Release Date: 17 June 2016
Review by Rod Whitfield
Gojira. The French masters, they are an enigma wrapped up in a mystery inside a puzzle, whilst remaining one of the most important and interesting bands in metal. Important, both from the point of view of their musical output, which is very much at the cutting edge of progressive and heavy music, and of the fact that they have spearheaded the French metal movement that has exploded into the consciousness of heavy music fans the world over in the last ten to fifteen years. And interesting in that they challenge their audience with every record.
They never tread water, musically. They experiment, they shake things up, they throw curve balls at you, whilst at the same time sounding ferociously like themselves on every album. Harder than it sounds to achieve, as many bands have proved.
And Magma is no exception to this. In fact, Magma is a great title, an apt title. Maybe magma infused with quicksilver. It moves slowly, but burns and destroys all in its path, and it’s difficult to pin down, to put into words, exactly what makes it so different. Both from previous Gojira albums and from virtually anything else that’s going on in heavy music at the moment.
There are a few things that can be cited. The songs are a little more pared down, a little more direct, mostly coming in at around the three to five-minute mark. Maybe slightly less epic and grandiose than on previous records, although countering that a little is a slightly increased use of Joe Duplantier’s more ethereal vocals and a general vibe more laden with ambience and tension.
Don’t worry, the album still slams you violently between the eyes when it needs to, especially on Pray, Only Pain and Stranded, which remains the album’s best cut. It just does so in a typically and uniquely Gojira-style way.
Magma is a strange beast, full of quirk and wonder, heavy as hell and yet heavy in an unearthly kind of way. Their great opus of 2005, From Mars to Sirius, is always going to be a tough act to follow, but this album is still a massively worthy addition to Gojira’s illustrious canon of work.
Magma: Track Listing
01. The Shooting Star
03. The Cell
05. Yellow Stone
08. Only Pain
09. Low Lands