Monday, July 23, 2012

Gojira: L'Enfant Sauvage (2012)

No Oroborus

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.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy L'Enfant Sauvage

1 comment:

  1. I love this album. I think it's a contender for best album of the year.