Gojira- From Mars To Sirius – 2005 – Listenable Records
1. Ocean Planet 2. Backbone 3. From The Sky 4. Unicorn 5. Where Dragon Dwell 6. The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe 7. Flying Whales 8. In The Wilderness 9. World To Come 10. From Mars 11. To Sirius 12. Global Warming
Gojira is something of a conundrum. Consider the cover to their newest album ‘From Mars to Sirius’. It’s color is white, which is hardly skull-crushing, but there is also a flying whale on the cover, as large as the planets it appears to be circling. Whales are quite weighty, so that might imply heaviness. The band was originally named Godzilla, but changed to Gojira after copyright fussing ensued, and hell, the album even has a song titled ‘The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe’, so this has got to be thick stuff, right? Well, that’s the thing.
Gojira never takes off. I definitely want to like this album, and I definitely do, but only to an extent. I like most everything about this album ‘to an extent’ (except for the amazing pinches, which I simply cannot get enough of). It’s heavy, to an extent. It’s creative, to an extent. It’s progressive, to an extent. The press release uses words like ‘memorable…chunky…extreme…groovy’, and I agree with all of these…to an extent.
Let me explain. The album starts with a few seconds of whale song, which almost immediately kicks into a large, rolling riff, and a fantastic pinch harmonic. The pinches could be a motif of whale song emulation, but I’ll leave that to you to decide. Moving on. The drums are tight, the bass usually mimics the lead to lend it strength, and when the vocals come in, they are quite apropos. Think Andreas Sydow of Darkane, just slower. And it is true, ‘Ocean Planet’ is a good track. It’s different. Darkane meets SYL meets something else; head-banging is required.
All this is well and good, but the album just doesn’t get off the ground. There’s a fantastic foundation here; solid low end, good production, and guitarists who have their riffing technique perfectly set. I have no doubt that in time Gojira will lay down on the table a slab of metal-so-thick-and-groovy- I-can-hardly-believe-it. It’s just not that time yet.
We’ll hear some well-placed pinches and unique theme-and-variations on lead guitar, but then pops up a filler riff. A few good choruses, then a completely uninspired passage that kills the momentum of the song. For example, ‘From the Sky’ spends a few minutes building up, and at about 3:30 comes to a segue with a bit of dissonant ambience in the background. No problems so far. It cuts out, and the overused somewhat mild but trying-to-be-foreboding quiet part comes in, which again builds back up to a louder repetition of the same riff. This style represents at least 10 percent of each song, and it can go. Gojira would have well served themselves if they’d cut this album down a third or so. It’s already a monster at 70 minutes plus; around 50 and they would have had a killer album. But, since I can’t go in and slice this apart, I’ll just recommend listening to it in half-hour segments. Much longer than that, and I stop appreciating the nice ideas I do find and begin to think how this could be improved by brevity.
So, to take my own advice, I’ll end it here. I do recommend this, but with slight reservations.
-- Etiam 12.9.05
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