Live Review: James Swindell / Photos Ange Cobham (Cobspix Photography)
Gojira are a thinking mans metal band. They have won plaudits all over the world for their technical prowess, their live shows and their ability to spread their deeply thought-out messages while all being wrapped up in brutal furiosity. Latest release Fortitude is another in a line of stellar albums and in spite of COVID-related delays, they are back on our shores for their first ever headline arena tour.
Employed To Serve
Tonight the o2 Warehouse is sold-out and ultimately that means that the venue is going to take a minute to fill up and somebody misses out while everyone is waiting in the car park. Employed To Serve take that hit tonight as I only got to witness the last two songs of their set. Heavy and fierce, they had this sound that reminded me of Machine Head at their most hardcore.
The more people that managed to get in the room, the higher the collective energy seemed to appear. I can’t help but feel like I missed something epic after only witnessing the tail end of their set, but that’s further motive to add them to the playlists.
Alien Weaponry are up next and they are certainly out to make an impression. Making an entrance with a thrilling native dance, the New Zealand act are of M?ori descent and take great inspiration from this by singing in the language and writing songs about indigenous culture. Wrapped up in thrash metal, these guys are an exciting prospect.
Combining Metallica-like tempos with Lamb Of God-riffs and Sepultura rhythm breaks, they are just absolutely chaos to watch as they thrash their way through the set. They are brutal and hectic with barking screams barking orders over the microphone, yet have this hidden talent for pulling out these gorgeous three part harmonies that act as perfect stop gaps like calm before the storm.
The mosh pits calls and endlessly and the crowd are always happy to jump back into the fire. The band have definitely left the stage tonight with a few more fans on their side.
Onto the main act. Gojira are all about the details. The first two things that will hit you at a Gojira show are the bone-splitting riffs and the exquisite live show. A massive LED screen sits behind the band that shares visuals as they play. Sometimes it’s of their music videos, sometimes it’s psychedelic patterns, sometimes it’s the album art. Either way, they work in tandem with an extraordinary light show that never takes away from the band but gives it that sheen.
The setlist features an even split of every release throughout their career and the band have lost none of their earlier aggression. ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ and ‘Backbone’ still crush with galloping rhythms and numerous time signature changes. ‘Stranded’ and ‘The Cell’ hold sing-able melodies in memorable riffs.
For all the riffs, it’s the atmosphere than Gojira generate that is often the secret weapon in their arsenal. ‘Flying Whales’ sends inflatable whales and limbs flying everywhere in the audience while the droning notes of ‘L’enfant Sauvage’ catch you in a trance.
Songs from Fortitude feature later on in the set and they have the sound of a band stretching their legs a bit more. ‘The Chant’ has the band leading the crowd on a march with plenty of woah’s and oh’s while Joe Duplantier shows off his guitar solo skills. ‘Amazonia’ brings the magic of the Amazon Forest into the room while ‘Another World’ has the band aping Muse.
Even when the screen goes out of action and the lights take a back seat, the show does not suffer as the band are so tight. ‘Our Time Is Now’ has such a big groove and for all the crazy things drummer Mario Duplantier does and all of his solos, he still sounds shatteringly powerful on the simplest of things.
An encore of ‘Silveria’, ‘New Found’ and ‘The Gift Of Guilt’ finish the night with malicious and epic intent. This band are exciting to watch and they are nowhere near their peak yet. Gojira are the future.
Born for One Thing
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
The Art of Dying
Our Time Is Now
The Gift of Guilt