Release Date: Oct 14, 2008
Record label: Prosthetic
Genre(s): Rock, Metal
Not exactly the coziest of bedfellows, France and America go together about as well as oil and water, both cultures viewing the other with barely-hidden condescension, each country oddly intrigued by the other, but glad they don’t live there. So it’s no surprise at all that French interpretations of guitar-based rock music have completely failed to attract large audiences Stateside, aside from cult faves Stereolab. However, the tide is definitely starting to turn, thanks to Gojira, a hard-working metal band from the Southwest coast of France, a foursome that finds itself all of a sudden leading an unprecedented wave of exceptional French heavy acts (including Deathspell Omega, Hacride, Alcest, Blut Aus Nord, Year of No Light, Eths, Destinity, Peste Noire, and Dagoba) that continually attract attention in the underground scene.
It wasn’t just the ecological themes that set Gojira apart from the rest of death metal’s heathen hordes on their previous album, From Mars to Sirius. Just as important was the fact that they could write a song called “The Heaviest Matter of the Universe” with no irony or exaggeration. The Bayonne, France-based quartet matched the weight of its lyrics, about our spiritual connection with the environment, with an equally weighty guitar tone and ten-ton riffs that bored straight into the earth’s core.
France might not be the first place that pops to mind when it comes to progressive death metal, but over the last decade or so France's Gojira have become a popular anomaly in North America. The quintet sounds so much like Lamb of God that at times they're nearly indistinguishable. Whereas the latter focus on the socially decrepit fabric of the States, Gojira's subjects are much more cerebral - even highbrow.
The third CD from this French quartet comprises the same environmentally minded death metal as 2005's From Mars to Sirius. Tight and heavy and not terribly fast, The Way of All Flesh recalls Cathedral or Entombed in its groovier moments, but, more often, the chromatic, midtempo riffs and heavily syncopated drumming echo Mastodon. Indeed, this is the case with some of the strongest tracks, such as the choppy, lurching "Toxic Garbage Island."For better and worse, Gojira doesn't have the vision of today's best metal; its music is purer, without much tendency to sound commercial, but also without a sense of reinvention.