Published Jun 15, 2016Gojira's sixth studio record, Magma, comes after a four-year period that brought about significant change in the French metal band's camp. Brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier moved to Queens, New York and built a recording studio, making the United States their new home. Both brothers are now also fathers, and lost their mother to illness while the songwriting stage of the record was half finished.
The range of emotions that came with these events informed the writing of Magma in a "no bullshit" fashion, as they told Rolling Stone earlier this year. A newfound maturity is evident in that the record isn't completely concerned with bludgeoning listeners over the head with riffs at every turn; rather, the band work in a number of elements that sidestep the heaviness they've been synonymous with since the mid aughts.
Though they'll be unexpected to some, these new pieces fit amongst the band's trademark sounds well. Opening dirge "The Shooting Star" is led by heavily layered clean vocals, a combination of style and production technique that mark the record's lengthy title track and beautiful closer "Low Lands." The latter slowly segues into an outro section that doubles as a rare moment sans distortion, leaving only acoustic guitar and hand drums to play the listener out.
Of course, that isn't to say the French outfit have softened: the crushing rhythmic excursions of "Silvera" and "The Cell" are more than enough to get heads banging, as are the strange, pitch-shifted riffs in "Stranded" and "Only Pain."
Lyrically, Magma splits the difference between darkness and light as a result of the aforementioned events surrounding its creation. Though the shouted chorus of "The Cell" references being lost in the dark, a glimmer of hope remains with Joe's shouts of "We'll find a way out right now!" It's more of the same with "Only Pain," another of the elder Duplantier's lyrical examinations of humanity in which he describes the self as both the problem and the solution in suffering.
Magma demonstrates a healthy admission and channelling of Gojira's explosive tendencies into a record that is truly an intriguing change of pace when considering the band's more eruptive past efforts. (Roadrunner)