of the premiere 'groove' metal icons in the world. L'Enfant Sauvage is not likely to disappoint anyone with a strong connection to the past releases, and proves a pleasurable listen of some depth through numerous spins.
That's not to say it's a masterwork, or even that it surpasses From Mars to Sirius or The Way of All Flesh in quality, because for the first time in the band's chronology, I feel like we're faced with an album that does not progress from its predecessor in any blatant, meaningful way. The post-hardcore inflected rhythm guitar chugging, perky emotional tremolo or tapped melodies, expressive percussion and gruff vocals all return are by now all par for the course on a Gojira record, and the patterns proposed here do not carve themselves a new path through their sonic framework. If there's one exception, it might be the sheer atmosphere evinced through a tighter, more compacted space than The Ways of All Flesh. This is a shorter album, with only the opener "Explosia" eclipsing six minutes, and the Frenchmen manage to effectively exhibit mood and tone with no need for rampant technicality or undue complexity, while retaining the same modernist aesthetic in the riffs and lyrics which broke them out from the depths of the underground.
Where I enjoy this band the most is in their ability to communicate a hybrid of psychedelic and mechanical emotions through the hypnotic structure of the note progressions, and L'Enfant Sauvage has not let me down in this regard. The way the lush tapping repetition in instrumental "The Wild Healer" plays off the sludgier rhythm guitar, ringing ambiance and lightly distorted bass is so beautiful I wanted it to go on forever (it's not even 2 minutes long), while the denser chugging and harmonic sweeps of cuts like "Planned Obsolescence" build to an efficacious battering ram of headbanging payout. The vocal arrangements here are enormous and inspired, almost as if one were experiencing a robotic, post-metal Pink Floyd on "Liquid Fire"; and the use of cleaner guitars throughout the record ("Pain is a Master", etc) do not derail from its numbing convocations of wrenched violence and fragile melody.
Production and performance are two huge factors for Gojira, and the former is sleek and potent here which is truly key to the band's simplistic, palm-muted calculations. Without the strong mix, recorded in New York and assisted by Josh Wilbur (who has also worked with the popular Lamb of God), such a tactic might not yield such a penetration in the listener's skull. Everything is as clear as day, yet as heavy as nightfall. Mario Duplantier's beats are never showy or overly indulgent, but surprisingly organic considering just how damn mechanical the overall writing can often seem. As usual, I love Joe's vocals for their unique timbre, whether jarring and hoarse or ascending to some wistful, fulfilling harmony. Always, he sounds like an internal monolog being cyphered through the listener, one of great pain and joy and volume.
If anything holds L'Enfant Sauvage back, it's that the actual structures of the riffs here just don't seem all that novel or wholly consistent in their compulsion. Individually, the very stripped down note sequences don't hold a lot of replay value, so without the vocals, drumming and full, ooze of the bass, they might seem a bit undercooked. The band lacks the benefit of surprise here, and there are few songs quite at the level of an "Oroborus" or "Ocean Planet" in breadth of power. But that said, I've still been enjoying the heck out of this thing, despite its failure to set any new bars. It's a case where the phrase 'more of the same' doesn't equate with a negative resonance, and Gojira's balance of crushing and subtlety still shakes my teeth.