Published Jul 28, 2016When it came to track vocals for Magma, Gojira's sixth studio album, frontman Joe Duplantier figured the time was right to prominently include clean singing alongside his trademark growl. The record's emphasis on atmosphere made it easier to explore such territory in a way the band's prior work had not, letting him achieve something he had always wanted to as a vocalist.
"The music kind of allowed me to do more this time around, being more mid-tempo with an emphasis on groove," he tells Exclaim! "I know some people are going to be disappointed [with clean vocals], definitely. But what are you going to do? Having a metal band is all about doing whatever the fuck you want to!"
While the band's approach to heavy music certainly hasn't softened, many of Magma's brighter moments come when the band stray from their technical death metal roots, a sonic shift largely attributed to the range of emotions that the Duplantier brothers (Joe and drummer Mario) experienced during the four-year gap since 2012's L'Enfant Sauvage. Both became fathers, in addition to losing their mother to illness — events that shaped Magma's lyrical split between darkness and light.
"'Low Lands' is one song where I'm talking to my mother like 'you're going to make it,' but then she didn't," Joe explains. "Within my lyrics, this whole journey of losing someone is almost like a confusion, but that said, it's been fun to write these songs. There's both hope and sadness here and there, but it's mostly pure energy."
Another personal change was relocating to New York City from their native Bayonne, France, building their Silver Cord Studio in Queens to effectively make the U.S. the band's new home base. A lyricist whose material draws from examining the human condition, society and the environment, the elder Duplantier's worldview remains broad while being closer than ever before to the headlines of social and political unrest.
"I think about where we're headed every day," Joe admits. "You see the media reporting all this shit, but great things are still happening. I try to stay connected to that energy versus just looking the evil side of our society and human beings, even though it's difficult to ignore because it's so obvious and depressing. A lot of times I view the human race like a parasite to our planet and to ourselves."
Gojira tour North America this fall alongside TesseracT, including October dates in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. You can find the complete tour itinerary here.
Check out the video for "Low Lands" below.
Magma is out now on Roadrunner.