By Raymond Westland
One of the most anticipated releases of this year is the new album by French progressive death/tech metal outfit Gojira. The backbone of this band is formed by guitarist/vocalist Joe Duplantier and his drumming brother Mario. Together with Christian Audreu (guitar) and Jean-Michel Labadie (bass), the Duplantier brothers almost single-handedly managed to bring their native country back on the metal map. With From Mars To Sirius (2005) and The Way Of All Flesh (2008) Gojira raised the bar pretty high for themselves. Let’s see whether L’enfant Sauvage can hold its own against its illustrious predecessors.
L’enfant Sauvage or The Wild Child symbolises Gojira’s musical independence. The new album is the perfect follow up album to 2008’s The Way Of All Flesh. The band’s trademark Morbid Angel-meets-Meshuggah sound is as potent as ever and it is pushed to new heights on tracks like “Explosia”, “Liquid Fire” and “The Gift Of Guilt”. Mario Duplantier’s considerable drumming skills were always the ace in the hole within the overall Gojira-sound. On this album he steps back a little, which gives the tracks more room to breath, thus enhancing Gojira’s trademark groove element.
The songwriting on L’enfant Sauvage is as solid as it gets. Besides a few more experimental moments such as on the title track, “The Mouth Of Kala” and “The Fall”, it’s pretty much business as usual on this album. Depending on your point of view this can either be a big plus or somewhat of a letdown. L’enfant Sauvage also lacks truly stand out tracks in the vein of “Vacuity”, “The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe” or “Backbone”. You know, the type of songs which you can really whip a crowd into a frenzy. A shame really, because Joe Duplantier and co. can do and should do better as they have proven in the past.
Production-wise the new album isn’t as slick and polished as the previous Gojira effort. I think it works out great in this particular case, because it makes L’enfant Sauvage feel less clinical and it adds an human element to the overall atmosphere.
If I had to sum up L’enfant Sauvage in a single word it would “solid”. The songwriting is top notch, the typical Gojira-groove is still very much intact and despite the occasional experimental moments it’s pretty much business as usual. This together with a lack of some really stand-out tracks make L’enfant Sauvage a solid, but a tad predictable for me. Next time around I wouldn’t mind a more experimental course…
L’enfant Sauvage will be released on June 26th.