Gojira – Fortitude: Album Review

Gojira unleash their new album Fortitude which shows a band at the peak of their creative powers, combining full on metal, with an extraordinary range of other musical influences.

Release date: 30 April 2021

Label: Roadrunner Records

Format: DL/CD/Vinyl

Gojira, founded in 1996, released their debut album Terra Incognita in 2001, and now on their seventh album Fortitude, are a global metal phenomenon. A band who also to their considerable credit, are committed to active campaigning on environmental issues. 

This reviewer first saw the band at the 2011 Sonisphere Festival on the third ‘Bohemia’ stage where they completely wowed a packed crowd. Then on the main stage at the 2013 Bloodstock Festival, where they played in the sunshine, joined on stage during an incendiary set, by Randy Blythe of Lamb of God, subsequently witnessing them deservedly headlining the Bloodstock Festival in 2018.

With Fortitude, the band have taken another major step forward, deftly widening their musical palette. Born For One Thing, the opening track, is utterly ferocious, unleashing an astonishing audio collision of death metal, and symphonic metal, with its anthemic musical motifs. The polyrhythmic drum patterns blasted out by Mario Duplantier are completely jaw dropping. The guitar riffs by Joe Duplantier and  Christian Andreu are impossibly heavy and jagged. Joe’s vocals rage across the song, in both classic death metal growl, and clean soaring notes, on the infectious chorus. You can view the accompanying video for the song here

Amazonia is a heart rendering treatise on the threat to the Amazon rainforest, with the music combining indigenous folk instruments with groove laden death metal rhythms. The line “The greatest miracle, is burning to the ground” is a passionate call to action by the band, and proceeds from the song will benefit the indigenous Guarani and Kaiowa tribes.

Fortitude, the title track, has a cool jazzy feel, with interweaving percussion and acoustic sounding bass, and floating dreamy wordless harmony vocals, with the refrain created by the harmonies, seamlessly flowing into The Chant. The Chant is a song with a mystical and spiritual like atmosphere, with an almost jazz like swing to the melodies. There is some elegiac melodic soloing by the guitars, which along with the doom metal based riff, gives the song both an harmonic and heavy edge. 

Sphinx, in contrast, is in classic death metal mode, with a pummelling earth shaking riff, and feels like a head banging anthem, absolutely perfect for a festival or gig.

Into The Storm, is perhaps the pinnacle of this great album, with its gentle percussive led beginning, that slams into a tumultuous wall of sound, relentlessly driven by some impressively intense and precision drumming, and bass playing, courtesy of Mario and bass player Jean-Michel Labadie. It’s also a song imbued at certain points with the melodic and harmonic flair of prog giants Yes. Something also in play on the album’s final track Grind. The lyrics  of Into The Storm speak to the rebirth of personal agency, with striking lines such as “You were hiding/Now you throw yourself/Into the storm”.

Gojira on this excellent album, evidence passion, commitment, a restless spirit, and exciting boundary crossing musicianship, that makes it clear that this band will never stand still, and will continue to surprise and delight the metal world and beyond. 

Gojira online: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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