Record Review: Gojira – L'enfant Sauvage

Every now and again you come across a metal album that makes you sit up in your chair and listen that bit closer, an album that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Vulgar Display of Power by Pantera is one such album that springs to mind, when it was released 20 years ago it was something so new and exciting it blew me away.

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Demanufacture by Fear Factory is another example, the intensity and weight of the album was groundbreaking at the time.

L’enfant Sauvage by Gojira is another of those ground breaking albums.

The albums title, L’enfant Sauvage, translates from French as ‘Wild Child’ and while on the subject of translations the bands name Gojira comes from the original Japanese word for Godzilla, their original name before being forced to change it due to legal reasons. If you have ever seen the film of Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno the opening sequence shows a Japanese fisherman in hospital muttering the word ‘Gojira’ repeatedly when being asked about what caused his ship to sink.

Gojira hail from France and have been around since 1996 but it has only been in recent years they have started to be noticed. The band consists of the Duplantier brothers; Joe and Mario, who cover the vocal/rhythm guitar and drum duties respectively. Lead guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie complete the line-up, one which has remained unchanged since the bands formation, a rare thing for any band these days.

It is worth pointing out that this is not an album for the faint hearted, it is brutal stuff but done with a deftness that you seldom find in the heavy metal arena. It is easy to produce something heavy but to be able to weave subtleness, emotion and groove into that is a real achievement. Imagine the intelligence of Tool layered with the weight of Meshuggah and the groove of Pantera and you have an idea of what we are talking about here.

Stand out moments are numerous but if I had to pick one then the opening track Explosia would be a good place to start. The way the riff kicks in at around 0:34 seconds is pretty special but keep listening through until you hit the breakdown at 3:55…. turn the volume up as loud as you can and wait for the song to come back in, it is immense. The guitars lock together and remain constant while the drum patterns alternate in a fantastically offbeat polyrhythm.

This is a band that is passionate and committed to their craft, they are perfectionists, always striving to make the best records they can and to ensure that their live performances do full justice to the original record.

I do not hesitate for a moment in recommending that if metal is your thing you buy this album immediately, put your headphones on, lay down in the dark and discover one of the best metal releases in a long time.

L’enfant Sauvage is out now on Roadrunner Records
For more info visit www.gojira-music.com

Phil is all about the music but with a particular fondness for anything loud, shouty or with songs longer than 10 minutes. When not writing reviews he can be found in Oxford playing bass guitar, reading anything he can get his hands on or walking his little dog Poppy. He can also be found on Twitter @peejaybe or blogging at www.consistentlyaverage.co.uk

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