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With the new Gojira album coming out next month, I'll take the time to review their latest effort. The first time I listened to "The Way of All Flesh", my conclusion was that overall it's definitely a heavier record than its predecessor "From Mars to Sirius". At first, I didn't know for sure whether that was a good thing. Sometimes bands lose themselves in trying to be as 'brutal' as possible while they should actually be writing good metal songs. After I gave the record a couple of plays, I found out that Gojira isn't one of those bands. I think this is one of their best albums so far.
It seems that Gojira wanted to go into a heavier direction with this album. After their debut album which was pretty death metal-ish, the band has been experimenting with a more ambient kind of sound, but on this album their death metal and sometimes even groove metal style really dominates. It's a modern metal record with experimental aspects such as the highly-effected vocals on 'A Sight To Behold' and the tribe-like intro to 'The Art of Dying'.
The riffs on this record are pretty innovative from time to time. The famous signature Gojira-pickslide can be heard on several of these riffs. I was most impressed by riffs like the intro riff of 'Oroborus' and the riff at the bridge of 'Wolf Down the Earth'. I am already used to the lack of solos in Gojira's tracks so I won't bitch to much about that, but I do feel urged to say even some simple solos would surely spice up some of the songs on the album. Most of the songs work out well without solos though, as it has become part of Gojira's style. The aggressive style of bass player Jean-Michel Labadie makes the riffs sound even better. Thank god the bass player isn't too low in the mix.
Of course, Mario Duplantier, the band's drummer, also deserves some serious praise for his work shown on this album. I think Mario has become the real star of Gojira. His drumming absolutely defines the way the band sounds and besides that it's also of an extremely high technical level as far as I know (I'm not a drummer). The way he hits the bell of his ride cymbal in his drum fills is just awesome. Amazing double-bass stuff can be heard on songs like 'Toxic Garbage Island'. I do wonder however how much he relies on triggers. I've heard some people say that he even triggers his toms. Even if that were true, Mario does a great job on this album and showcases his mind-boggling drum skills.
Vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier wrote all the lyrics for this album, though Randy Blythe of Lamb of God helped him write the lyrics to 'Adoration For None', who does a great job collaborating with the French death metallers on this track. The main themes throughout the record are contamination and the foolishness of mankind. I think Joe does a great job here. Too bad some lines are more carefully written than others on the album. For instance, on the outro of 'Toxic Garbage Island' he repeatedly screams "Plastic bag in the sea!!!". I found it a somewhat uninspired line but yet very 'to-the-point'. Maybe he just wrote it that way to get the crowd to scream along at live shows. But lyrics like the ones on 'A Sight to Behold' are very well-written, with lines like "We all behave like children, taking off the head of our teddy bear to see what's inside, taking, not giving back".
The album's production is crystal clear, which is very important for this kind of music. Whereas the studio material of some other death metal bands sounds kind of messy, Gojira sounds extremely well on 'The Way of All Flesh'. The guitars sound raw, not too much distortion and neither too much compression. The drums are great. Joe's vocals are loud enough but don't overrule the rest of the band. And as mentioned before, the bass guitar is loud enough to be heard clearly.
This album is just kickass. For me it's even one of the greatest death metal albums of the 21st century. Give this disc the time to grow on you though, I also needed to listen to it a couple of times before fully understanding how awesome it is.
As with many others who have since become fans of Gojira, I was first introduced to this French extreme metal band through their third album 'From Mars To Sirius', which sounded very fresh at a time when metal was feeling all but a little too generic and tired. Instead of continue down the path they had developed with the third album however, Gojira decided to do what any truly great band; to reinvent themselves once again, while retaining their core elements. The final result is 'The Way Of All Flesh', a more challenging listen than its predecessor, more technical, and more dissonant. While it's clear from the beginning that the album demands a greater attention than 'From Mars To Sirius', it is also clear that this is the most profound musical achievement the band has created to date.
Lacking any atmospheric or mellow introduction to ease the listener into the album, 'Ouroboros' starts with a memorable and technical riff over the meticulous and complex drumming of percussionist extraordinaire Mario Duplantier. From this first song onwards, there are still familiar sounds for Gojira; the crushingly heavy guitars, distinctive growls, and a lyrical gravitation towards environmental plights. 'The Way Of All Flesh' takes a greater sense of distinction with the next two tracks however, bringing the music to the brink of technical dissonance, and odd electronic melodies, respectively.
Towards the middle of the album are quite a few tracks that would have easily fit in 'From Mars To Sirius', and are quite a bit less memorable than the songs that really show the band experimenting with their sound. However, although leaving quite a bit less of an impression, these are far from filler pieces. 'The Silver Cord' is a relatively sludgy, but mellow interlude piece, leading into two tracks of technicality and heaviness. The album's highlight then takes the form of the ten minute piece 'The Art Of Dying', which begins with a highly distinctive, meditative drum introduction that slowly builds with each repetition, bringing the listener to a feeling of great tension, regardless of how many times it's already been listened to. Then, just as a listener begins to be lulled into a sense of security, the guitars kick in, destroying the sense of tribal serenity with rhythmic experimentation and heaviness typically associated with Meshuggah.
Something besides the added heavy aspects of 'The Way Of All Flesh' that makes it a unique piece of work is the addition of atmospheric leitmotifs that appear throughout the album, towards the end of a few songs. These can either take the form of space electronic vibrations, or a sombre guitar picking played in reverse. In any case, while the couple of small mellow sections are used quite a few times, they only get more beautiful and introspective with time.
Although with a topic and subject matter slightly less gripping than the fantasy-leanings of 'The Way Of All Flesh', this album's darker and more experimental feel all contribute to give Gojira's first legitimate masterpiece in their careers.
First of all, let me set the record straight. Many have compared Gojira to Meshuggah and I think that's not accurate. Sure I guess in the same heavy experimental odd time signatures and bizarre chord using way, you could call them similar. However what this album demonstrates is how far apart the two bands are and given time listening to this album, you forget about Meshuggah all together.
This is not metal for the simple minded and one quick listen won't do it justice. Gojira fans will be expecting this complexity and they will also tell you that's exactly what they love about them. Some bands chug along but Gojira kind of stutter along. This sounds quite bad but it's this stuttering that makes them so unique. Previous albums have impressed me but I think this album is where they really hit their straps. There is something about The Way Of All Flesh that is so familiar yet so fresh at the same time that after 30 or 40 listens you're still not bored.
"Oroborus" is an unusual opener. It starts with a strange riff of hammer-ons and pick-offs which sets the scene for the entire album because you know you're not going to listen to a straight forward metal album. Many songs from other bands have several ideas that change and progress as the song goes on. Yet on this track it seems Gojira have done the opposite, in fact keeping the same idea and vibe then adding and taking away from it. It's a technique Gojira has used many times before but I think this could well be the archetypal track.
They back up the incredible opener with "Toxic Garbage Island" which starts out with the stuttering along that I described earlier. That is until it gets to a moment of sheer power with the chorus. At mezzo tempo and with Joe growling "Pain is killing me", it's one of the highlight moments of the album. The whole track has a painful feel to it which seems to reinforce their deep belief in enviromental issues.
The album continues with many awesome tracks until it gets to "The Art Of Dying". This track is probably one of my favourite songs of 2008. Starting with a "The Link" feel of a deep groan underlining the snare tapping, it builds and builds until it explodes into a melee of drums bass and guitar fighting against each other until the drums bring it all together with a pounding beat. There are several breakdowns and change of directions in the song. The most notable is the second and final breakdown after which one of the most epic riffs of the 00's starts. It's so good they repeat it for nearly 3 minutes straight but it never gets boring. You can't help but bang your head everytime you hear it.
It's an all round incredible effort from the Frenchmen and I hope it's not a carrer peak. I'd like to see them get better and better with every release. I think they have it in them because even though all albums have common themes, no two are alike and that makes a perfect band. One that can release quality after quality.
To most people who take an interest in metal, the story here should be pretty clear: when it comes down to it, as varied and innovative as it may be, the driving force behind the identity of French metal is Gojira. Although not as extreme as some of the country’s more underground exports, they are without doubt France’s biggest international offering, thanks due largely to 2005’s brilliant ‘From Mars to Sirius’, which is generally considered to be the album that catapulted them to such recognition and acclaim.
To establish what we all may have suspected anyway, the follow up album, 2009’s ‘The Way of All Flesh’ is easily inferior to ‘From Mars to Sirius’. It is still a display of the bizarre mix of “technical simplicity” that has defined their previous releases, but it lacks the progressive edge that made their other CD’s feel fresh and different. ‘Oroborous’, the opener, reflects these sentiments entirely. There is a nice, moody groove that forms the backbone to the track, but Gojira don’t experiment enough with these foundations to make them catchy and interesting. Between the little hooks in the song, there really isn’t that much going on, and it doesn’t take long to feel that the song is beginning to outstay its welcome (which, at under 4 minutes, isn’t all that impressive).
‘Toxic Garbage Island’ follows in a similar vein, although the musicianship and songwriting is slightly improved in that there a few more crunchy (and, at times, pleasing) riffs being thrown around here and there to make it that little bit harder for attention to wane, and the final salvos of ‘PLASTIIIIIC! BAG IN THE SEAAAAAAAAA!” are definite live crowd pleasers, but there is an explorative depth that is tangibly missing, and it becomes obvious pretty quickly, and unfortunately, this is a rinse and repeat formula for the majority of this CD.
Of course, because of the bands’ musicianship and ability, and the fact that they happed to be, y’know, Gojira, nothing they release is ever going to be totally bad. There are some moments of interest on ‘The Way of All Flesh’, some of which come close to harking back to previous albums. Aside from the needless inclusion of that retard Randy Blythe on ‘Adoration for None’, the latter half of the album is decent. ‘The Art of Dying’ is by far the most interesting song to be found here, with a weird, almost aboriginal intro that works its way into a song that finally carries some impact with it, while ‘Esoteric Surgery’ is full of the odd little syncopations that somehow make sense that have become a trademark of the Gojira style over the past few releases.
Frustratingly, however, even the good bits are followed by some really crappy tracks that have somehow managed to tag along for the ride, the heavy as fuck but ultimately one dimensional ‘Vacuity’ coming across as pretty laboured and disinterested, through to the instantly forgettable and boring title track, which feels suspiciously like one big “easy option” track: a bit of double bass here, some chugging there, a slow and semi-ethereal bit here, and there it is. Gojira have proven themselves already, and so we know that songs like this fall way within their musical scope, which is why the album ends on a distinctively low note (no pun intended).
The problem (unlike with some other bands) isn’t that they have progressed in the wrong direction, it’s that they have cut the progressive element out of their music, which has now proved to be vital to their songwriting if this style is going to work properly. Without it, everything is just a bit too comfortable. This could easily play in the background to someone’s house party, and hardly anyone would find many moments that would prompt them to ask “Fucking hell, who is this?!” It’s still the same Gojira, but they have cut a few corners to make this album. If you’re an avid fan and must have everything the band own, then don’t listen to me, you’ll get this anyway. If you don’t know Gojira and want to explore them a bit more, then this almost definitely is NOT the place to start.
Gojira's popularity exploded over the past couple of years, and after many recommendations I've checked them out time after time. The several attempts to get "into" them failed, both with their 2005 breakthrough album and this one, but I suppose the answer is that there isn't much to get into in the first place.
What you basically get here is a modern, slightly industrial groove metal extravaganza with the occasional random technical break. It mostly dwells around in mid-pace without any direction, and the songs suffer horribly from overly repeated riffs and the awkward twists and turns of when they try to become a poor mans Meshuggah. The musicians in the band, especially the drummer, obviously has skills. But technical talent alone falls flat on its ass when the final songwriting result lacks both direction and structure.
To make it further worse, vocals are possibly even weaker than on breakthrough album "From Mars To Sirius". A -coreish bark that is just kind of "there", without any aggression, is coupled with equally vapid clean vocals. There are some really annoying moments that make no sense, kinda like the intro in "A Sight To Behold". Weird overly effected vocals that sounds like they're coming straight of a Pain song. In the best absolute best parts the vocals sound like mid 90's Hypocrisy, which isn't exactly good either, but mostly it consists of the aforementioned bark.
There is really nothing redeeming about Gojira. Superlatives like "epic" is just the opposite of how this sounds. More than anything it's rock based and awkward sounding, often bordering on annoying. If you want good extreme metal from France, check out Benighted and/or Kronos and forget ever hearing about this band.
One of the more interesting bands to emerge from France in the past decade, Gojira return with their fourth album, a stunning work of hypnotic, grooving metal which I simply cannot get enough of. This is a pretty unique band, and they've gotten more so as they've progressed, but if I had to compare this to anyone I'd say it occupies a middle ground between Neurosis, Meshuggah and Prong. You could call it post-metal or post-hardcore and probably be just as accurate, but I am not writing a dissertation on scene semantics, so let's cut to the album itself.
The Way of All Flesh has a masterful mix, in fact it's the best mix I've heard this year. Amazing guitar tone, plodding bass, and balanced percussion. Joe Duplantier's vocals sound intense here, harsh and clear simultaneously. The album begins with "Oroborus", and as if you were staring into its endless coils, the world serpent has you directly in its gazed, hypnotized by the groovy tapped guitar riffing and pummeling bridge. The song is capped off in the end with some scintillating ambiance. A truly amazing track, and it's only the first. "Toxic Garbage Island" begins with a post-hardcore slugfest before slamming into you with this slower paced, simple progression of notes which once again hypnotizes. "A Sight to Behold" begins with some synth-like groove, mesmerizing vocal verse and then another of those sickeningly good tapped riffs. There's almost a shuffle in the band's gait here. "Yama's Messengers" is a heavier, mathematical groove with some lovely chords. "The Silver Cord" is an atmospheric, instrumental. The latter half of the album is consistent in quality, dominated by heavier tracks like "Esoteric Surgery", "Wolf Down the Earth" and the percussive "The Art of Dying".
Lyrics are also decent with this album, some good, some not so great, reminding me of a midpoint between Neurosis' pensive rumination and Meshuggah's awareness and precision:
'Flesh bodies mute and blinded
Roaming uncertain, lost
Releasing a black enormous insect
Out from the chest
Archaic from disease'
Some tangible poetic insight, if not every inch the peer of the music. The Way of All Flesh is the total package for this band, easily eclipsing their earlier albums in style and replay value. Never aping a particular influence. Never less than intriguing. It's one of the most important metal albums this year and a must for anyone who values creative quality. Sure to be a year's end favorite for myself and many other snobs.
Regular perusers of these sultry pages should hopefully not have failed to notice my sheer all-encompassing love of Gojira's 'break-through' record "From Mars To Sirius", a love which isn't a passing flirtation with 'some' band but a passion for those 12 songs which still results in goosebumps after dozens of listens. In my mind I am confident in saying it is in my top 3 albums since the turn of the millennium, no mean feat when you know the size of my collection, alas all thus resulting in some stupidly high expectations on my part for their follow-up three years in the making, "The Way Of All Flesh". The problem with loving a band and/or album so obsessively much is that almost all else is destined to remain in the shadows, so the question is: does "The Way Of All Flesh" see any sunlight?
What had first caught my attention to French metallers Gojira a few years ago now was their adept use of varying tempos and feels not only across the songs of an album, but also within individual songs. Coupled with the fact that in "Backbone" (among others) these ears were presented with some of the damn finest riffs they've ever been assaulted with and the reason for the critical praise lavished upon Gojira is clear. In creating "The Way Of All Flesh" Gojira have stuck very much to the formula perfected on "From Mars..." after the admirable work-in-progress "The Link", which is a recipe featuring "Covenant"/"Domination" era Morbid Angel at their most brutal, the staccato-riffing of Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad at their most complex and massive, gigantic, godzillian vocal patterns that, well, I'll be damned if I've ever heard this side of a Bon Jovi classic. "The Art Of Dying" two-thirds through is the perfect example of these features: the free-spirited nature of the closing half of it's 10-minutes hiding the fact the earlier chorus takes the breath away, unilaterally matching the epic, humanitarian and sociological themed lyrics Gojira specialise in. Just to highlight my point about the power of that 'r' word, the whiplashing introduction to "Esoteric Surgery" cannot be disliked by any converts to the church of Riffology, there is no questioning that.
Looking for weak aspects of Gorjia work is difficult. Production is superb, as is the artwork again, eschewing all conventional metal themes and cliches for another unique presentation. Every performance is spot-on, with brothers Duplantier deserving of special recognition: drummer Mario mixing the heavy and light with the dexterity of an octopus, and Joe on vocals (and guitar) furthering his claim for one of the most recognisable voices in metal with his hoarse, chanted and clean styles used to emphasise the qualities of the music, rather than to simply sit on top. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the album's weakest track, "Adoration For None" is that most clearly emphasised by the style of it's guest vocalist, Randy Blythe of Lamb Of God, bearing unwanted gifts of semi-hardcore chanting and an almost-appearance of a 'beatdown'. Yuk. Claims of a lack of feeling by some in the output of Gojira seems to me wholly unjustified; yes they are well produced, however not 'shiny', but the passion in Joe's vocals with the virtue that Gojira rip out the corking riffs in moderation gives the ones that greet us marked approval.
As if Gojira had a point to prove, opener "Oroborus" is born of a cascading twisting riff, in the process proving Gojira have got better riffs than 95% of others out there. That's after just one riff! More moderately paced, "A Sight To Behold"'s spine lead riff spreads it's infectious influence amongst all others, upon which Joe pessimistically bleats "the way I see things is so simple/ the fact I'm living dying on this land/ exhausted is the realm of nature", sentiments I would claim to share to large degree. So, unlike the state of the Earth, does "The Way Of All Flesh" see sunlight and a positive future? Yes. Direct comparisons with the 10/10 "From Mars..." are difficult at this infant stage but Gojira have avoided settling wholly within it's vast shadow, instead building upon their unique style with another expertly-crafted slab of modern metal for every metaller. There is no arguing with this godzilla.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Last year, I had finally progressed towards the instantaneous expense known to many as "online shopping." Then, with the infinite ocean of malleable merchandising strewn ever so flamboyantly before me, it had dawned on me to finally begin the vast music collection that had haunted me to acquire for so long. So, I did a little 'window shopping,' if you will, and stumbled, somehow, across this, Gojira's "The Way of All Flesh." Of course, I had checked at least two different sites to sway my desire upon, Amazon and this one. Strangely enough, the popular opinion was that this was an impressive work of modern music, the new age of metal for your ears, and the few detractors encountered all seemed to give the mutual impression that this just wasn't their cup of musical tea. Of course, what sold me on the purchase was that one reviewer on Amazon had likened the music on here to a melodic Meshuggah. Having experienced referenced band in the past and remembering not being able to really enjoy them in spite of their interesting song structures because of their continual dissonance, I decided to purchase this album along with one other to take advantage of the free shipping.
Let's recap: I bought this album based on a couple of words from a review from Amazon.com.
Note to self, and everyone else, for that matter: Never trust a review from Amazon.com.
I'm going to admit, this really isn't my thing, either, but I want to know just what the fuck it is that people hear on this album that propels their enjoyment to near-unanimous praise. Sure, credit is due to some complex rhythms here and there, but overall, this is one rather boring chugfest that meanders too often to be of any auditory pleasure. I hear not Meshuggah here in the least -- I hear Lamb of God here all the time. No, that's an overstatement to be honest -- Lamb of God is fucking Exodus at their zenith compared to this slow, thick, slimy journey through randomness and atmosphere. The guitars do not harmonize well, which gives credence to the whole "dissonance" thing I've been moaning about, the music does not progress upon any good ideas (Hey, the ambient tracks here may be filler, but what if....), and the drummer sounds like a scared version of Lamb of God's own drummer, which isn't very impressive to begin with, as he plays along safely to the guitars' strange melodies. Oh, sure, there are moments where the music shows promise, such as a few key riffs and sections occasionally, but on the whole, this is a rather pointless exercise in attempting to drolly differentiate the music among the diverse majority of other works being peddled to the masses.
Take the very beginning of the CD, for example -- it starts out with a nice little guitar part taking the lead that actually shows some promise that the next seventy five minutes will prove worth your hard-earned money. But even then, any half-hearted listener can discern the onset of a virulent hour -- the lead riff goes on longer than necessary before looping, the drumming is excessively careful in staying within its own boundaries, thus leading to a noticeable lack of excitement, the background riff is nothing but one chord chugging along at a moderate pace, and when the vocals kick in, they do nothing to improve upon the already lackluster music. Combine all of this together, and you have yourself a rather somnolent opener that does nothing but progress along to the ambient closer that's supposed to introduce the next track.
And then I realized I still had over an hour left. Holy crap, this is not fucking happening.
As it was, the rest of the album was very, but I mean VERY uninviting. An abridged version of the rest of The Way of All Flesh, so as to prevent further violent infection: After passing pointlessly through the next track and guiltily enjoying the opener to A Sight to Behold, I was viciously assaulted and sodomized by the dual onslaught of the remainder of a rather childish track, followed by what is probably the worst possible execution of slow chugging on Yama's Messengers, leaving me a bloody mess only a quarter through this excruciating journey. Conversely, The Silver Cord was there to assuage the aural agony with its calming passage of substantial interlude, which was enough for the moment -- I needed a breather after the previous twenty or so minutes. Of course, having let my guard down for two and a half minutes, I was yet again the victim of undue conflict as internecine discord greeted me after the fade and continued to batter me relentlessly until the title track was halfway through, with only very short breaks to breathe that took the form of the ambient breaks in the last five or so songs. ... Sure, Randy Blythe's short appearance during Adoration for None may serve as something of a selling point for any LoG fans, but in this case, his vocals do nothing to improve upon the horrible beating administered via lack of musical integrity, a hapless bystander to the assault of the Duplantier brothers. I must be fair, though -- Joe's vocal performance is not completely totaled by the music, as his diverse range of screams are delivered with enough force that would serve to lead a decent death metal band to success. Oh, and the lyrics don't suck, either, but it's hard to notice that with the discordant music playing over them.
Then I reached the last ambient piece that is the last five minutes or so on the album, and let me tell you, I have never been this glad to hear such a crappy ambient track before in my life. You know something is wrong when the most enjoyment one can derive from an album of seventy-five minutes in (painful, excruciating, mindless, sadistic, malevolent, gruesome, detestable...) duration is in its random interludes. The audible violence wasn't entirely unfruitful, though pinpointing specific parts that support this statement is a rather onerous task, as this would require additional research and blows to the psyche in its accomplishment -- if I recall, there were rather interesting sections in the Art of Dying before its repetitive second half, Vacuity's rhythm was interesting enough for me (though it shouldn't be for you), and Esoteric Surgery was probably the only track where I may, MAY, admit to have taken pleasure in its assault. Otherwise, this is one back alley I wish never to return.
If there's anything I can say, it's that this is probably the biggest disappointment I've ever received from following the popular opinion of one album. (Of course, I'm aware of the axiom of following thine own heart and am a devout believer of such, but then, one must wonder just what reviews are for.) The Way of All Flesh is a boring, uneventful, weak, and overall distasteful amalgam of three instruments that collide like a car accident for over an hour to provide the listener with interesting vocals and musical confusion. Hell, this mess could have used at least a few solos -- oh, that's right, I neglected to mention the fact that solos are pretty much absent from this record. (I may not be entirely accurate, but if after that rather memorable beating I am unable to recall any, then the statement can't possibly be too far from the truth.) I am fully aware that solos alone will not transform a meaningless experiment in music into a worthwhile record, but the manner in which this stridence is formed practically begs for a little pointless noodling. Seriously, even two small separations of thirty seconds each could probably propel enjoyment for The Way of All Flesh to actually desired repeat listens. But no, instead, you get a rather pointless mix of indistinguishable tracks to fulfill or haunt you.
I know that this is going to sound pretty hypocritical, as a review is supposed to have an intended purpose, but you know what? Go ahead and buy this. Everyone else seems to like it, and I'm afraid I must say, this is just not my cup of proverbial tea, as it just sounds like a mess of disharmony to me. The only other advantage to this CD's credit? The other CD I bought with this one was Metallica's Master of Puppets. At least I can say this purchase wasn't a total loss!
Gojira have been called “the French Mastodon” since their popularity skyrocketed in 2005 with their album "From Mars to Sirius." Mainly because back then they and Mastodon shared a somewhat similar sound, Revolver magazine wouldn’t shut the fuck up about either of them, and they both had whales on their album art. Time has separated the two, and while Mastodon are now experimenting with clean vocals, accessibility, and psychedelic soundscapes, Gojira are still sticking with the progressive sludgepool sound, and they’re starting to smell.
People say that Gojira’s sound is hard to nail down, but the Wikipedia article gives an apt description: mix together 80’s Metallica, Morbid Angel, Meshuggah, Neurosis, add a pinch of Eyehategod, a few wires, a giant loogie, some pubes, and of course a good helping of the first two Mastodon albums and the Lifesblood EP, bake until sludgy golden brown and you get Gojira. (Fuckton of M’s in that paragraph ain’t they?)
The album sounds good. It’s mixed by former Machine Head guitarist (more M's!) and current modern metal producer Logan Mader while band leader Joe Duplantier produced the music at his home studio (‘cept the drums which Mader handled). For a (more-or-less) self produced album it sounds really good and heavy.
The art is interesting by Joe. It’s no Mona Lisa, but it helps set the lyrical mood. Instead of environmentalism like the last record, this album takes the same route Metallica took the same year by talking about death, but really, who gives a flying fuck about lyrics anymore? Not like anyone's breaking any new grond on that front anyway.
The tracks as a whole are good, Most of it is a very chuggy Meshuggah/Morbid Angel/Neurosis/late-80’s-early-90’s-Metallica soup mixed with a pinch of Pantera’s jizz with a few sprinkles of eclectic thinking. “A Sight to Behold” starts off with a synth-industrial… thing that was very interesting and made me literally go “What the fuck?!” out loud in a public gathering. “The Art of Dying”’s Opener sounds like it was lifted, yet fittingly so, from Sepultura/Soulfly. (Rather appropriate, considering Joe Duplantier is the bassist for Cavalera Conspiracy.) And “Esoteric Surgery” and “Toxic Garbage Island” (fuckin’ A song title) are just fucking great songs from beginning to end.
But that’s really what’s above average with this album. Almost every single song overstays its welcome, and the good riffs are bashed to the point of annoyance. The kick starter “Oroborus” gets boring after not changing three minutes in, As do “Adoration for None,” “Vacuity,” “Wolf Down the Earth,” “Yarma’s Messengers,” and even “The Art of Dying.” The riffs are great, but not paradigm shifting, and repeating them over and over kills how interesting they are for how annoying they are. In several cases, for example “Adoration,” and “Art of Dying” they take an eternity to fade out making the skip button a necessity.
And the shit is in the drums. They are skillfully played, but someone needs to tell drummer Mario Duplantier that restraint can be a good thing. When the strings slow down sometimes, Mario decides to pull a Cannibal Corpse/Suffocation blast beat that sticks out and is very uncomfortable like a giant anal plug.
Then there’s “The Silver Cord”; a very, VERY Neurosis/Isis styled interlude that… is… just there. The album has 14 songs and a good chunk are over five minutes, which makes it somewhat of a chore to get through, and having a random interlude just seems like filler to use up the ENTIRE fucking CD space. It is fine to use modern CD’s space, but only if every single minute is passionately played. This though really serves no purpose and should’ve been left on the cutting room floor.
“The Way of all Flesh” album is professionally played and has some rather good ideas, but it drags on and is in dire need of restraint especially the drumming. Most of the songs should be cut down so the listener won’t be distracted by porn like I was. I don’t hate long songs. I love Edge of Sanity’s 40 minute long song “Crimson” (the best record of 1996) because it doesn't drag along like this record seems to do and has enough twists and turns in it to keep it interesting.
“The Way of All Flesh” is not a huge pile of shit, but it’s not the masterpiece Revolver Magazine keeps screaming about, and its minuses outweigh the pluses...
If you are a huge fan of Mastodon, then just listen to Mastodon. So many bands like these guys, Kylesa, Baroness, and probably many other bands that no one gives a fuck about have been nibbling at Mastodon’s shins for a while now. People say how “diverse” this album is, but really it’s the contents of a Heavy Metal blender spread way to thin for any real song to be memorable after the first few. If you think Mastodon shouldn’t have evolved and should sound like grey, than go ahead and pick this up, but for the rest of us whose brains still have firing synapses, just keep “Crack the Skye” on repeat.
They are back without changes, but for once we're very happy this way: the long time passed since the previous "From Mars To Sirius" (but they've always been working slow), the big success obtained with that album, as well as the direction the new single "Vacuity" (once again accompanied by a wonderful video) seemed to take them towards the commercial success through artistic suicide.
But not: "The Way Of All Flesh" is not only very nice, but can maintain unchanged the sound matrix of the transalpine band without bothering the listener. Sure, as usual it's not easy to digest a Gojira album, because even when they adopt a more melodic approach – and in this sense the opener "Orobus", with its hypnotic lead guitar lullaby, is exemplary – the songs are so rich in details, their scores so thick that ten listens won't be enough to appreciate all of their tasty solutions and details.
Undoubtedly, the rhythmical side of their songs is astonishing. The almost continuous recurring to mid tempos and groovy riffs must not deceive, the syncopated and powerful arrangements of mr. Duplantier (a monstrous mixture between Tomas Haake and Pete Sandoval) turn every riffs sequence into a labyrinth. It's the middle part of the album especially – that with the songs "Yama's Messengers", "Adoration For None" (maybe the less successful in there) and "All The Tears" to give show of their most extreme Morbid Angel-like side, while it's up to the opening trio – the already mentioned "Orobus", "Toxic Garbage Island" with its unforgettable groove riff, and "A Sight To Behold", with that surprising synthetic riff that evolves in the usual killer walk – to witness about their more modern, catchy and innovative breath. In the end, with "The Art Of Dying", "Esoteric Surgery", "Wolf Down The Earth" and "The Way Of The Flesh", the French band finds the perfect balance between the most melodic earth of the album and the brutal instinct.
Sharing with Neurosis, Burnt By The Sun and Mastodon the same avantgarde sigh, Gojira have the single fault to have never written the perfect album: but also the huge quality not to have ever been just "average". Not even now.
Originally written for Silent Scream http://www.silentscreamzine.com/Home.asp?Lang=ENG
Gojira are starting to build a little reputation. I wouldn’t say one of being the greatest band ever created, but one of a band that you can just count on. The four albums they’ve created, including this newest effort The Way Of All Flesh, are great albums in their own ways. The Duplantier brothers are coming across as proficient songwriters, and they show no signs of slowing down, either.
While many may condemn this album as the poorer cousin of From Mars To Sirius, I’ll be one to disagree, as I think the material here has taken a step up, despite it being stylistically proximate. If you thought the material from From Mars To Sirius was tight and rigid, then you will not be able to get a pinhead through any of the riffs here. The guitars, bass and drums play in intricate formation. I wouldn’t want to imagine the amount of takes needed to get the music as tight as it is. Nevertheless, the final product is very robotic in its delivery…but without the use of triggers.
While I said The Way Of All Flesh is close in style to its predecessor, there are some slight differences here. For one, the track “A Sight To Behold” is a different beast to the two preceding openers. It begins with a synth line, and Joe Dulpantier’s vocals are slightly vocoded, giving the whole song a different edge than most others here. While some listeners will cringe, I actually like it, and see it as a highlight of the album. “Adoration For None” has guest vocals from Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe. I believe he fits into the mold here, but the first half of the song is a little too busy for my liking, yet it’s not a detractor, either. “The Art Of Dying” is THE song of the album, as it’s a 9-minute monster that never feels drawn out or boring. There are several sections to the song, with the tribal-esque opening, the chugga-chugga riff that comes after it, the 2-minute closing riff and the segue into the next song, “Esoteric Surgery”. It’s an excellent song and deserves its praises.
This album also shows some technical sides of Gojira, as well. The opening riff to “Toxic Garbage Island”, while remaining 4/4, sounds more technical in theory than on paper, and it proves a great opener to a great song. “Esoteric Surgery” shows some excellent bass drum work, which apparently was the hardest song to record on this album. They also deliver their signature melodies, the likes of which don’t sound forced or sappy, with tracks like “Wolf Down The Earth”.
With their lyrical themes of nature and Earth (and some killer lyrics about death in “The Art Of Dying”…not gore, but about letting yourself go), it’s still a refreshing theme. This could also be because they don’t come across as “preachy”, either. The Way Of All Flesh continue Gojira’s incredible career, and this is perhaps their best effort to date. Well worth your money and time.
Best tracks: Oroborus, A Sight To Behold, The Art Of Dying, Esoteric Surgery
Like a whale skydiving, Gojira left a colossal dent in the metal scene in 2005 with the overwhelmingly well received ‘From Mars To Sirius’. After backing their new-found acclaim with a successful string of tours -- bringing their bombastic brand of death-thrash-whatever to ever widening audiences -- they kind of fell off the face of the earth. However, all of a sudden, looming over the horizon with a sadistic grin, we have ‘The Way Of All Flesh’, their newest disc. Straight off the bat there’s that infectious ride-cymbal groove that we all know and love, courtesy of Mario Duplantier, and the warm, welcoming sound of a Joe Duplantier riff.
I’ll be honest with you all; I did not care for ‘From Mars To Sirius’, or the Frenchmen’s 2003 effort ‘The Link’, but that notorious ‘tightness’ finally got the best of me with this one. In fact, the screws are turned ever tighter here, as even the sludgy outbursts of ‘From Mars... ’ are condensed into razor-sharp rhythmic poundings, finalising Gojira’s transition from band to part-cyborg riff machine. It is disturbingly easy to get sucked into the power behind it all, and as soon as you become comfortable, they pull something entirely new out of the bag. For example, after opening with ‘Oroborus’ and ‘Toxic Garbage Island’, two standard heavy tracks, we move on to ‘A Sight To Behold’, a bizarre creature based around a simple synth line and vocoded vocals which writhes in anticipation, without ever seemingly reaching that all-important climax point. Still, an exercise like this is entirely satisfying to the listener. Considering ‘From Mars To Sirius’ was a quagmire that wore you out long before it should have, ‘... All Flesh’ is mixed impressively well. A crisper sound is adopted this time, giving every instrument some room to breathe, which can only be a good thing.
For the more environmentally conscious death metaller in all of us, Gojira provide some food for thought about life, our planet and existence itself. Just what we all need, Greenpeace in our metal. Seriously though, for all the merit behind Joe Duplantier’s messages, they can be difficult to follow as often full songs are scribed from very simple ideas and extracting a meaning from them can be a daunting task. Let’s face it though; accessibility is not Gojira’s game, so the eloquence is appreciated regardless. As with each album, Duplantier’s distinctive vocal style comes closer to being one with the other instruments, and thankfully all traces of the grating inflections of ‘The Link’ are now nowhere to be seen. As a frontman and band leader Duplantier really gets the job done, co-writing all music with his brother Mario as well as handling vocals, guitars, production and even artwork to a slick standard.
For all the moderate experimentation and progression they’ve made, Gojira circa 2008 still feels like the same brick-in-the-face Gojira that they always have been. The difference is that this time everything is more streamlined and the fat has been cut so that even the 9 minute ‘The Art Of Dying’, Gojira’s longest song to date, feels neat and tidy, all the while continuing to strike you with the proverbial brick. Even the marginally duff ‘All The Tears’ and ‘Wolf Down The Earth’ have some way of working in the grand scheme of things. The flow of the album’s songs is worth noting, with a good running order and segues between songs varying from an extended ambient break to mere nanoseconds before the next pummelling. All in all, a real classy album, the sort of thing Gojira needed to release to justify their status as an established professional act. Hell, just listen to ‘Vacuity’. You don’t wanna fuck with that.
The French Metal scene is starting to produce many great bands with a modern sound and music that definitely has something to say. One of those bands is GOJIRA, the Bayonne, Aquitaine based Metal act that has managed to reach a pretty good status and get the respect of thousands of metalheads around the world. You know that I am not such a big fan of this whole ’modern’ movement, but these French madmen have absolutely nothing to do with those meaningless noisy bands.
If you think that we are dealing with a new band that is consisted of several ugly teen motherfuckers you are completely wrong, since GOJIRA have been kicking ass since 1998. Just for your info, "Gojira" is the Japanese word for the well known "Godzilla". I guess that a French band with a Japanese name and a totally weird sound has already attracted your attention!
This is GOJIRA’s fourth full-length album, as well as their second through the also French Listenable Records. For you who don’t know this band, I will try really hard to describe their sound, although it is kind of impossible. The band has a classic distinctive heavy down tuned sound with bulldozer-guitars and a bass that causes earthquake. Their music contains many different elements like Death and Thrash Metal, as well as Hardcore touches, but there are more that make GOJIRA a fucking great band! There are times the band may remind you of CYNIC or MORBID ANGEL, as well as breaks that will definitely scream MESHUGGAH or TEXTURES until your ears bleed!
So you get ass kicking music with some brutal vocals, great technique and song structures that won’t let you get bored even if you want to! And it’s not only that. The band has done a great job on the lyrics for one more time, since GOJIRA are known for their themes. Life, death, ecology and spirituality are once again the topics that have been used in this album. Are you still waiting motherfuckers? Go get "The Way Of All Flesh" before the shelves empty!
P.S.: LAMB OF GOD’s guitarist Randy Blythe donates ’guest’ vocals in "Adoration For None".
Originally written for Metal-Temple.Com