Gojira The Way Of All Flesh
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02. Toxic Garbage Island
03. A Sight To Behold
04. Yama's Messengers
05. The Silver Cord
06. All The Tears
07. Adoration For None
08. The Art Of Dying
09. Esoteric Surgery
11. Wolf Down The Earth
12. The Way Of All Flesh
France's Gojira pounced upon the international stage with 2006's From Mars To Sirius. Blending the tech tendencies of Meshuggah, the grinding lurch of Neurosis, and the formidable virtuosity of Morbid Angel, the band created unique songs out of disparate influences. They staked their claim to a parcel of land in the continually growing real estate of "prog-metal," home to such bands as Isis, Mastodon, Intronaut and Baroness. These are bands flying the metal flag proudly while boldly pushing their songs beyond the outdated borders of death metal, thrash, grindcore, tech metal, etc. These are exciting times in heavy music and Gojira deliver what could be the most satisfyingly multifaceted metal record of 2008.
The Way Of All Flesh is a meticulously crafted and expertly executed record: dense in nuances and bursting with dynamics. The record requires undivided attention and thorough examination, an effort that rewards the listener with a bounty of musical treasures buried within. That isn't to say the album lacks immediate moments of total musical ecstasy: opener "Oroborus" features whirling hammer-on guitar riffs that buzz like helicopter blades over the undulating percussion. It's easily the catchiest and most daunting track the band has written. What follows is a vertiginous array of metal, from blast-beat volleys to crunching dirge breakdowns. Vocalist/guitarist Joe Duplantier drapes the music in his guttural roars, though with more melodic departures than previously heard.
Drummer Mario Duplantier seems to benefit most from the dazzling production. He adds jazz flourishes amidst the brutal assaults, sounding like a mix of Buddy Rich and Tomas Haake. Joe Duplantier and Christian Andreu also up the axe ante, piling on frenzied riff patterns and squealing leads. "Vacuity" serves as one of the more extreme examples of the contrasting dichotomy between the guitars and the rhythm section (sounding beefier than ever thanks to bassist Jean-Michel Labadie's aggressive performance). The coalescing of their diverging parts is staggering and majestic. Indeed, Gojira have turned up the tech knob on this album. Only Meshuggah (an obvious influence) better displays such a tenacious grip on precision in the face of spiraling time signatures.
Though they've taken their metal to new heights, the band strives to diversify their already varied resume. "A Sight To Behold" introduces an industrial side. The song begins with basic a rock beat, synthesizers and robot-vocals that then collapse beneath aguitar-lathered avalanche. "The Silver Chord" serves as a dark instrumental sojourn and the eye of the musical storm. Perhaps thanks in part to Joe Duplantier joining the Cavalera Conspiracy, the album shows flashes of influence from Roots-era Sepultura, particularly on the didgeridoo and tribal drum intro to "The Art Of Dying."
As musically adventurous as The Way Of All Flesh is, the lyrics remain routine for Gojira. They continue their lyrical eco-warrior pursuits. While some of the words paint a picture of despair and hopelessness, they still manage to persevere in the face of rampant environmental degradation and societal devastation. Joe Duplantier shouts like a self-help guru: "Now you know you are the one to change the face of the world" and "You have the power to heal yourself." Those may seem tired sentiments. Yet they exude a hair-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck electric shock effect when delivered this passionately. At the very least Gojira addresses topics beyond the mundane nihilism of most metal, black, death, thrash or otherwise.
Though rich in attributes, The Way Of All Flesh is a long album. Attention spans have attenuated remarkably and it's hard to predict if the audiences in 2008 can fully digest and appreciate a record over an hour in length. Some tracks would have benefited from shedding a minute or two. The second half of the record in particular bulges with questionably long jams. Nevertheless, it's a minor gripe. And Justice For All felt like an eternity yet has stood the test of time. This record lifts Gojira into that pantheon.
Bottom Line: Gojira give us their best record yet. It might just be the best metal record 2008. Given their boundless musical talent and artistic vision, it's no surprise this album is so intricate, diverse and kick ass.
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