Gojira – Fortitude (LP)
22.00 € inc. VAT
Five long years after the release of the groundbreaking, wildly successful Magma, the pressure is on France’s Gojira to deliver a fitting follow-up, making Fortitude one of 2021’s most heavily anticipated metal releases. The earlier set offered artfully rendered songs that were uncharacteristically personal; they were composed in response to the death of frontman/guitarist Joe and drummer Mario Duplantier’s mother. The band utilized everything from clean vocals and throwback grunge to post-punk, knotty prog, and neo-psych to get the songs across, consequently winning over new fans, many of whom did not usually frequent the metal section of the record store. Fortitude was recorded at Sterling Silver Studios in Brooklyn, New York, produced by Joe Duplantier and mixed by Andy Wallace (Nirvana). Despite a wider array of stylistic and production elements, these 11 songs hang together like a suite.
Opener “Born for One Thing” is propelled by Mario’s bombastic beats amid death metal grooves and punishing industrial breakdowns as Joe sings about the human fear of death and preparing for its inevitability. The twin guitar vamps from Joe and Christian Andreu collide and bounce off one another. The anti-deforestation anthem “Amazonia” offers a massive bass groove from Jean-Michel Labadie, buoyed by power chords, swinging drums, and indigenous instrumentation that directly pays homage to Sepultura’s Roots era. “Another World” offers a glorious display of Gojira’s abundant tech-death prowess. The layered, near-chanted vocal harmonies introduce “Hold On” atop a Sabbath-ian riff orgy and incantatory drumming. The layered clean vocals stagger the guitar and bass cadences, swirling together amid reverb and neo-psych effects before Andreu signals a change with a crunch-and-burn vamp appended by distortion and blastbeats. It erupts with heavy, grooving death metal anchored by Joe’s snarling lead vocals. The title track is more like a two-minute intro featuring marimbas, tom-toms, and bass drums offering cumbia and reggae rhythms, wordless clean singing, and plucked guitars before exploding into “The Chant” amid crunchy bass and boisterous electric guitar vamps. Combined, they sound like remixes of outtakes from Neil Young’s Re-ac-tor and Killing Joke’s self-titled debut album. “Sphinx” is a furious backward glance at Gojira’s recording history while “Into the Storm” busts out of the gate with melodic twin guitars that transform into a roiling death metal vamp atop triple-timed blastbeats and chanted, harsh vocals. For longtime fans, set-closer “The Grind” is the payoff: It’s fantastically heavy, syncopated, technical, and nuanced in production, with raging vocals that may preach surrender but are actually deeply insurgent as the seething music offers proof. Fans of Magma needn’t have worried: Fortitude is a fitting, welcome follow-up, and a brave new chapter in Gojira’s continuing musical evolution as they weave old sounds with new ones in creating a sonic tapestry that showcases startling imagination, thought-provoking musical and human intelligence, complex emotions, and immense physical power.