Much like the ever-present climate issues that make up the band’s mission statement, Gojira remain a constant force of nature. Something seemingly unstoppable and brimming with unrivalled power, Fortitude continues the trend of Gojira perfectly encapsulating why they sit at the very peak of the metal summit.
Now seven albums deep into their career, Gojira could quite easily rest on their laurels and release another excellent example of earth shattering death metal without expending much effort. However, as many great artists do, they continue to evolve and experiment, stepping into territories many of their contemporaries would fear to tread. Following on from 2016’s masterwork, Magma, it seems as though Gojira have once again meticulously crafted a collection of tracks that exude in equal parts both power and elegance.
‘Born For One Thing’ starts proceedings familiarly enough; the unmistakable roar of the bands guitars and powerhouse rhythm section kick things off with serious force. Its driving riffs and apocalyptic breakdowns provide an audible backdrop to the world tearing itself apart.
Those looking for more pummelling brutality will not be disappointed- tracks like ‘Sphinx’ and ‘Grind’ could easily find themselves on some of the band’s earlier material, with ‘Grind’ in particular utilising the infamous Gojira pick scrape to ferocious effect. ‘Newfound’ is another highlight; its whammy tinged riffs and inescapable chugging grooves make it impossible to resist banging your head.
However, sheer heaviness is not all Fortitude has to offer. Deeper into the record we are greeted with more twists and turns, as the band delve further into previously unexplored territory. Moments like the opening of the mammoth ‘Hold On’ and the fist pumping chorus of ‘Into the Storm’ showcase the band’s newfound emphasis on big melodies and hooks. Penultimate track ‘The Trails,’ with its winding intricate guitar riff, displays a great understanding of dynamics. It keeps the listener on the very edge of their seat for its duration, as it builds towards an explosive conclusion that teasingly never comes.
The record’s clear centrepiece is the euphoric anthem entitled ‘The Chant,’ its infectious ‘woah woahs’ seem tailor made for stadium sized crowds to lose their voices to. Whilst the band have always toyed with the occasional melodic vocal, this seems like the biggest leap they have taken yet. And even though it may upset some of the death metal purists, its brilliance is undeniable.
Fortitude as an album features a sense of warmth not found on any other Gojira record. It feels more earthy, more human and more rooted in the world it was created in. The added instrumentation on tracks like ‘Amazonia’ create a worldly atmosphere, evoking feelings of Roots era Sepultura, and whilst their sound carries such destructive power, Gojira are only intent on healing the planet. Even though the album does have its occasional dips (the plodding ‘Another World’ for instance feels a little underwhelming) Gojira have yet again pushed the envelope for modern extreme metal.
Fortitude is out now via Roadrunner Records