GOJIRA – From an Underground Beast to the Very Top of the Metal World

Written by Jadranka Balaš

In the age of hyper production, absolute transparency, overcrowding, the age when everyone is a critic and when it’s almost impossible to please everyone, it’s hard to be a band. A successful band. A real band in every sense of the word. Bands with a strong attitude, a clear message, and an uncompromising performance are really rare. One of those who managed to satisfy the fine taste of older fans and give younger ones an intelligent, modern metal sound come from France, their name is GOJIRA, and they are ready to climb to the top of the metal world. Where they belong.


Gojira lineup 2017

Everything started in 1996 in a garage in the southwest France, in a small town of Bayonne, where brothers Duplantier, Joe (vocals, guitars) and Mario (drums) founded a band with two friends, Christian Andreu (lead guitar) and Alexandre Cornillon (bass). Hiding behind the name GODZILLA, after the well-known monster of the Japanese cinema, they released four demos “Victim” (1996), “Possessed” (1997), “Saturate” (1999) and “Wisdom Comes” (2000) and began their reign in the underground. Shortly before the release of the first album, due to copyright, they had to change the name of the band to Gojira, and at that time, Jean-Michel Labadie joined them, which was the first and last change in the band’s lineup, which remained the same to this day.

Under the new name and with a new lineup they independently released the first album “Terra Incognita” in 2001. Jean-Michel did not only introduce himself as the new bassist of the band but also posed for the album cover. The first album was just the first indication of what a giant Gojira would become in the years to come, after years of hard work and the struggle for survival and the launch from the anonymity of the metal underground.

From the very beginning, the music played by Gojira has been very hard to put in one genre, since various elements of death, thrash, groove, progressive metal can be heard. Perhaps the most accurate and best description is simply metal. Because that’s what it is, and it’s more than enough. The best option would certainly be to let the music speak for itself, without assigning any tags. As one of the most extreme and fiercest bands that France has so far produced, their sound evolves from album to album, with a clear attitude and even clearer message. Partially faithful to the hippie movement, but with the mentality of the modern age, they soon became known as the protectors of the planet Earth.

Joe Duplantier, Gojira

The year 2003 brought the second studio album “The Link” and documented the success they achieved after the release of the first two albums on the first DVD release symbolically called “The Link Alive”, which was released the following year. This enabled the first contract with the French publisher Listenable Records, which also stood behind their next release.

“From Mars To Sirius” (2005) attracted great attention, not only in the heavy metal community but also in the intellectual world, because it dealt with a thoughtful and profound examination of the world and the consequences that human behavior has on nature. This concept does not only deal with the resurrection of the planet, problems of nature but it also deals with life, death, and rebirth. The metal world was amused and amazed, for a long time we hadn’t seen such an intelligent but powerful heavy metal release that at the same time was as expansive and opened to new aspects as it was concise.

The third album brought another contract, this time with Prosthetic Records, a publisher that represented them in North America. Positive reviews led to the first tour across the Atlantic where Gojira performed with bands such as Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, Behemoth. Gojira started to build a name for themselves in the world of extreme metal, in that time with a special emphasis on the powerful live performances that did not leave the audience indifferent.

After two years of touring, in early 2008, Gojira returned to the studio. After nearly 10 months, “The Way Of All Flesh” finally seen the light of the day, as one of the most anticipated albums of the year. After raising ecological awareness on “From Mars To Sirius”, this time the band turned to mortality, but not giving up on its goal, so “The Way Of All Flesh” can be seen as a requiem for the planet Earth. Progressiveness they became known for, in combination with heavy rhythms, Gojira presented themselves as an equally intelligent force with unmistakable fierceness.

“The Way Of All Flesh” did not allow the band to just share the stage with the biggest, Metallica, but they also signed for a major publisher, Roadrunner Records, who released their next album. “L’Enfant Sauvage” was released in 2012. The metal world was waiting for that release with even greater impatience. What “Wild Child” gave us is a spiritual journey inspired by Joe‘s obsession with the human soul and the eternal question of whether we are more than just blood and flesh. Already well-known mixture of heaviness, innovation in writing, poetry at the highest level, originality with an increased dose of drama and emotion once again raised metal to a new, higher level of brilliance.

At the end of 2014, Duplantier brothers began building their own studio in New York. “Silver Cord Studio” was completed in the spring of 2015 and the band was finally able to start work on the new album. A few days later, the brothers learned that their mother was severely ill, and soon she died. This family tragedy postponed recording but also changed the course of the sixth studio album.

“Magma” brought darkness and pain. The most accessible and most emotional, and therefore the most powerful band release so far. The melodies and clean vocals attracted attention and faced the disapproval of many fans at the beginning, but the unmistakable Gojira sound and the time it took to master this masterpiece and understand it did their own. “Magma” is a new dimension and it is intended to operate at some other level. There is nothing in the metal world like this album.

Metal Hammer magazine named it the album of the year in 2016, and it was also on the list of almost all relevant rock and metal magazines and portals around the globe. “Magma” also brought the band something they did not expect even in their dreams, the first Grammy nominations. Singl “Silvera” was nominated for Best Metal Performance, while the album took the nomination for the Rock album of the year. No, they did not take any trophies home. But it does not matter. The vast majority of you probably share the view that the Grammy award ceremony is a charade and that metal bands should be above it. They are. And you’re right. But from the perspective of the band that is yet to dominate the world, this is a huge thing. Now everyone knows who Gojira is.  And if just one kid anywhere in the world after this clicks to listen to what Gojira have to say and falls in love, as I did many years ago, then that will be a reward more worth than any gold-plated trophy that would collect dust on the shelf.

“Magma” is heavier and more valuable, musically and emotionally, than any album found on this ceremony or any list currently. Gojira is a band that has been long waited for in the metal world. It’s here. One of the best the scene has to offer at the moment. The band that is yet to be written and talked about. The revolution is already happening, take a step until it completely explodes and crushes everything in front of you. Gojira is a metal band of the future.

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