Gojira - Fortitude - Album Review - Melodic Death Metal from Bayonne, France

Gojira - Fortitude - Album Review - Melodic Death Metal from Bayonne, France
Gojira - Fortitude - Album Review - Melodic Death Metal from Bayonne, France

Today, we are honored to feature the highly respected French melodic death metal band, Gojira, from Bayonne, as we delve into their ninth studio album, Fortitude.

In the realm of metal, few bands have achieved the level of excellence and innovation demonstrated by Gojira. With each release, they have consistently pushed boundaries and set themselves apart from the rest of the metal scene, second only to Mastodon in my opinion. These two bands stand as prime examples of genre-defining acts in the post-2000 era.

I first discovered Gojira many years ago when I came across a screenshot picture of James Hetfield holding their album, L'enfant Sauvage. I am grateful for the inspiration, music, and the incredible quality they bring to the metal world. As I write this review on April 26th, I have had the opportunity to listen to the five songs released thus far: Another World, Born For One Thing, Amazonia, Into the Storm, and The Chant.

This new album from Gojira, Fortitude, comes from a band that has developed an iconic sound over the years, blending death metal vocals, powerful guitar riffs, attitude, musicality, and technical prowess. Gojira stands as one of the most iconic figures in the realm of death metal, and Fortitude presents an opportunity for them to showcase something unprecedented. Setting such a high bar after all these years may seem challenging, considering they have already created numerous classics that could sustain their live performances throughout their careers. However, Fortitude does not deviate from the established rules of the game in my eyes.

I pondered the order in which they released these songs. Typically, the most popular track is unveiled first, as we have seen throughout metal history, such as Metallica's Enter Sandman from their classic Black Album (1991) or Gojira's Stranded from their renowned Magma (2016). Surprisingly, Gojira chose to debut Fortitude with their melodic yet signature song, Another World, which immediately reminded me of one of their classics, Born in Winter. The song arrived with a mind-blowing animated music video, concluding with a scene that perfectly captures the essence of these French virtuosos. Gojira has undoubtedly become one of the most influential bands of the 21st century.

The subsequent release, Born For One Thing, is a quintessential Gojira track brimming with energy, accompanied by a cinematic music video set in a museum. While I appreciated the overall essence of the song, I felt that it lacked that one element that would propel it to the upper echelons of Gojira's discography. Nevertheless, the level of aggression present is more than satisfying, and the band's decision to keep it simple and punchy is respectable.

Next on the release plan was a thematic song called Amazonia, featuring a memorable riff that may become instantly recognizable. Having witnessed Gojira cover Sepultura in some of their live shows, I immediately thought that this song might serve as their homage to Sepultura's influence on their musical foundation—a classy move. In my own band, we also plan to pay tribute to the godfather of death metal, Chuck Schuldiner (Death). Such gestures earn my respect, and Gojira truly deserves it all.

The fourth release in their catalog was the song that combined both melodic and technical aspects of Gojira, Into the Storm. It starts with a fantastic groove that gallops towards the chorus, never losing its tension until the very end. The song's dynamic quality and irresistible energy make it an instant favorite.

The final song released prior to the album's launch was another thematic track, The Chant. Personally, this song resonated with me the least. After reading some comments and reflecting on my initial feelings, I now concur with the consensus, as expressed by James Brewer in a YouTube comment: "Not gonna lie, thousands of people singing to this would actually be awesome live."

Fortitude unquestionably ranks among the finest metal albums of our era, primarily due to Gojira's musical character. Their sound has become so solid and iconic over the years that whenever I hear them play, I am immediately reassured that it cannot be a bad song. As I continue this review on April 30th, my confidence in this album grows. I have loved every aspect of it, with one exception: I do not believe it surpasses L'Enfant Sauvage, my all-time favorite album. L'Enfant Sauvage represents a prime example of progressive death metal, standing alongside albums by Opeth and the pioneers of death metal, Death.

Technically, Fortitude reaches top-class standards with one flaw. It delivers the punchiest and most powerful sonic experience I have encountered in quite some time, as expected from Gojira. They have earned their esteemed status for a reason. Countless great bands, both established and underground, have produced solid albums, but Gojira holds a special place in the hearts of the metal community due to their unwavering dedication, humility, and loyalty to their sound.

The aforementioned flaw lies in the volume level of the vocals in the mix. Joe Duplantier possesses one of the most melodic and iconic voices in the death metal scene. He is a vocal magician, harnessing his immense potential in a truly unique way. Throughout the years, no Gojira fan has ever had an issue with his vocals; on the contrary, they have been a highlight that ignites our passion. In Fortitude, the band has experimented with a tighter sound, which is flawless in its execution. However, they have also aimed to take Joe's iconic vocal mix to the next level, a goal I understand completely. After all, Gojira constantly strives for improvement with each record. Yet, in this instance, the vocals' volume level is lower than in their previous albums, and I have yet to acclimate to this adjustment.

In conclusion, the Metalhead Community Team extends heartfelt congratulations to Gojira for the release of their new album, Fortitude, and wishes them continued success in their future endeavors. Thank you for joining us on this musical journey.

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