Gojira return with album number seven Fortitude and a whole lot of expectations from theirs fans. Most recently the band released their album Magma to mixed fan reception due to a stripped-down sound and a change in their overall style.
Fans of their first five albums were surprised to hear the band take away some of the complexity in favor of bite sized tracks that would be easily consumed as singles as well as the album as a whole. A deeply personal album, Gojira recorded it with heavy hearts with the passing of the mother of the Duplantier brothers. Will Fortitude be more like Magma, the first five albums, or something more in the middle?
Opening the album with “Born For One Thing” is a smart move, as it showcases the band’s heaviness, but leaves room for Joe Duplantier’s clean vocals in sections as well, one of the more noticeable additions from the Magma sessions. Brother Mario continues his battery barrage as the backdrop for the band while the familiar rhythm section of Jean-Michael LaBadie and Christian Andreu round things out.
There are plenty of the heavier harmonics that have become some of the hallmarks for this band 20 years running. “Amazonia” is meant to be an homage to the Amazon Rainforest with a few Sepultura vibes thrown in for good measure but ultimately feels a bit out of character.
“Another World” and “New Found” start slow and give way to harsh vocals with an underlying guitar groove that feels like it came right off of either The Way of All Flesh or L’enfant Sauvage. “Hold On” distant chants give way to what feels like a bite-sized version of a From Mars To Sirius track, albeit shorter.
“Fortitude/The Chant” is a slow moving intro/song that moves slowly and generally feels out of place like Terra Incognita’s “Satan Is a Lawyer”, not really sure what kind of vibe the band was going for this time around. “Sphinx” feels like an older cut right from the outset with the band at their mid-tempo best with some of the heaviest vocals on the album, bringing in some more of their classic sounds.
Overall, Fortitude fares a lot like later Mastodon albums, especially post-Crack The Skye in terms of what the band will be doing next. In a lot of ways, Fortitude is Gojira’s The Hunter, an album that followed a big change and signaled a very different approach later on. Maybe Fortitude will age better over time, but to me some tracks feel out of place and the cohesiveness of earlier albums feels lost. This is an average affair with plenty of highlights but is overshadowed by inconsistency and being a few tracks too long.
(released April 30, 2021 on Roadrunner Records)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch Gojira – “Born For One Thing” Video