Gojira – Fortitude (2021)

Band – Gojira

Line Up –

Joe Duplantier (Vocals/Guitar)

Christian Andreu (Guitar)

Jean-Michel Labadie (Bass)

Mario Duplantier (Drums)

Producer – Joe Duplantier

Release Date – 30th April 2021

Label – Roadrunner

This is the seventh full length release from these French tech-metallers and truth be told, it’s the first time I have been looking forward to one of their albums. I bought their third record, From Mars To Sirius in 2005 but I just wasn’t feeling it. It was impressively put together and contained all the elements that make a great metal record but unfortunately left me feeling cold. I have dipped in and out of subsequent releases, always admiring their work but never having a true liking for it. This album changes that completely!!

Following a string of pre-album singles that I felt were all excellent snapshots of where this band were now at, the album became one of my most anticipated of the year – it doesn’t disappoint. It’s not a million miles away from their previous releases, still full of thick, heavy riffs, incredibly powerful drumming, elements of prog but this time it’s delivered with a warmth and accessibility that draws you in completely.

It’s no easy listen (no pun intended) by any means, this is still huge, pounding metal that you’re not going to hear on daytime radio anytime soon, it’s the little tweaks and updates that carry this to the next level. The production is massive, everything hits hard but has a widescreen, epic feel to it that gives you the impression that these guys are aiming for the upper echelons of the metal rankings – and they are most certainly hitting those spots here. It’s produced by vocalist and guitarist Joe Duplantier and mixed by metal legend Andy Wallace and has a crisp, clear sound that just makes everything snap that much harder. Much like Machine Head’s The Blackening (2007), this is an album that isn’t afraid to incorporate complex structures and lengthy songs but adding a sheen and melodic aspects that make the whole thing far more accessible to outsiders. Similar to how Mastodon managed to get glowing mainstream press reviews and non-metal listening fans, Gojira are in that sweet spot of creating something heavy but interesting, dynamic, not just bludgeoning you over the head with a relentless fury (which, don’t get me wrong, is more than welcome at times!!).

It’s a record that is so textured, the layers to each track mean that you hear something new on each subsequent listen. Take a song like ‘The Chant’ for example. An absolute highlight of the album, it’s melding of melodic harmony vocals to almost Soundgarden esque riffs are both beautiful and brutal simultaneously. ‘Into The Storm’ is one of the faster tracks on the record, the drumming on this needs to be heard, but also contains the records’ most anthemic, uplifting chorus, absolutely perfect for any festival that they’re sure to rock across the next 12 months. There isn’t a bad song on here, everything works and I seem to have a new favourite every time I give it a spin.

It’s early days but it will take some going for someone to release a record that stops this from being metal album of the year. Putting genres aside, it’s a sure thing that it will feature highly on my overall albums of the year list, it’s just that good. Fans of the aforementioned Machine Head, Mastodon and even Sepultura/Soulfly should definitely check this out and anyone with an interest in the heavier end of the musical spectrum will find plenty to love on this tremendously rewarding album.

Track Listing

1. Born For One Thing – 8/10

2. Amazonia – 8.5/10

3. Another World – 9/10

4. Hold On – 8.5/10

5. New Found – 8/10

6. Fortitude – 7.5/10

7. The Chant – 9/10

8. Sphinx – 8/10

9. Into The Storm – 9/10

10. The Trails – 8/10

11. Grind – 9/10

Overall – 9/10

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