For my first full length post in this music blog, I figured I’d share my favorite album of all time with everyone: Gojira’s “The Way Of All Flesh”. Forming in 1996 and hailing from the small town of Bayonne in southwestern France, Gojira is a groovy progressive death metal act with ferocity and originality. Their name was originally “Godzilla”, but the band was forced to change it due to copyright violations. So they choose to use the original Japanese name for the nuclear age sea monster. But before I dive in too far, I’m going to take a few sentences and explain what the heck that means for the sake of readers unfamiliar with this sort of music. That complex genre tag I gave Gojira (which could be expanded to include art rock and technical death metal) simply means that Gojira is a death metal band that takes influence from progressive rock bands, such as Yes, King Crimson, and Rush, while incorporating a strong groove element in most of their songs. This leads to incredibly complex rhythms (very exciting for me to nerd out over as a drummer), aggressive note choice, and long form structure in their music. They even add a few ambient and ethereal interludes to seal the deal. Gojira’s music is quite complex and rich, taking more than a few listens to get a grasp on what they’re trying to convey. Definitely not a band for the casual music listener. With their fresh take on the genre and need to experiment and evolve their sound, Gojira has become one of the world’s most premiere progressive death metal acts.
But enough backstory, let’s get to “The Way Of All Flesh” and why it’s my favorite album of all time.
Simply put, this album sums up my musical tastes just about perfectly. All they needed to do was throw in some hip hop and alternative and I’d have my entire musical palate condensed into one 75 minute slab of perfection. But as that probably wouldn’t mix together too well, I’m happy they mostly stuck to metal. After all metal is my favorite genre of music, and Gojira really bring it to its peak with this effort. The music is very well written and the production is flawless. The drums are pummeling, the guitars are driving, the bass is so fat that it’ll need a triple bypass in a year or two, and the vocals are the cherry on top, ripping a hole through the wall of sound to fit in the mix and providing meaning with the lyrics.
The title track is my favorite song on the album, lyrically and musically.
You may have guessed it, but this album is about death (the path all living things take) and the cycle of life. The lyrics cover topics ranging from the final moments a person experiences, polluting the Earth and global warming (Gojira take on an environmentally conscious message a lot of the time, even supporting a charity for ending whaling and writing a song called ‘Global Warming’, http://tinyurl.com/q576x64), the body’s ability to heal itself, reincarnation, and much more. I really appreciate an album with great lyrics as they make the entire experience more fulfilling for me. I not only want to be destroyed by guitar riffs, I also want to read along with the lyrics and perhaps even learn something from my death metal.
This album is also quite varied in the amount of styles the band incorporates in these songs. The most obvious example of this is the song “A Sight To Behold” which makes excellent use of a synthesizer for the melody and a vocoder (a sort of synth for vocals) in the verses. I’ve never heard a death metal band get this catchy and infectious before, but Gojira hits a homerun on this track and opening the minds of it’s listeners.
One last note before I wrap up this inaugural blog post of mine: Gojira’s drummer, Mario Duplanter, is my favorite drummer and has influenced my own playing in countless ways. I’m just going to leave a link to the song “The Art Of Dying” here and you’ll be able to hear for yourself.