Concert Review – Gojira (Metropolis, Montreal, QC, 10/21/2016)

And Gojira melted the spinal cords of all metallers in Montreal with the scorching magma flowing from their kick-ass neck-breaking music.

OPENING ACTS: TesseracT

gojira-fall-2016If you can move your neck, feel your back, walk and breathe normally, that means you didn’t attend the pulverizing performance by French icons Gojira this Friday at the neat and well-located Metropolis in Montreal, Quebec. Who cares if it was only 8 degrees outside and raining nonstop? It was a night of heavy music played to perfection, which means no weather could stop us metallers from leaving our places and head to the venue to bang our fuckin’ heads to the most important metal band in the history of France. Very few times I’ve seen such flawless interaction between band and crowd, a night that will forever be kept inside our hearts and remembered as the night Gojira beautifully conquered “La Métropole du Québec”.

img_1842Before we get to the Armageddon generated by Gojira, let’s talk about the opening act, British Progressive Metal/Rock band TESSERACT. Founded in 2003 and having released three full length albums and a few EP’s, including the 2016 EP Errai, The band formed by the talented musicians Daniel Tompkins, Acle Kahney, James Monteith, Amos Williams and Jay Postones provided the fans at the venue a very professional and technical performance, but that didn’t mean it was exciting. Quite the contrary, their whole concert felt like one endless 45-minute song so tiresome it was. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between songs, and I was about to fall asleep after just a few minutes. Well, there were many fans that had a good time during their concert, but for fans of old school stuff like Slayer, Pantera and Anthrax, for example, the concert never really clicked. They are all awesome musicians, especially Amos with his brutal and thunderous bass sounds, but overall they sound like a less metallic version of the latest (boring) album by Dream Theater. If you enjoyed the concert that’s fine, I respect it, but we must admit there were tons of other better choices to warm up the crowd for the main attraction of the night.

Setlist
Phoenix
Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception
Concealing Fate, Part 3: The Impossible
Of Matter – Proxy
Of Matter – Retrospect
Dystopia
Survival
Of Mind – Nocturne 

Band members
Daniel Tompkins – vocals
Acle Kahney – guitar
James Monteith – guitar
Amos Williams – bass
Jay Postones – drums

GOJIRA

img_1843After TesseracT was over I was feeling so bored I chugged a beer to see if that would wake me up, but I didn’t realize that wasn’t necessary because when GOJIRA started, they needed less than a second to make my blood boil again with excitement. I’m pretty sure they are considered the active volcano of their hometown Bayonne in France, in special after the release of the marvelous Magma earlier this year. When the heavier-than-hell Only Pain kicked off the concert, that’s exactly what every single person present on the floor section felt: a lot of pain in their entire bodies caused by the demented circle pits that started right at the first notes played by Gojira, and that madness didn’t stop until the very end of the night.

After that spine-crushing beginning, Gojira showed no mercy for our souls and blasted three songs made in the depths of hell aiming at destroying our necks, the amazing The Heaviest Matter of the Universe (obviously played by one of the heaviest bands on the entire planet), and their two newborn classics Silvera and Stranded. Yes, they played those three in a row for our total delectation. Not that after that it wasn’t heavy, because they only played brutal material, as for example the bestial Backbone, but that initial sequence was memorable. The only moment of peace was during Terra Inc., but that didn’t last long because Wisdom Comes came crushing our souls like there was no tomorrow. There were beer flying all over the places, fists and horns in the air, pure anarchy and tons of screaming and headbanging. I was just sweating like a wild boar, with my Pantera T-shirt, my pants and even my underwear soaking wet with my own sweat, with many other people’s sweat and with a considerable amount of beer.

img_1851I really don’t know what to say about the rest of their setlist as everything was superb, like for instance the demonic Oroborus and Vacuity. Perhaps the moment where the connection between band and fans reached its peak was during the stunning circle pit generated by the melancholic hymn Pray, a song you don’t usually expect to see that type of aggressiveness coming from the crowd. Or maybe it was when bassist Jean-Michel Labadie threw himself into the crowd in wat can be called an “enhanced stage-diving” as he was still holding (and playing) his low-tuned ax? Anyway, brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier, as well as Jean and guitarist Christian Andreu, were absolutely flawless with their instruments, captivating everyone with their powerful performances during the entire concert. Furthermore, Mario’s drum solo even made me forget how boring drum solos usually are, just for you to have an idea of how good he was.

Well, it’s already Sunday night, I’m back to Toronto and my neck still hurts to the point I have to move around like the old Robocop from the 80’s, but it’s that kind of pain we all love to endure after such an incredible concert of first-class heavy music. I might be getting old for the level of devastation brought forth by Gojira in Montreal, but you know what? The day I cannot get into a pulverizing mosh pit like that, the day I don’t consider the pain in my body caused by a Heavy Metal concert a good thing, I’ll call it a day. Merci beaucoup pour cette nuit incroyable, Gojira! À bientôt, j’espère!

Setlist
Only Pain
The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
Silvera
Stranded
Flying Whales
The Cell
Backbone
Terra Inc.
Wisdom Comes
Drum Solo
The Shooting Star
Toxic Garbage Island
Pray

Encore:
Clone
Oroborus
Vacuity

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

Album Review – Gojira / Magma (2016)

A rich and sophisticated album about death, overflowing anger, sadness and pain, beautifully crafted by one of France’s most prominent and innovative bands of all time.

Rating4

gojira_magmaLosing someone you love is never easy, it doesn’t matter how tough you think you are. You move on and try to live your life without that person, but you’ll always remember your (good and bad) days with him or her, and true sadness will fill your heart even if it’s just for a single moment. At the same time French brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier had to cope with the loss of their beloved mother, only a few months after relocating from Bayonne, France to New York City and building their own music studio in Queens, they were in the process of writing and composing the music for Magma, the sixth studio album from their Progressive/Groove Metal band Gojira. Hence, those negative feelings became an inner part of their compositions, and as there’s nothing better in the entire world to externalize grief, dismay and anger than heavy music, the final result in Magma is beautiful and intense.

“When you read Joe’s lyrics, for me, I cry right away. They’re very deep and to the point. No bullshit. We recycle our sadness and depression in the music”, stated Mario about the lyrical aspect of the album. In addition to that, the duration of the songs in Magma are designedly shorter than in From Mars to Sirius (2005) and L’Enfant Sauvage (2012), as explained by Joe. “We want a short album. Something less epic than what we usually do. People’s attentions are shorter now. So a lot of the songs are four minutes”, also mentioning their experimentations with some Pantera-inspired riffs, something new to them, to make their music even more impactful than usual. The freakish artwork by American artist Hibiki Miyazaki (you can check the process pics of the artwork HERE) simply complements all the darkness and pain found in Magma, adding an extra touch of desolation to the album.

The somber and heavy atmosphere in the opening track, the soulful The Shooting Star, gets even more profound due to the outstanding work done by Joe and his bandmates Christian Andreu and Jean-Michel Labadie with their stringed weapons, especially the menacing bass lines by Jean-Michel. Moreover, as aforementioned we can already witness the most sincere type of sorrow flowing through Joe’s vocals, something that only makes the whole song more captivating. Gojira’s trademark neck-breaking riffs are showcased in the sensational Silvera, obviously boosted by the precise and intricate beats by Mario. Joe invests into angrier vocals and deeper growls, with highlights to the mesmerizing riffs and the violent aura generated by all instruments, all complemented by a passionate solo before the song’s climatic ending.

Following that powerful chant we have another marvelous tune transpiring anguish and pain entitled The Cell, presenting an electrifying start (thanks to the wicked drumming by Mario) and the best elements of Groove and Progressive Metal put together. The bass guitar by Jean-Michel is always thunderous no matter the speed and heaviness of the song, which is not only the case in this exciting tune but also in Stranded, with its direct and imposing sonority led by the band’s strident riff, one of the core ingredients that make the music by Gojira so distinguished. Although this is one of those songs to destroy your neck by banging your head like a maniac, you should also pay good attention to its lyrics, which just prove how sad Joe was while writing them (“A growing sickness in the heart / Defective, lack of control / The cure is somewhere in the silence / But I’m crushed by the noise inside”).

gojira 2016Jean-Michel leads the short and eerie bridge Yellow Stone before the title-track Magma brings forward more of the band’s anguished lyrics (“The poison slowly spreads / Through the body and the mind / Close your eyes and drop your things / Be ready to fly”), flawless instrumental and atmospheric passages. Furthermore, it’s interesting how the music evolves to a darker sounding before getting back to its heavy but serene ambience. Despite beginning as heavy as hell, Pray is by far the saddest of all songs, a journey through Joe’s darkest thoughts and his personal view on what faith is while the rest of the band keeps blasting their complex, metallic and punchy lines. And if that can be considered the saddest track in Magma, Only Pain is the one emanating the highest amount of anger, with its bass and riffs piercing and blacknening your mind. Furthermore, Joe barks and screams “only pain, all in vain” in full force, providing the listener an extra taste of his pain.

The two final tracks in Magma are pure melancholy, starting with Low Lands. How not to start crying while listening to its lyrics (“While you drift away / From all the plagues of this world / You’re put out of misery, giant monster / You won’t have to face it again / Every step of the way gets you higher”)? This is a very introspective composition with some thrilling tempo changes, a song I’m sure Joe, Mario and the others are very proud of having created together. And the somber acoustic outro Liberation feels like a very personal goodbye from Joe and Mario to their deceased mother, with no words being necessary to send the desired message.

Honestly, I have no idea if Magma will please all fans of Gojira, mainly due to the small but significant changes applied to their musicality in comparison to their previous releases. Magma might not be the “evolution in music” most were expecting from such innovative and lionhearted musicians, but it’s indeed a sophisticated album written from the bottom of the hearts of each band member, overflowing anger, pain and distress from every note played. Similarly to what the chameleon David Bowie (R.I.P.) did with his masterpiece Blackstar, using it as his swan song when his inevitable death was getting near, Magma is the perfect example of how death and high-quality music always walk hand in hand.

Best moments of the album: Silvera, The Cell, Stranded and Only Pain.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. The Shooting Star 5:42
2. Silvera 3:33
3. The Cell 3:18
4. Stranded 4:29
5. Yellow Stone (Instrumental) 1:19
6. Magma 6:42
7. Pray 5:14
8. Only Pain 4:00
9. Low Lands 6:04
10. Liberation (Instrumental) 3:35

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar, flute, arrangements
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums