Album Review: Gojira - L'enfant Sauvage

23 June 2012 | 2:37 pm | Brendan Crabb

Morbid Angel meets Strapping Young Lad wrestling Meshuggah.

Few acts have made such a gigantic statement during their first visit to our shores as Gojira. Fresh from bludgeoning us at Soundwave, they're now charged with the task of delivering an LP (their first for Roadrunner) worthy of such a reputation. The environmentally-friendly French progressive death troupe has responded to the dolphin's cry in monumental fashion.

Morbid Angel meets Strapping Young Lad wrestling Meshuggah is still the foundation and it takes mere seconds into opener Explosia to confirm their approach is still heavier than a busload of Sumo wrestlers. That opening riff is more scathing than reviews of a new Adam Sandler movie, while Mouth Of Kala packs a gargantuan-sized groove. Planned Obsolescence's scope is simply enormous and the title track's seething intensity is in the vein of 2005's monstrous masterclass From Mars To Sirius. It's not just about towering riffs, pinch harmonics, frenetic blast-beats, or in the case of closer The Fall, a punishing, psychedelic nightmare. The heaviness is underpinned by a brooding melodic sensibility, counter-punched by a pulsating ambience, robotic vocal spots and jagged polyrhythms, but all without stooping to unnecessary progressive wankery. Conversely, Liquid Fire and The Axe's hooks will catch listeners off-guard, although the majority requires a worthy investment of time to properly devour.

Gojira were already critical darlings and a cult favourite among metallers, but like Mastodon before them, L'Enfant Sauvage's marginally more accessible – yet no less impacting – nature appears set to position them as the heavy band of choice among hipsters too. Public Enemy told us don't believe the hype, but punters can make an exception here, as few metal records of 2012 will surpass this.