Location: Bayonne, France
Genre: Progressive/Extreme Metal
Released: September 27, 2005
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: All-Time Favorites
By: Kris Kotlarik
Have you ever seen Gojira live? No? Here you go.
They rank as one of the few bands that I would go to great cost to see live if they aren’t playing in my home city, and with great reason. They kick just as much ass live, if not more, than in the studio. And when it comes to Gojira’s studio albums, From Mars To Sirius is at the forefront of Gojira’s five albums.
This album feels like your birthday, and every single gift you get is a $50 gift card. Most of them are for places that you can find a lot of use for, some of them are just met with a reaction of “fine, I guess I’ll spend it.” Your mileage may vary. Like the gift cards, many of the songs gain their mileage from one ginormous riff, but they exploit it in such a captivating way that it doesn’t feel like you’re listening to the same riff. It’s like getting $500 for the price of $50. Prime examples come in the middle of the album; “Where Dragons Dwell,” “The Heaviest Matter in the Universe,” and “Flying Whales,” along with the opener, “Ocean Planet,” all ride one big, huge riff to glory. “Dragons” and “Whales” are quite similar in particular, both featuring brief mellow interludes before kicking into gear, but it works surprisingly well from a technical standpoint and is extremely fun to listen to.
“Backbone” and “From The Sky” both have some truly extreme riffing in brief sections; the part in “Backbone” from 1:12 to 2:28 is immense. It basically comes out of nowhere and smacks you upside the head, but arguably the best part is the measure at 1:39 with four tightly played crash hits that signifies another round. The rest of the song is great, too, but if you’re not banging your head to that section, you may be listening to the wrong genre.
“From The Sky” is heavy and chuggish through out, but it crescendos into a ball of fire following a brief calm period. This ball of fire features yet another titanic riff and an excellent display from drummer Mario Duplantier in which he pounds away on his double bass pedals for over a minute without so much as breaking a sweat. His brother, Joe, is the guitarist and lead vocalist; the band’s current lineup has been intact since 2001, and it not only shows on this album, but their later ones, including L’Enfant Sauvage, their most recent effort. Word on the street is that they are recording a new album, and I’ll be waiting in great anticipation for it.
This is probably the closest I have given to giving an album five stars in a long time. However, it suffers from City Syndrome in that it loses a lot of the steam it had picked up by the time we get closer to the end of the album. That’s not to say songs like “World To Come” and “Global Warming” are bad songs, but both of them (especially the former) lack the punch that makes the front end of the album stand out as much as it does. Interestingly, back in 2007,* Joe Duplantier listed “World To Come” as his favorite song from this album. However, he later talks about “Backbone” as a song that sums up his life, as he sees humanity and himself as more than a physical state, something that can’t be destroyed by things like age.
Lyrically, many of these tracks are about the environment in one capacity or another, which is a very odd topic for an extreme metal band to cover. The band has been known (as mentioned in the aforementioned interview), to give money to Greenpeace, but Joe also says the band does more with their lyrics than merely saving Mother Earth from the humans; their themes also revolve around spirituality, which in and of itself is an interesting topic to sing about.
Lastly, the production on this record (and Gojira records in general) is fantastic. While many records either drown out the bass or put way too much of it into the mix, it’s right on point here. Everything is balanced out and dynamic, which makes even the songs that I don’t particularly enjoy at least listenable in a full album setting.
Overall: If you’re debating whether Gojira is better in the studio or live, the answer is yes.
*Apparently, Gojira was behind Job For A Cowboy in a 2007 North America lineup. That’s cute.