Released: April 30, 2021
The much anticipated new record from the always incredible Gojira finally sees the light of day – and the wait was worth every second.
It took France’s Gojira a few years and several albums before they exploded onto the international metal scene, but ever since L’Enfant Sauvage stormed into the picture, it has been full speed ahead. In the nine years since that record, Gojira went from a barely known band, opening tours for the likes of Kvelertak and Mastodon, to headlining festivals and becoming possible the hottest commodity in the metal realm. Now, with Fortitude, Gojira have cemented their legacy at the top of the heap! La creme de la creme!
From the opening notes of Born For One Thing all the way through to the final tones of Grind – it is blatantly clear that this is a band at the height of their skillset. To cut this short, Fortitude is a masterpiece! Keep reading though, and let me tell you all about it. You see, Fortitude follows the path they’ve been walking since L’Enfant Sauvage. Using similar methods – like slide-guitar and those eerie little squealing notes. Similar build-ups and stop-and-go riffing that runs into a neat drum beat or bass line. Old tricks made new again, and mixed with all the nuances they’ve picked up along the way – there’s even a jaw harp in use on Amazonia.
There are harmonies on this record that induce a trance like state. Deep. That sense of drifting away with time. So splendidly crafted are these pieces. It isn’t just that the musicianship is above average or overtly technical, but more how things are arranged. How riffs flow into one another, the way bass lines accentuate those riffs, how the drumming fills everything in so well – and the vocal selections top it all off like a cherry atop a cake. The time signatures are sometimes surprising but never feel off or wrong. There isn’t a moment on this entire record that isn’t interesting. Memorable. The way everything flows together is phenomenal – artists working together to become one, in place of any desire to be a stand-out in a group. This is symmetry.
Groove. Emotion. Gojira knows, adores – and explores these things. On the title track, Fortitude, the opening moments give a mental picture of a group of friends, deep in the woods, banging on bongos and howling to the moon, after collectively eating about a pound of psychedelic fungi. Tribalism. So powerfully motivating. Soon enough, it moves into a driving pulse and pulls many of the bands trademark nuances. The Chant. Pooling in all manor of groove. Personally, this is the moment on the album where I like to close my eyes and just rock my body to and throe. Fucking sublime.
It is probably the passages Gojira work in-between the obvious metal bits that make me adore their music so much. The end segment of Another World and the start of the following track, Hold On, are prime examples. Or the entirety of the amazing The Chant. Anybody that has ever said metal can’t be uplifting needs to be tied down to a chair, A Clockwork Orange style, and forced to listen to those three tracks I just mentioned. Or, maybe just invite that friend over for a drink and subtly slip this record on. That’ll probably keep you out of trouble with law enforcement. I digress.
How can you not adore a band that cares as deeply about our planet as Gojira does? Their lyrical content has practically always been about the environmental issues that so many turn a blind eye towards. If Greenpeace had but one band to champion their cause – it should be none other than Gojira. Hell, even their band name, derived from the original Japanese name for the king of the monsters himself, the mighty Godzilla, whom in turn was a metaphor for the destructive nature of the human race and its consequences, signals their collective intent. These guys are not just creating some of the best metal on the planet – they’re doing it for the plant as well. That’s something we should all be able to get behind.
No bones about it – Fortitude is the metal album of the year – so far! There have been some incredible releases already, and more to come in the second half of the year, but what Gojira have crafted is as near to perfection as I imagine possible on this Earthly realm. I felt the same way when L’Enfant Sauvage graced my ears – that it couldn’t be beaten and was maybe a fluke. A swansong. Then came Magma, and any thought of L’Enfant Sauvage being an accidental stroke of genius was flushed down the drain. How Gojira are able to continually build upon each record like this is madness personified. It shouldn’t be physically possible. Alien. Yet that’s exactly what they’ve done – again! Again!
You owe it to yourself to acquire a copy of this album, and you can do so by visiting the Roadrunner records website.
For Fans Of: Mastodon, Kvelertak, Opeth
01. Born For One Thing
03. Another World
04. Hold On
05. New Found
07. The Chant
09. Into The Storm
10. The Trails