Gojira are a French progressive death/groove metal band. Their seventh album Fortitude is to be released next week. With that in mind we are reflecting on their discography chock full of excellent musicianship from both Joe Duplantier (vocals/guitars) his brother Mario (drums), Christian Andreu (lead guitar) and Jean-Michel Labadie (bass). The albums from Terra Incognita to Magma show how the band has evolved over the course of 20 years and even longer if you consider their origins as Godzilla prior to their first proper album.
A heavy emphasis on deep lyrics with a particular focus on ecology become central themes on From Mars To Sirius and The Way Of All Flesh, while others may delve more into the human condition. Either way, the band has made some excellent albums over the course of their career, plus they remain one of the absolute best live bands in the world. Here are our rankings of Gojira’s first six albums.
Starting this list with Gojira’s debut album almost feels a little too unfair, but this band had not yet taken shape yet. Right from the outset of “Clone” you get a taste of the heavy groove of their future sound, with much more death metal flair which they would eventually move away from.
“Satan Is a Lawyer” is a notable clumsy misstep by the band that has seldom made those types of mistakes, but this was only the beginning, after all. “Blow Me Away (You)Niverse” and “Space Time” helped to set the stage for the albums that would come soon and help to fully establish Gojira’s residency in the upper echelon of metal artists in the 21st century.
Recommended Track: “‘Blow Me Away (You)Niverse”
Noticeably more aggressive from the outset, the title track from The Link hearkens back to Sepultura’s tribal drumming a la Roots to set the stage for the slow-paced groove that is to follow. The Duplantier brothers are the bedrock of the initial passages before giving way to Christian Andreu’s leads and back to Mario’s powerful drums.
“Death of Me” is more of the band exploring their distinct kind of heaviness with a plodding pace that long time fans should be used to. Juxtapose that with the speedy “Embrace the World” with Joe Duplantier’s vocals possibly being the harshest that he would allow them to be on a studio recording. This was a more fully formed album than its predecessor and a sign of the cohesiveness that defined the band’s best albums.
Recommended Track: “Embrace The World”
A very personal album to the band, Magma sees the Duplantier brothers in mourning after the passing of their mother during the recording of this album. What followed was a record that was a massive departure from the band’s first five albums and features more clean vocals from Joe Duplantier, who had begun to understand that he wasn’t nearly as angry as he was once before.
All of this including a slow atmospheric plod begins album number six’s “The Shooting Star.” “Silvera” feels closer to what you expect from the band even if the song lengths in general here are bite sized when compared to the majority of their other albums. Magma was an album that was intended to be a stripped down version of the band, which was still capable of delivering the goods in a smaller space. A divisive album in its own right, but a solid album nonetheless with plenty of catchy tunes like “Stranded,” “Magma” and “Pray” to set the mood.
Recommended Track: “Silvera”
Gojira’s fifth full length foray L’enfant Sauvage had the band riding high on their best two records, having fully crafted their signature sound. “Explosia” opens things with pounding drums and pinch harmonics they feed directly into one another, the back end of the track is very bombastic, even though the pace is generally slow to mid-tempo.
“Liquid Fire” is more standard Gojira with a quicker pace and some fun use of vocal effects to vary Duplantier’s delivery making the overall experience that much more familiar while also have a level of uniqueness about it. The title track can beat down the listener at the outset. However it gives way to showcasing this French four piece as the well-oiled machine that they are. That makes for a masterclass in songwriting and continuing to vary tempos while maintaining a level of groove and heaviness that Gojira have made their own.
Recommended Track: “L’enfant Sauvage”
Gojira’s fourth album The Way Of All Flesh kicks things off with what might be the best 1-2 punch of their career thus far. “Oroborus” and “Toxic Garbage Island” are different enough songs with the former being a righteous jam and the latter being a drum track on par with Meshuggah’s “Bleed” in terms of sheer technicality and brutality.
“Adoration For None” features a guest appearance by Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) who fits in with the song seamlessly, making for a combination of the best parts of Gojira and Lamb of God in a small space. Transitioning between the vocal styles seems to create connections between the bands that become more obvious each and every time it happens, in some ways that wasn’t as easy to discern before. The title track features some more tribal drumming, “Vacuity” is a live staple and a slow dirge through various elements of groove and “Wolf Down The Earth” is all kinds of fantastic. The Way Of All Flesh and the rest of Gojira’s discography all look up to the next album on this list.
Recommended Track: “Toxic Garbage Island”
Following the trajectory from their first two albums, From Mars To Sirius became an inevitability. It contains the best parts of their first two albums coupled with their tightest songwriting to date. The album focuses on a concept of a dead planet becoming revitalized while tackling climate change and oceans, in particular the whales, since those marine animals have become closely associated with the band since this release 16 years ago.
“Ocean Planet” always felt as though the listener was being transported underwater or delving deep in general pinch harmonics and slow sections are balanced by Mario Duplantier’s masterful drumming efforts. It’s a start of what was to come later on in the album. “Backbone” is yet another fine example of what the band sounds like when they are collectively going full bore, in particular the midsection of this track. “The Heaviest Matter In The Universe” and “Flying Whales” are other highlights of the band’s best album to date and the album that really set them up for all the future successes they were to have. This is one of the finest metal albums of the 21st century, one with crossover appeal to fans of various genres of metal and beyond and of course, whales. Let’s not forget about the whales.
Recommended Track: “Flying Whales”