5 out of 5
Label: Roadrunner Records
Produced by: Joe Duplantier
I realize I’m cutting off a bunch of classic bands by saying this, but I don’t often look to Roadrunner Records for my metal. I run more to the Hydra Head side of things for my aggression, i.e. a dash of arty with my loud. Whereas with RR I feel like, often, I’m just getting loud.
But part of being a music obsessive is keeping your ears open for new stuff, regardless of where it comes from, and one source I use for that is the new release highlight list from Allmusic. Gojira’s Magma had a damned glowing review there with enough keywords to twig my fancy, so I let it twig me in over to a band camp page to listen to some older releases. I was impressed. So I made the plunge and bought Magma, and upon receiving the disc and hitting play… I was blown away. This is Mastodon-level mastery, the Gojira boys swinging between massive sludgefests, thrash madness, and even more accessible riffs and harmonies, all synergized into a start-to-finish experience. And shallow though it may be – these guys are French? Zero indication given. This aggression is purely American, and the poetic lyrics without a single hint of second language or translation.
The song elements mentioned above aren’t necessarily segregated by song, either. The albums kicks off by tossing us right into the mire with tue sludgy, cavernous sound of ‘Shooting Star,’ but juxtaposes this with chanting, sung vocals. This relatively ‘hopeful’ sound is sensibly followed by the chugga-chugga, finger-tapping blast of Silvera, then doubled down upon for the heavy, shredding The Cell. While fast-paced, thrashy riffage remains a constant, its this ability to seamlessly blend these styles – and sequence them so there’s a sense of progression and build – that keeps the album engaging from end to end, peaking once at the title track, which brings back the opener’s reverb and tunefulness and layers on some extra sonic impressiveness, and then re-building up to the penultimate track (though essentially final – the last song is an outro), Low Lands, which does the slow climb from quiet to intensely loud over its five minutes.
Though that allmusic review suggests Magma is a more accessible record than other Gojira discs, that’s not making any exceptions regarding its intensity. It just happens to be so freaking good – every song, every riff – that’s it’s a no-barrier-to-entry pleasure (unless you’re not a metal fan, heh) to listen to it.