Gojira Display Plenty of 'Fortitude' on New Album

BY Manus HopkinsPublished Apr 26, 2021

All too often, extreme metal acts are ceilinged at a moderate level of success. It isn't surprising to see a band like Gojira — 25 years and seven albums in — plateau in popularity and spend the rest of their career playing the same venues and pulling the same figures. But if anyone has a shot at breaking this mould, it's Gojira, and Fortitude could be the album that does the trick.

The songs all play into and build on each other well, fitting together despite the wide array of stylistic elements heard across them. The thunderous "Born for One Thing" starts the record on a strong note, complete with massive riffs, pounding drums and earth-shattering vocals, before "Amazonia'' shifts gears into a environmental anthem that's progressive in every sense of the word (it was released along with a fundraiser to benefit the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil) and "Another World" drips raw, unfiltered emotion. More melodic cuts like "Hold On!" and "The Trails" aren't necessarily more gentle than the heavier tracks, but show a more nuanced side of Gojira's well-rounded sound without slowing the record's momentum or diminishing its intensity.

One of the best moments comes midway through the album, when interlude "Fortitude" gives way to "The Chant," an arena-sized song with what might be the biggest chorus in Gojira's entire catalogue. The same goes for several of the tracks, and the deeper the album goes, the more it feels like one big picture rather than a collection of individual songs. Closer "Grind" concludes the album perfectly, seemingly summarizing the album by bringing together all its atmospheres into one final burst. 

One of the best things about Fortitude is the creative uses of numerous guitar effects and spot-on tones. For the guitar geeks, digital effects company Neural DSP has a package of digital plugins called the where these sounds can be found. The various distortions, flangers and reverbs serve the riffs incredibly, as if they were written with the exact sounds the final product would contain in mind. The production at times sounds a little too clear, as if some grit could give the songs more attitude, but the band still sounds absolutely massive, just as they do live.

Fortitude is an album that takes a few listens to fully wrap one's head around, and there's no denying just how much there is to be heard in these 11 versatile tracks. If there was any doubt still about Gojira's potential, Fortitude proves unequivocally that the band are MVPs of modern metal. They've held their own as openers for Metallica's Canadian dates on their WorldWired tour, stolen the show at massive festivals like the 2018 edition of Heavy Montreal, and now, have released one of the year's most important heavy music albums.

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