Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, a director’s filmography, or some other critical pop-culture collection. It’s exact science by way of a few beers. This time, we follow French metal masters Gojira’s career, from their 2001 debut, Terra Incognita, to their most recent effort, 2021’s Fortitude.
The ascent of Gojira is one of modern heavy metal’s greatest success stories. The French band formed in 1996 under the name Godzilla, before changing their moniker to the Japanese name for said film monster. Even as far back as their highly sought-after 1997 Possessed demo, one can hear the kinetic potency of the group’s prog-tinged style of death metal.
Somewhat rare in the realm of metal, much of the band’s core lineup has remained intact since those demo days. Joe Duplantier (singer-guitarist), his brother Mario Duplantier (drummer), and lead guitarist Christian Andreau were eventually joined by bassist Jean-Michel Labadie in 2001, forming the long-running quartet that continues to churn out albums of astounding conceptual and musical complexity.
Because the band’s lineup has remained static, we can trace a fluid evolution from Gojira’s early works up to their latest album, 2021’s Fortitude. The groove metal head-nodders of 2001 debut Terra Incognita were eventually melded into more atmospheric and majestic pieces, as showcased on the seminal 2005 effort From Mars to Sirius. The LP fused a more mature sound with worldly environmentalist themes that are even more poignant now than they were 17 years ago. Gojira followed up with two more highly regarded records, 2008’s The Way of All Flesh and 2012’s L’Enfant Sauvage, which elevated the group to an elite status in the metal scene.
The success culminated with the Duplantier brothers’ building their own Silver Cord Studio in Queens, New York. It’s here where the band worked autonomously on its next albums, Magma (2016) and the aforementioned Fortitude. While less grandiose in nature compared to, say, From Mars to Sirius, Gojira’s recent output still packs a punch, as the band wield an even tighter, more compact extreme-metal songcraft.
As Gojira prepare to (finally) embark on their twice-delayed tour with Deftones this Spring (gets tickets here), we took a look back at the French band’s seven studio albums by way of ranking them from weakest to strongest.
— Jon Hadusek,
Senior Staff Writer