Gojira

The Way Of All Flesh

Written by: EW on 24/11/2008 22:31:29

Regular perusers of these sultry pages should hopefully not have failed to notice my sheer all-encompassing love of Gojira's 'break-through' record "From Mars To Sirius", a love which isn't a passing flirtation with 'some' band but a passion for those 12 songs which still results in goosebumps after dozens of listens. In my mind I am confident in saying it is in my top 3 albums since the turn of the millennium, no mean feat when you know the size of my collection, alas all thus resulting in some stupidly high expectations on my part for their follow-up three years in the making, "The Way Of All Flesh". The problem with loving a band and/or album so obsessively much is that almost all else is destined to remain in the shadows, so the question is: does "The Way Of All Flesh" see any sunlight?

What had first caught my attention to French metallers Gojira a few years ago now was their adept use of varying tempos and feels not only across the songs of an album, but also within individual songs. Coupled with the fact that in "Backbone" (among others) these ears were presented with some of the damn finest riffs they've ever been assaulted with and the reason for the critical praise lavished upon Gojira is clear. In creating "The Way Of All Flesh" Gojira have stuck very much to the formula perfected on "From Mars..." after the admirable work-in-progress "The Link", which is a recipe featuring "Covenant"/"Domination" era Morbid Angel at their most brutal, the staccato-riffing of Meshuggah and Strapping Young Lad at their most complex and massive, gigantic, godzillian vocal patterns that, well, I'll be damned if I've ever heard this side of a Bon Jovi classic. "The Art Of Dying" two-thirds through is the perfect example of these features: the free-spirited nature of the closing half of it's 10-minutes hiding the fact the earlier chorus takes the breath away, unilaterally matching the epic, humanitarian and sociological themed lyrics Gojira specialise in. Just to highlight my point about the power of that 'r' word, the whiplashing introduction to "Esoteric Surgery" cannot be disliked by any converts to the church of Riffology, there is no questioning that.

Looking for weak aspects of Gojira work is difficult. Production is superb, as is the artwork again, eschewing all conventional metal themes and cliches for another unique presentation. Every performance is spot-on, with brothers Duplantier deserving of special recognition: drummer Mario mixing the heavy and light with the dexterity of an octopus, and Joe on vocals (and guitar) furthering his claim for one of the most recognisable voices in metal with his hoarse, chanted and clean styles used to emphasise the qualities of the music, rather than to simply sit on top. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the album's weakest track, "Adoration For None" is that most clearly emphasised by the style of it's guest vocalist, Randy Blythe of Lamb Of God, bearing unwanted gifts of semi-hardcore chanting and an almost-appearance of a 'beatdown'. Yuk. Claims of a lack of feeling by some in the output of Gojira seems to me wholly unjustified; yes they are well produced, however not 'shiny', but the passion in Joe's vocals with the virtue that Gojira rip out the corking riffs in moderation gives the ones that greet us marked approval.

As if Gojira had a point to prove, opener "Oroborus" is born of a cascading twisting riff, in the process proving Gojira have got better riffs than 95% of others out there. That's after just one riff! More moderately paced, "A Sight To Behold"'s spine lead riff spreads it's infectious influence amongst all others, upon which Joe pessimistically bleats "the way I see things is so simple/ the fact I'm living dying on this land/ exhausted is the realm of nature", sentiments I would claim to share to large degree. So, unlike the state of the Earth, does "The Way Of All Flesh" see sunlight and a positive future? Yes. Direct comparisons with the 10/10 "From Mars..." are difficult at this infant stage but Gojira have avoided settling wholly within it's vast shadow, instead building upon their unique style with another expertly-crafted slab of modern metal for every metaller. There is no arguing with this godzilla.

Download: The Art Of Dying, Esoteric Surgery, Oroborus
For The Fans Of: Morbid Angel, Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 13.10.08
Listenable Recordings
Provided by Target ApS

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