Recommended Aussie Band:Tamerlan Empire | Sydney Symphonic Black Metal | Listen

Album Reviews : Gojira – From Mars to Sirius

By on February 1, 2010

gojira_whales240If you are after something brutally heavy, yet refreshingly different, Gojira are the new kids on the block for you. From Mars to Sirius (2005) is the band’s third studio effort following Terra Incognita (2001) and The Link (2003) but the first that really declares that they are ready to play on the big metal stage. The band’s difficult-to-define brand of metal, placing somewhere bizarrely between death, groove, progressive and thrash, with comparisons to Meshuggah or Lamb of God not being too badly placed, is certainly unlike the vast majority of metal out there. From Mars to Sirius is not quite like any metal album before it.

The album opens with soft whale songs in the background (more on this later) before crashing into the viciously heavy riffs of Ocean Planet which features something of a taste of what the rest of the album contains: crushing riffs laden with power chords, plenty of very tasty pinch harmonics interlaced with melodic sections before moving onto a bridge/breakdown to seriously mosh to as drummer Mario Duplantier shows off his nasty double kick skills. The next few songs continue in a similar fashion- a plethora of headbanging riffs (it has actually been scientifically proven to be impossible not to headbang or get up and throw yourself around the room to the huge finale to Backbone), some serious post-thrashy speed metal heating things up before moving into some more heartfelt material, including a very soft, slow clean instrumental song and some slow yet heavy riffs setting a more somber tone.

The album cranks it again as The Heaviest Matter of the Universe seriously lives up to its name and is probably the vicious highlight of the album replete with blast-beat laden speed riffs and an insane vocal assault, but from here the album takes a bit of a shift. While there are a few more moshy sections we begin to see a bit more clean instrumental work, clean singing and some more progressive elements to the music – all done to a high standard. World to Come is a very different type of metal song with alternating clean and heavy vocals, culminating in a slow, powerful heavy section. The album reaches what should have been its finale on its two title tracks: From Mars provides a slow and morbid introduction and just when you are settling into the soft melodies it suddenly shifts into the violent riffage of To Sirius which does not let up until the song’s screaming finale.

However, with all said and done the album is not without its flaws. To some the music may seem somewhat simplistic – there is certainly a noticeable lack of any sort of guitar solo or even a great amount of lead work. Despite the complex song arrangements, time signatures and riff construction, if you are looking for a shred-fest, you had probably best look elsewhere. Also, regarding individual songs, while the album has its obvious highs, it also has some noticeable lows. In the Wilderness comes across as rather flat and uninteresting for most of its duration and the album’s closer, while featuring some rare, yet nice, lead guitar work is also a little flat compared to some of the rest of the bombs on the album.

Alright, there is one last issue to clear up. Gojira have a pervasive environmentalist theme through their poetic lyrics, concerned with humanity’s destruction of the  natural world…often expressed through the ‘whales’ motif. Yes, Gojira sing about flying whales. And have whale songs sprinkled through the album as well. While it may be disconcerting to the average metalhead, keep listening, it’ll grow on you.

From Mars to Sirius manages to combine a balanced mix of insane heaviness with nice well-written slower sections, awesome head-banging riffs with smooth clean guitars
and powerful lyricism with, well, you know. Flying Whales.  I really hate giving a number to an album, but since I have to read this with it: This is an extremely solid album, but it does still have its detractors. It is well worth your time to check out, just don’t expect the next Ashes of the Wake.

7/10

Band: Gojira
Album: From Mars to Sirius
Year: 2005
Genre: Death/Groove/Progressive Metal
Label: Prosthetic (Worldwide), Listenable (France)
Origin: Bayonne, France
http://www.myspace.com/gojira

Track Listing:
1. Ocean Planet
2. Backbone (Reviewer’s Choice)
3. From the Sky
4. Unicorn
5. Where Dragons Dwell
6. The Heaviest Matter of the Universe
7. Flying Whales
8. In the Wilderness
9. World to Come
10. From Mars
11. To Sirius
12. Global Warming

Review written by Sam Maher.

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.