GOJIRA — Fortitude (review)

GOJIRA — Fortitude album cover Album · 2021 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Rising again like its namesake icon, the French extreme metal band GOJIRA is back with its seventh studio album FORTITUDE which finds the band further exploring hitherto unpursued sonic palettes like few others in the world of metal who more often than not become fairly cozy in a comfort zone. This head banging quartet of Joe Duplantier (vocals, guitar), Mario Duplantier (drums), Christian Andreu (guitar) and Jean-Michel Labadie (bass) has never been one to rest on its laurels and although GORJIRA has taken a somewhat more accessible, dare i say even more commercial route on its previous album “Magma,” somehow this quartet successfully maintains its core integrity of infusing the disparate metal subgenera of death metal, groove metal and alternative metal into one cauldron of hot steaming sonic sensationalism.

It’s been a five year break since “Magma” and the metal world has changed a lot getting even weirder and more diverse but somehow GORJIRA continues the path of exploring new sonic textures while maintaining the energetic chugging drive, extraordinary musical dexterity and metal hybridism. What’s new on FORTITUDE is that the band takes the previous alternative metal approach that debuted on “Magma” and branches out into myriad directions thus creating a delightful mix of moods, dynamics and rhythmic bombast unlike any other album in its canon. While the progressive excesses of the first two albums have long been tamped down as well as the epic progressive feel of the following pair of albums that followed, FORTITUDE still stays connected to all those previous eras while exploring a more varied range of timbres, tones, echo effects and production values.

While many have long written off this band as some sort of sellout, i personally find these later albums to be quite dynamic as they provide instantly catchy metal hooks in the classic sense while exploring various detours into moments of clean vocal progressive rock, Pantera-esque groove metal as well as the intense urgency of a Rage Against The Machine album most likely courtesy of engineer Andy Wallace who worked with that band as well as Nirvana thus giving that angry 90s grunge feel at times. And of course it wouldn’t be a GOJIRA album without a plethora of polyrhythms where barrages of guitar riffs, pummeling percussion and bantering bass grooves provide crushing metal monstrosities while Joe Duplantier brazenly belts out his soul crushing screams.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference for FORTITUDE is the production and the heavy uses of atmospheres which provides the perfect counterpoint to the galloping grooving guitar riffs and the incessant guitar sailing that accompanies. As far as tempo changes go, FORTITUDE may not embrace the chaotic free-for-all proggy complexities as “Terra Incognita” and “The Link” but still manages to squeeze in a few oddball time signatures between the steady rhythmic drive as well as delivering extreme curve balls as heard on the tribal percussion dominated title track accompanied by unorthodox wordless vocal harmonizing which actually serves as an intro to the following track “The Chant.”

When all is said and done i can totally understand why many may not be too thrilled with these easier listening experiences of GOJIRA when compared to the epic and experimental sounds of yore but as far as an accessible melodic metal album is concerned, GOJIRA does an excellent job keeping FORTITUDE engaging from beginning to end in my book. These songs are not only catchy but crafty and creative with subtleties that may require a few spins before really sinking in. I think i actually prefer this one to “Magma” as that previous album didn’t quite have the repeat visit enjoyability but this one has just enough ear wormy hooks to signify a respite into its majesty! While i wouldn’t call FORTITUDE my all time GOJIRA album by any means, i’m actually quite surprise how much i love this one. What will this monstrous band come up with next? Will we have to wait another five years? Chances are a new phase of the band will begin.
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Necrotica wrote:
4 days ago
Nice review! I'm more lukewarm on this, but there are still plenty of good songs nonetheless
Tupan wrote:
8 days ago
Great review indeed, I love the variety in this album!
8 days ago
Great review. After a few listens, I'd agree in saying this is a more consistent album than Magma.

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