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Gojira - Fortitude (Album Review)

Wednesday, 05 May 2021 Written by Sam Sleight

Photo: Gabrielle Duplantier

“When you change yourself, you change the world,” is perhaps the most enduring mantra gleaned from Gojira’s 2016 record, ‘Magma’. That change, a shift further into more melodic and arena-ready territories for the French progressive death metal quartet, was met with near-unanimous critical praise and an ever-growing audience.

That evolution wasn’t by choice, but by necessity. After the passing of founding members Joe and Mario Duplantier’s mother, Patricia, they refocused their efforts into something that better communicated their grief. But with ‘Fortitude’ the pendulum swings again, back towards their thematic and sonic roots in pointed environmental activism.

The single Amazonia displays renewed anger as they defiantly rage in opposition to the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest. With its bouncing jaw harp and blunt lyricism, it feels like a simpler, but no less effective, take on the Gojira ethos heard on Toxic Garbage Island and Global Warming. 

The death metal ante of earlier records returns with gusto on New Found, Sphinx and Grind, silencing cries that Gojira have lost their heaviness, with harmonic flurries and pick scrapes signalling a retention of their core sound.

A more experimental and stronger second half sees the band break new ground in the form of The Chant, a self-described “healing anthem” that harks back to the tribal percussive heft of Sepultura’s ‘Roots’ era, but with a blues-oriented solo that is more Dire Straits than ‘Morbid Visions’. 

‘Fortitude’ is on one hand a return to safer territories, but that move is juxtaposed with music Gojira would not have been able to wrangle in their earlier years. It makes for a glorious set of guaranteed hits, though the sequencing does undermine its force a little. On balance, this is another outstanding record from metal’s brightest stars.


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