Gojira - _The Way of All Flesh_
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
One of the fasting rising stars in the metal firmament, Gojira have spent the past seven years recording material designed to cull the finest elements of death, metalcore, jazzy prog and explosive art rock, gathering in new legions of fans through constant touring with some of the most prominent extreme bands. _The Way of All Flesh_ stands as their most accessible effort yet, lyrics centering around musings on mortality while in all irony distancing themselves from the band's death metal roots.Hardly a sellout, however, the album finds Gojira adding to their arsenal of tricks by incorporating -more- musical elements; but yes, by necessity these new explorations -- shouted, industrial-like vox, more subdued rhythms, etc. -- mandate that certain balls to the wall characteristics, while still rising occasionally to the surface, are not quite as ubiquitous as they may have been in the past. Ultimately what Gojira have done is focus more on song craft, allowing catchy riffs and artfully choreographed technicality to co-exist -- Lamb of God, whose Randy Blythe appears / co-writes on the epic "Adoration for None", seem to have provided a noticeable blueprint in their insistent on crafting memorable hooks rather than relying on sheer, crushing velocity and abrasive textures to get the job done.Nonetheless, the elastic, circular riff of the aptly titled "Ouroburos" is entirely Gojira through and through, a ridiculously engaging dual guitar lock groove serving notice that in spite of the deadly serious lyrical mater, _TWoAF_ is going to offer up its fair share of "body" music. "A Sight to Behold" similarly fulfills this role, an uncharacteristic, Wax Trax-era throw back that would be at home amongst late '90s ensembles such as Sister Machine Gun and Gravity Kills. Ditto "Vacuity".Elsewhere, the quartet prove they can still rock the death riff, as on the early Earache nod "All the Tears" or the Morbid Angel stylings of the final two tracks. "Adoration for None", with its slashing guitar and aforementioned Randy Blythe appearance, is essentially paint-by-numbers metalcore, unfortunately... well performed and propulsive, but sacrificing inventiveness for a risk free stab at establishing a mosh pit staple for their live shows. At seven minutes, the track could have also shaved off a good 90 seconds and been a lot tighter for it. Instead, running back to back with the -ten- minute "The Art of Dying", it contributes immensely to a momentum stunting sense of mid-album bloat. The latter, a tribal stomp that at times evokes Sepultura before gradually slipping into the emo-ish side of metalcore, gives the listener plenty of time to begin wondering if Gojira aren't aspiring to be the world's greatest metal jukebox instead of a pioneering act a la the influences they wear so proudly -- Opeth, Meshuggah, and yes, even Lamb of God.In the end, _TWoAF_, for whatever experimental will power it may lack, is simply too well assembled and monumental to fault too deeply. Mario Duplantier's clean technicality is scaled to fit the piece, whether weaving rapidly in and out of complex time signatures or merely providing adept fills beneath a steady back beat. Brother Joseph Duplantier wears a number of vocal masks, giving spice and diversity to a long, challenging platter, none of which constitute the weepy / clean chorus which has become such a cliché compromise between brutality and mainstream respectability. Metalcore comparisons or no, this is definitely no Killswitch Engage.
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