When you think of the band Gojira, two words spring to mind: longevity and groove.
When you have been around for as long as the most part of three decades and you rack up seven studio albums, several worldwide tours, international appearances and a copious number of awards including two Grammy nominations under your belt, it proves harder and harder living up to, let alone exceeding, your recent accomplishments.
Gojira – Fortitude (Roadrunner Records)
Release Date: 30 April 2021
Words: Dany Jones
Gojira’s 2016 ‘Proggy’ masterpiece Magma was indeed globally acclaimed. It charted at no 24 on the Billboard 200 and marked the band’s highest sales and chart debut.
Since then, the global climate has fundamentally changed due to a worldwide pandemic, which has forced the industry to literally grind to a halt for over a year now. Releasing a new piece of work of equal stature and in such circumstances, would have indeed proven challenging to say the least.
But Gojira can do no wrong. Whether it being the socio-politically charged narrative or the constant experimentation into new sonic soundscapes, all beautifully supported by the skilful barrage provided by percussive extraordinaire ‘Evil Mario’ Duplantier, they manage to do it again and make a 2021 come back that is nothing short of mind-blowing.
Delivering on all levels
‘Fortitude’ is Gojira’s seventh studio album, released via Roadrunner Records on the 30th April 2021, and it could not have been more long awaited.
The earlier releases of the several singles have already made us accustomed to the ambience and tone that this album denotes, however it proves truly hard to single out only a few tracks. The heavy loads keep charging one after the other and one simply cannot help head-bobbing all the way through.
Gojira have always been absolute groove masters and ‘Fortitude’ delivers at all levels.
There is, however, an added sobriety together with a multi-faceted aspect in terms of the pool they draw from, ranging between Death, Prog, Rock, Ambient and a truly earthy, almost ancestral sound, evoking the stripped down, minimal echoes of ancient tribes and church chorales, yet never to the detriment of the main structure.
The album opens with the absolutely explosive ‘Born for One Thing’, also released as second single. True to the Gojira signature sound, this number has it all; fat chugs, hypnotic groove, a thumping on the verse vs ethereal on the chorus bass line, memorable hooks and all beautifully permeated of sheer brutality. It is simply nothing short of epic.
Celebration of strength, force and rebirth
Where Magma was laden with tones of grief, solace and contemplation that reflected events unfolding in the band’s personal lives, with this album, Gojira have wanted to go back to their roots, but they have also wanted to elevate. As Joe Duplantier himself states in an earlier interview “With this album, we wanted to come back with more joy, more power, and more positivity about life in general” and ‘Fortitude’ marks indeed a celebration of strength, force and rebirth.
Always ever involved in the geopolitics of the ecosystem, Amazonia was written with the purpose or raising awareness about the crisis caused by the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest. With tribal undertones echoing throughout as a clear homage to the cause, Gojira will be donating all proceeds to the indigenous tribes of the Amazon. For more details, visit https://propeller.la/gojira
They have also appealed to the fans and launched a fundraiser involving several celebrity guests of the calibre of the likes of Myles Kennedy, Metallica, Lamb of God, Tool, Slash, Megadeth, RATM, Korn, to name a few, who very kindly gifted signed merch to the cause. “This is the time for change and a call to unity” in the true words of the frontman himself.
The first single released in 2020 was ‘Another World’. This track sets off as a truly mesmeric litany which will refrain in loop all the way through. In search of another world, of a new place. The chorus is simple and to the point, yet so gigantic that it seems inevitable envisioning stadium crowds singing along in absolute frenzy.
Delivering on all levels
‘Hold On’ opens with a leftfield acappella chorale, yet it soon unleashes into this ultimate fighting chant and again it invites to a sea of fists raised up in the air. ‘New Found’ is of remarkable technicality, brilliantly showcasing the skill of the foursome at shifting rhythms and time signatures. The chorus is incredibly uplifting and it all beautifully culminates into the breakdown on the outro.
With the self-titled ‘Fortitude’, we get a rightful mid album intermission, which marks the prequel to the next heavy load that is ‘The Chant’, climaxing into big choruses and a poignant solo.
Discussing the video for ‘The Chant’, Duplantier told MetalTalk that “this work is inspired by the reading of Tenzin Tsundue’s poetry. A righteous Tibetan activist, he describes the cultural genocide perpetrated on its people. We have always been sensitive to the Tibetan struggle.
“One of the wisest and most compassionate traditions and victim of the worst human rights violations imaginable since its invasion in 1949. Tibetan culture inspired many of our lyrics and had a deep impact on our approach of philosophy and art in general. Our thoughts go out to all Tibetans. We are hoping that we will see their land free from oppression in our lifetime.”
With ‘Sphinx’, we are once again plunged into the depths of distorted downtuned riffing and the familiar Death vocals evoking past eras of The Way of All Flesh and L’Enfent Sauvage, yet with new chanting elements added onto the choruses.
However, it is ‘Into the Storm’ which marks the absolute belter of this record and it is no surprise that it was chosen as the third single, released only last March 2021.
The dreamy ‘The Trails’ sees Joe launching into full melodic singing, which is indeed a welcome treat. The song is mellow, airy and simply spellbinding. But the band could not bid farewell without the final heavy weight that is ‘Grind’. Surrender to the grind indeed and then it is curtains down.
Overall, Gojira’s number seven will leave you transfixed for its entire duration. It will trap into the abyss of their sonic underworld.
A stunning work of art throughout, ‘Fortitude’ is nothing short of impressive and, without the shadow of a doubt, set to take the spot of album of the year 2021.
Joe Duplantier (Vox and Guitar)
‘The Dragon’ Christian Andreu (Guitar)
Jean Michelle Labadie (Bass)
‘Evil’ Mario Duplantier (Drums)
1. Born for One Thing
3. Another World
4. Hold On
5. New Found
7. The Chant
9. Into the Storm
10. The Trails