Released by: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Joe Duplantier – Guitar, Vocals
Mario Duplantier – Drums
Christian Andreu – Guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – Bass
01. The Shooting Star
03. The Cell
05. Yellow Stone
08. Only Pain
09. Low Lands
One of the most anticipated Metal albums of 2016 has finally arrived. The French Metal Gods known as Gojira released their sixth studio album ‘Magma’ on June 17th under RoadRunner Records. For many Gojira fans, it felt like an eternity for new material where it has been four years of silence since 2012’s ‘L’Enfant Sauvage.’ Historically, it is no secret that Gojira created a unique genre over the years, especially after the acclaimed third studio album 2005’s ‘From Mars to Sirius.’ Now if you are expecting for history to repeat itself and listen to similar structures from the earlier albums, there is a chance of disappointment.
I have, to be honest, this album holds a lot of power from the beginning to end, as it captures honesty with emotion, truth, and the sad realities of death. Before anyone discredits this new sound, it was during the recording process when brothers Joe (guitar/vocals) and Mario Duplantier (drums) had to face one of the most horrific experiences. They had to leave Silver Chord studios in Queens, New York to fly out to France to watch their mother take her very last breath as she died from cancer. Losing a parent is the worse possible experience anyone can go through, especially watching their parent die right in front of you. It is a vision that will never leave, a memory that will turn into a recurring tragic nightmare. You feel helpless, lost, and everything you knew in life will forever be gone and changed for good.
Now this is where ‘Magma’ takes place as it connects with the listener on a larger scale with themes of death, pain, and the fragility of humanity. Gojira as a unit did not shield themselves away from this pain. There is no censorship from the harsh reality and life changing experience as the writing includes darkened emotions that are shared in an atmospherically haunting way. One thing to note is with ‘Magma” there is more clean singing from Joe as there are disturbing guitar riffs by Christian Andreu and haunting basslines from Jean-Michel Labadie as well.
The album opens the doors to pain and suffering with the first song “The Shooting Star.” It has an atmospheric beginning that stung me from the start as it slowly erupts with an abrasive guitar riff. It musically introduces the pathways of human suffering from pain, glory, hell, and anger while it instrumentally filled with Metal intoxication. The lyrics alone such as “Avoid the darkness, stay away, stay out of sight.” I can identify this with the possible feeling of regret, helplessness, what could one do to save someone from the inevitable death? The instrumentals continue to move with more heavy riffs, as the next verse speaks something about “You are in the sky.” As though the possibility of a spirit being lifted into space and maybe turned into a shooting star. The bass kicks in when Joe cries out “the torture of the heart.” There are mixed emotions and melodies that includes a surprising guitar riff four minutes into the track as it spirals back into darkness. There is a long atmospheric ringing sound at the end as though one is watching the Shooting Star fade away, or seeing someone’s soul depart.
Moving in more of a classic Gojira tone as it pounds its way in with “Silvera.” Joe displays a few aggressive growls as lyrics spill out, “With every fall you get the pain, you learn the lesson,” and “Time to open your eyes to this genocide, when you clear your mind you see it all.” Please just read and listen to those lines again. This song brings out the second theme to the album, where it is about making Earth a better place after seeing the destruction humanity has done to it. Musically, the guitar riffs flow well with the vocals as it angrily generates madness that is happening on Earth. The lyric that stands out and repeats the most says it all,”when you change yourself, you change the world.”
“The Cell” surprised me with the intensified speedy riffs at the beginning. It continues to enter in a destructive way that most likely expresses anger, however, includes calming lyrics such as “you’re not alone, you’re not the only one.” To me, the song is about being trapped in a cell of personal madness and being in your own prison, “lost in the dark.” The melody screams along with rapid aggression as the lyrics continue with a disturbing truth that we all hate to not having, “no control over anything.” The words “I have to let go, now!” to me is clearly about letting go of a loved one as it will emotionally trap you. As disturbing and depressing this song is, it’s beyond powerful and mesmerizing.
Continuing the theme of being stuck as the next song “Stranded” enters. There is an interesting guitar riff that soon amplifies to a larger melodic tune. Lyrics about not being able to control the reality of losing a loved one continues with, “A growing sickness in the heart, distinctive lack of control.” The emotional despair is captured in a poetic-melodic way, as the atmospheric rhythm alone will haunt you. The music pours out the feeling of loss, emptiness and having your own soul destroyed along the way. After feeling your heart crushed with the depressing realities, “Yellow Stone” comes in as a soft intermission. It is just over one minute long as the bass atmospherically flows until the end.
The title song “Magma” comes in next as it begins with an atmospheric interlude. It and breaks into a heavier introduction that has a similarly aggressive tone as the prior “Stranded” track. The similarity changes soon after, as it introduces another innovative guitar riff. The melody slows down in a more Progressive-Atmospheric way until an instrumental breakdown that hits around three and a half minutes in with a heavier rhythm as the vocals intensify as well. This song alone holds a lot of power where while I was listening to it I zoned out and became speechless from its magnificence. One of my favorite introductions is in the next song “Pray.” It starts off silent, as though you are in a temple of some sort or outer space as a guitar riff flushes in that races like a heartbeat. It continues to escalate, and once the drums come piling in, all hell breaks loose. Shortly after, the melody slows down, and you hear “Pray for our life.” There are several dynamics in this song alone that every time you listen to it, there’s a new layer that needs to be discovered. It generates another haunting and disturbing sound where an abrasive guitar riff comes roaring back in with blistering madness. “Only Pain” moves in next with a similar “Stranded” and “Magma” essence. This song demonstrates a lot of anger where it can be interpreted in many different levels with lyrics such as “illusions are lost. The problem is you.” The melody continues to move in an odd tragically comforting way. It is another powerful track where I did not want this song to be over; I wanted it to be a long twenty-minute anthem-esque tune.
Settling in with “Low Lands” holds a soft intro, where you only hear a few screams with cymbals and light ambient enhancements. A guitar riff hits and finally the melody runs its course. It is another depressing track with lyrics such as “Tell me what you see. In the afterlife.” As though Joe is speaking directly to his mother, wanting to have answers to know the number one question humanity has been wanting to know; what happens after we die? While the questioning continues, glorious guitar riffs erupt. This is one of the longest tracks and it is probably the most compelling, as it summarizes the theme of the album. The ultimate conclusion is the three-minute acoustic song “Liberation.” To me, it sounds similar to a casual jam, where it is a new distinctive close out. An outro to the near forty minutes to reflect on what was heard including pain, and the inability to control things we wish we can as death will always approach us.
‘Magma’ is an incredibly dark album that brings hidden subjects no one wants even to think about right to the surface. Despite such blackened emotion, it musically sucks you in where I have spent hours on end listening to this album and you should too!
Written By: Zenae D. Zukowski