Gojira
The Way of All Flesh

In “The Art of Dying,” vocalist Joe Duplantier growls, ‘Take no possessions; I would rather travel light’ – but this thunderous, harrowing meditation on death is anything but. That track, arguably the core of The Way of All Flesh, begins with shamanic chants and tribal drumming before puncturing the veil to the other side – where a tumultous, rather than peaceful, new state awaits all of us.

The crushing inevitability of that transition is the thrust of Gojira‘s new album. And in a step away from the delicate/heavy dichotomy found in sludge bands like Isis or Cult of Luna, Gojira shows that you don’t need to inject slow, ambient post-rock into your tracks in order to be transportive. Ultimately, it’s the contrast that matters, and throughout the album, Gojira‘s ability to go from sinuous rhythms to sledgehammer blows – with some new twists as well – creates a complete experience that will leave you drained.

“Oroborus” immediately begins the journey on a surprising note, weaving an rippling, twisty riff along a spine of rugged chug, like the titular snake devouring itself. Duplantier’s harsh, oddly clipped roar and the unexpected nimbleness of that main riff suggest that The Way of All Flesh might take a page from proggy forebears like Cynic or Tool – a thought that’s seconded by the album’s strangest track, “A Sight to Behold.” There, Goblin-esque snyths and a even more processed, clipped vocal delivery suggest something closer to industrial than sludge, but then the swinging melody in the chorus confounds you yet again. If the entire album were like “Sight”, it might be too far afield, but the track is far-reaching and different enough to make you want some similar mutations later on.

Instead, Gojira chooses to leave their evolutionary wanderings there, which would be disappointing had the rest of the album not been so damn satisfying on its own merits. Tracks like “Toxic Garbage Island,” with its lurching, Pantera-meets-Enslaved groove, or the explosive “Esoteric Surgery” deliver more of what made From Mars to Sirius such a monster. Gojira even show that you can be relentless with a chaotic rhythmic approach (“Adoration of None,” featuring corrosive guest vocals by Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe), or a more stripped-down one, as on the stomping, martial “Vacuity.” Either way, it’s a pulverizing experience.

Ultimately, it will take a few more listens to convince me whether this is better than their previous album, but the quality, class and thoughtfulness make The Way of All Flesh a more than worthy follow-up. As for the strange, fleeting experiments and progressive leanings on some of the album’s tracks, it will be interesting to see which ones survive into the next album and which ones, like all of us, are destined to die out and disappear.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
December 31st, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Redstar

    I found their last album to be much more cohesive as an album entire. The way of all flesh sounds like they recorded 20 songs, and picked 10 to be on the album. I am enjoying it, though not as much as “From mars to sirius”.


  2. Commented by: bast

    Good review, Top 10 2008 for sure! \m/


  3. Commented by: Vance

    Listening to this now and I am surprised as to how much I am liking it, seems like in the past I slagged these guys off as some sort of South American tribal metal Sepultura wannabe clone and now I am thinking where the hell did I come up with that (arent they French)? This is some excellent stuff.


  4. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    i agree with Redstar, FMTS was sooooo good that this seems a little pale in comparison despite being a solid album


  5. Commented by: Apollyon

    Like it’s been said, there’s no way the new one can compete with From Mars to Sirius, but it’s been growing on me as of late. One of the better albums of 2008 for sure.


  6. Commented by: gabaghoul

    @ Vance – you need to go check out From Mars to Sirius right away. I wrote them off at first as trendy ‘core ‘casue I saw a video on Headbanger’s Ball, but I was very very wrong – this is excellent stuff and that album will blow your mind.


  7. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    I agree totally with Erik and Redstar – this album hasn’t captured me in the same way that From Mars did. God, i listened to that non-stop for a year. Still worthy though…


  8. Commented by: Mike

    Great album. The production and mixing duties by Mr. Logan Mader is so so good.


  9. Commented by: Dan

    This is a weird album. It’s good. Really good in fact. It’s just…dense, for lack of a better term. Not something to sit through in one sitting.


  10. Commented by: gozer

    even after a few listens, i hear a few good tracks, the rest just bores the hell out of me. i guess i just don’t “get” this band.


  11. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Very different from From Mars To Sirius but a worthy follow-up. Still, I hate it when artists reach insurmountable peaks and then keep releasing records (read: The Jester Race, The Gallery, And Justice For All, Rust In Peace, Seasons In The Abyss, etc) because as good as they may be, they’ll always be compared to that one moment in time where the band was flawless.


  12. Commented by: gabaghoul

    if that were true then Opeth should have stopped after Morningrise, robbing us of… everything they’ve put out since. :)


  13. Commented by: faust666

    Thought I’d revisit this album.. and what an album it is !! Very well written review too !!


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