Gojira are a band well-known for their ability to move with the times and adapt to an ever-changing musical landscape in terms of experience and direction. It should come as no shock that their sixth studio album Magma is, somewhat ironically, no different when held against that trend.
With the teasing and subtle shift in sound, the two singles released prior to the album gave us a taste of what was to come. Both had that familiarity we’ve come to expect from Gojira, but also a new, more rounded and radio-friendly sound to them. It did, in fact, indicate that Gojira were yet again shifting their heading by a few degrees and experimenting with something a little more subdued when held up in comparison against the likes of two of my favourite albums to this day – The Way of All Flesh and L’Enfant Sauvage – which are respectively eight and four years old as I write this.
The hype building around this album’s release was tangible on music news websites and in conversations between fans on message boards. Will this be another bold move away from those earlier days of face-melting metal? Will we receive and album worthy of the reputation Gojira have been working tirelessly for fifteen years to achieve? In all honesty, they have answered one but not the other. With a very similar, but at times muted, sound to previous releases we haven’t seen a massive shift in output in Magma. However, Gojira have delivered another masterpiece.
Fresh from their set on the Maverick Stage at Download Festival last weekend (where they were absolutely tremendous), they didn’t leave their UK fans waiting too long to unleash the full ferocity of ‘Magma’ upon them. Somewhat weirdly streaming the album in full two days early through the Independent News website, allowed fans to get a try-before-you-buy taste of what they were looking forward to for the past few months.
What was offered was something of a beast. Building on top of the aforementioned singles with tracks like ‘Low Lands’ and ‘Only Pain’, which have that recognisable thunder-squeal riffing and frantic drum combo. Showing a bit of a stoner-rock influence with filler track ‘Yellow Stone’ which serves to give you a break from the quickening pace offered by ‘The Cell’. Title track ‘Magma’ is a trippy number with a cool machine gun riff that nods along at an easy pace with a chorus-effect vocal gliding over the top.
Magma isn’t all winner and they miss out on 10/10 status by a slight margin. Final track on the album ‘liberation’ feels like an afterthought. Completely removed from everything else on display, we are “treated” to something of an acoustic rambling to close what is a fine album. A disappointing end to what is still an epic album.