Album Reviews: L’Enfant Sauvage by Gojira
Posted by RiffRaff
Gojira ever becoming as big as they have is something I would have never expected. After first hearing them when they were making waves with 2006’s From Mars to Sirius and falling in love with that record I thought they would experience some good deal of success, but never would have imagined that they would become the near household name they are today. It’s not like their percussive, experimental, and progressive brand of metal isn’t exactly an easy listen. 2008’s The Way of All Flesh pushed them higher up in the metal ranks and now in 2012 it seems that the anticipation in the metal realm for their latest opus L’Enfant Sauvage (The Wild Child) has hit some pretty big levels getting coverage on sites I would never expect metal to appear (BBC, really!?!?). So, after all the hype does the new release live up to the bar set by the former and the anticipation. Well, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes, with a very small no in there that really doesn’t affect anything, so, YES.
If you are one of the few to not have experienced Gojira yet, their style is composed of very complex, percussive, and tight riffs and rhythms with a very distinctive guitar tone all held together by the mindbogglingly phenomenal and emotional drumming of Mario Duplantier. The best band comparison I can make is that they sound like an organic version of Meshuggah and are all round more accessible and easier to listen to. Lyrically and thematically they are right up my alley with environmentally charged lyrics focusing on the spirit and energy of the Earth, the beauty of our planet and it’s inhabitants, and the love for and the horrible things done to Mother Nature. They also employ philosophical and introspective themes often. Joe Duplantier’s lyrics take on a poetic sense often telling a first person tale from the third person. His distinct growls and singing voice are always very clear and understandable and are a big factor that adds much emotion to the music and ultimately gives it that organic feel. All the key points and style Gojira is known for are flowing at full force here on L’Enfant Sauvage.
Just to get my tiny negative point out of the way before I start drooling all over the record: from album to album over the course of their previous 4 L.P.’s Gojira showed a great amount of growth on each record. Not just in terms of ability or songwriting skill, but their sound made strong progressions forward. The groovy and jazzy sound of From Mars to Sirus to the dark and claustrophobic feel of The Way of All Flesh, like that. L’Enfant Sauvage, while still showing a good amount of progression, feels like it’s more of a continuation of the previous than the band forging new paths. Still there is a whole lot more forward momentum when compared to many other bands, it’s just that the bar was set a little too high here. While my expectations in that regard weren’t fulfilled, what was satisfied was the want of a rock solid album by a band with a wholly unique style filled to the brim with texture, emotion, and heart with plenty of room for me to headband till the cows come home.
Wasting no time in getting to the brutality the aptly titled “Explosia” starts the record of with one hell of a bang. Jean-Michel Labadie’s bass grooves make the song just overflow with motion and Christian Andreu trademark tone and pick squeals give the tune character and volume. Of course there is the brothers Duplantier, but to avoid sounding redundant, let’s just say they kick some major ass. Towards the end of the song a slow atmospheric layer made up of a guitar using a surf rock tone blends in with the chugs and grooves already established; that little bit adds so much texture, atmosphere, and fullness to the song. These aspects continue on for the rest of the album as it seems that is the main bullet point Gojira decided to focus on musically on the record.
Throughout the 11 songs on the record the tone of the record is quite oppressive with atmospheres so thick and demanding that you are rarely given the opportunity to breath. One of my favorite tracks on the record comes in the form of musical filler situated at the center of the record to give the listener a nice, big opportunity to take some relaxed deep breaths. “The Wild Healer” is an instrumental track that for the mere 1:48 it runs revolves around a repeating, rolling and bouncing keyboard rhythm. That rhythm is so hypnotic and paired with Mario’s drumming I can only imagine it is what the Earth’s heartbeat sounds like in her core. Other high point on the album include the intrinsic title track “L’Enfant Sauvage” that very rapidly put me into a metal trace. “Liquid Fire” is one of the speedier songs on the record, but for its velocity it remains tight and focused, like an expert race car driver driving the fastest he’s ever gone and not making one slowing mistake elating him to an otherworldly transcendental state.
“The Gift of Guilt” takes some of the beauty established on “The Wild Healer” and expands and explores on it more which leads to some beautifully chaotic and destructive music. The albums 2 final songs left me with one strong impact as “Born in Winter” and “The Fall” both personify they pain we are bringing about to out majestic home. The tone is heavy, moody, and at times torturous. You can really feel the artist’s love for the planet gushing out of the music. The love put behind the music and its themes are able to transcend the negative aura around the songs and ultimately allow positive energy to flow through. A very rare feat that Gojira collectively pull off without a hitch.
L’Enfant Sauvage is a flawless record and should be owned by any lover of metal. Even those who wish to hear something wildly original in the musical landscape will find plenty to love on this record as long as they keep an open mind. There are very few bands able to be as technical and cerebral as Gojira while still maintaining a natural and organic sound. The music is challenging yet accessible, the lyrics are well thought out and on this record they find more philosophical and introspective themes compared to their previous offerings (still plenty of environmental themes in there). Damn, everything about L’Enfant Sauvage is just brimming with spit shined polish and quality. The fact that the growth from their previous record to this being not as great as it has been in the past doesn’t take a damn thing away from the overall experience. I’m sure that this album will sell like hot cakes and will widen their fanbase even further and deeper. Gojira truly deserves every ounce of success and I pray that they go on to reach the highest of echelons of metals ranks. This is a must own album, so go get it, and if you’ve never checked out Gojira’s back catalog grab that while you’re at it, maybe you can find a good package deal, it’s worth it.