French behemoths Gojira never go lightly into a new frontier. The band's sixth effort Magma shows a more emotional side to the band, being written and recorded after the death of the band brothers Joe Duplantier's and Mario Duplantier's mother. The album feels angry and seeks vengeance, confidently taking strides with each powerful track making a new mark.
Gojira has always been an interesting band. Their lyrics always had some charge to them, typically that of a pro-environmentalist view. Magma doesn't feel the same way other big albums from this band has felt. The impact of their critically acclaimed From Mars To Sirius is present on this album, but in a different kind of light. There's a very apparent disposition on the album. The instrumentals speak for it - melody combines with cavernous and brooding booms of noise that create a tense atmosphere around each track.
Melody is a key component in this record, and something that is somewhat new for Gojira. Their music never really keyed in on the melodic side of things. This has changed with Magma, where many tracks even centralize themselves around melody. Single 'Stranded' is the first song to give a taste of a revitalized Gojira, beginning straight off with an electrifying riff with a crazy guitar effect. The song bases itself around the riff before the climax of it, where a clean and melodic part comes in - a first for the band. The part of the song comes as a big surprise and a fresh taste of something different. It's big and epic, and doesn't bring the song down in any respect - if anything, it raises it to something new.
Melody plays different roles throughout the record. The brutal 'Pray' makes use of moody dark melodies on top of crushing riffs to create a giant atmosphere. 'Pray' is perhaps the most metal sounding song on the record, beginning with that dark atmosphere with distant flute in the background (the flute plays a surprisingly major key in this record, too). There's something so hauntingly dark about this song that goes beyond it's composition, its hard to comprehend. Title track 'Magma' has much the same structure, beginning creepily before a threatening instrumental kicks in. The verses feature a strange guitar line and almost monotonous vocals that feel like a religious chant. The choruses have giant vocals with resonating harmonies, progressing on from the verses. The bridge is just massive, incredible screams that bring the song into its instrumental climax. The large majority of the song is centered around the guitar, which is featured in an electrifying solo with that strange guitar effect, before a cleaner distortion ending kicks in to end the track with violent vocals.
Of course, with any metal band, the instrumentals have to play a big role in the composition of each track. As mentioned prior, flute makes a big but subtle impact throughout the record, being featured in the background of multiple tracks. Big riffs carry many of the songs forward, including intro track 'The Shooting Star', bringing the album in on an intense note. The big riffs accompanied by the expansive vocals create a giant epic track. The guitar riffs in this song progress in a such a dark way, that small movement in the verses adding so much intensity to it. 'The Cell' is all about the riffs, literally being a three-minute punch in the face of heaviness. Instrumental interlude 'Yellow Stone' is slow and dark, like much of the rest of the record, and progresses the album into its darker half with ease. 'Only Pain' features that same guitar effect from 'Stranded', ending even bigger than the single does. Guitar is the central focus of 'Silvera', epic riffs accompanied by brilliant melodic guitars that soar high above the dark rhythm. The album ends, surprisingly, on a soft note. 'Low Lands' is a heavy track that ends acoustically, leading into the final track, the instrumental 'Liberation'. The track is just as the title claims; it's the aftermath of the brutality of the album and the consequences of its intensity. Its a very stripped down track, acoustic guitar and a tribal drum beat. It's calm and recollective, not much to it besides the reprieve of the end. An interesting choice to end the album on a song such as this. Perhaps it was a send off from the brothers to their mother; the album was the emotion they faced at her loss, and the end is their final release and acceptance.
Magma is a huge album. It's unlike other albums of its kind in that it doesn't focus on the riffs. Instead, it focuses on the emotions of the music. It's dark and angry, but with a disposition that makes it personal. It's the summation of sound of anger that burns within us at the time of loss. It's the summation of the sadness we feel, too. It's the summation of that side of the human spectrum of emotion, and with that, it made its brilliant mark.
Favorite Tracks: The Shooting Star, Silvera, Stranded, Magma
Least Favorite Track: The Cell
Rating: 88 / 100
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- Gojira - Magma