Album Reviews

GOJIRA – Magma

  • Release date: 2016-06-17
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • Review by: Manaswi Gundi

For years now, bands have been experimenting with their sounds. Opeth has been doing it for ages now and seem to have settled on being more mellow and head out of the Death Metal shell they were in. But, in what is a very surprising release, Gojira has moved away from their heavy, groovy riffs and fast paced rhythms to a more doom based sound with Magma. This album is quite interesting in terms of the sound and concept as a whole for a band that has made a name for itself for delivering explosive songs and concerts. Do not mistake this as an attempt to gain more audience and sell more records. This sudden change in sound can be attributed to the loss of the Duplantier brothers’ mother to cancer in the midst of the recording process.  What we get, is hence, an album filled with emotion and anguish. Each song in the ten song offering is personally motivated and not politically charged like on the previous albums.

Joe Duplantier mixes up his vocals often and it does not necessarily pay off well. Personally, I would have preferred if his clean vocals were kept to a bare minimum, as an interlude to his stronger growls. Some of the songs, like The Shooting Star, Low Lands and Magma give off a post-rock vibe with Joe’s clean singing and intriguing guitar tones. The Shooting Star is not the typical Gojira album opener, but then nothing on this album is typical Gojira. No wonder this album has all the “purists” up in arms. Low Lands has a bit of a more positive vibe to it on the album with lyrics that are livelier and more hopeful than the rest. Lyrically, this album has been the strongest. The most powerful songs on this album, not just lyrically, are Stranded, Silvera, The Cell, Only Pain and Pray. Stranded is a gorgeous track, the guitar squeals making Gojira so much catchier than before and the chorus making it into a headbanger’s delight. Silvera is the best track off of this album and also the closest they has been to the previous releases. The Cell is fast paced and showcases Mario’s dynamicity. The way Pray starts off, reminds me of songs in The Link. Yellow Stone and Liberation are instrumental tracks and honestly, I skip them whenever I’m listening to Magma. But that is more of a matter of preference than an indicator as to the quality of the tracks.

Grief can make most people do odd things. In the Duplantier’s case, it brought out the best in them, musically. Magma is not the album Gojira purists wanted. It is, however, an album that is a fitting eulogy to the Duplantiers’ mum. When asked in an interview to describe the album, Joe Duplantier simply responded with “Therapy”. Passionate and full of emotions, Magma is one of the albums of the year. Not without flaws, but then, not every album can be a From Mars to Sirius.