Fortitude, the new album by French progressive, technical heavy metal band Gojira, maintains the band’s signature exploration of environmental and existential themes alongside shredding and impressive melodies courtesy of Joe Duplantier and Christian Andreu.
The album, the band’s seventh and the first since critically acclaimed Magma, opens on lead single “Born For One Thing,” with zapping guitar licks and a low, steady bass. Duplantier examines the innate human fear of death, contrasted with the expectation to overcome the fear and the inevitability of facing it. It’s followed by the deep, bass-heavy groove and rumbling melody of “Amazonia,” the second single that raised cash for Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil, an organization protecting the environmental and cultural rights of the native tribes in Brazil’s Amazon region.
The lyrics evoke the impending ecological collapse as a result of climate change and deforestation from the hands of humanity, and how in turn this destruction only serves to destroy humanity in the end. “Another goldmine is unveiled/ The source of our sorrow/ Learn/ Embedded in these walls of green/ Is the curse that we follow,” Duplantier sings.
“Another World” continues to build on the themes of ecological collapse, with an ironic observation of how humanity is looking for other hospitable planets as either a source to escape our dying world, or to harvest for further resources—all while Duplantier sings longingly to escape to a world far less bleak. The track opens with guitar blasts, sustained power chords and a rapidly scaling secondary melody.
The album begins to introduce some quasi-religious ideas on “Hold On,” a sort of cry to hold on to faith in the face of unlikely odds to overcome disaster. The choral vocals paired with synthetic organ and thumping kick drum establishes a strict uniformity that’s broken by the subsequent rapid, galloping electric guitar pickup. “New Found” uses these slick riffs —like a pick being dragged up and down the strings—that are reminiscent of late ’90s or early 2000s metal acts with an impressive runtime of six and a half minutes.
The title track, by contrast, is fairly short. It leads into “The Chant,” further evoking the spiritual themes present on the album, with light electric guitar strums paired with tambourine and cowbell, a muffled choir of tremolo vocals pulsing in the background. “The Chant” has a stone-cold rocking groove as the guitars growl throughout before warbling into an outro.
“Into The Storm” takes a calmer, more ambient approach to open with quick drumming and warping guitar tones match the speed. The song is a call to action against the abuses of those in power, which, while nonspecific, could be seen as an expression of solidarity with France’s Yellow Vests Movement demanding economic equality through higher wages, improved standards of living and government transparency.
Fortitude meets the standard of quality many have come to expect from Gojira. The band continues to incorporate its artistry and activism in ways that convey complex thoughts on environmentalism with mind-blowing riffs, shredding and increasingly incredible melodies.
Follow editor Tim Hoffman at Twitter.com/hipsterp0tamus.