Tuesday, July 3, 2012

With a Purposeful Grimace and a Terrible Sound

When Gojira's From Mars to Sirius stormed the US in 2006, earnest but lazy stateside listeners called the band "a French Mastodon." Now that their fifth album, L'enfaunt Sauvage is out, no one with shrewder ears than Jann Wenner will be making that mistake.

Unlike the Georgia Giants, whose every record seems to reflect a new direction, or Lamb of God, content to stomp on their burnt palaces from heron, Gojira have found where they're going and gone deeper over their past few records. The oddly dry The Link excepted, each Gojira album succincts and out-brutalizes the serrated riffage and tribal drumming of the record before.

How Gojira can make death-prog this ingratiating is still a mystery. On L'enfant Sauvage, the band is wiping out old things like hooks and time signatures and rendering their Inconvenient Truth-worthy lyrics indecipherable. The push-pull of brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier is the kind of chemistry that comes around once in a metal moon--check out how Mario's cymbal precision glows under Joe's palm-muting in "Explosia," or how the drums infiltrate the guitar lines of "Liquid Fire" and the title track. A professor of tones, slides and pinch harmonics, Duplantier is one of the 21st century's guitar gods, whether turning "Born in Winter"'s mellow drone into a savage melody, eliciting cries under his brother's beatdown on "Pain is a Master" or dropping in on the ocean in "The Wild Healer." Unless Converge or Pig Destroyer can do better, this will be the year's best metal album.

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