As the final edits were being made on this review, a nugget of Gojira news hit the inbox to announce that their fundraising drive for The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brail (APIB), who advocate for environmental and cultural rights of indigenous tribes in the Amazon, had hit the $250,000 mark. Considering the fact that at the time the paragraph being edited involved the over-arching point being made that Gojira are spearheading the way as the most important band in heavy music at the moment we felt it necessary to shift things around and stick this fact front and centre on this piece. Presented the fact better than we originally explained!
EnvironMetalists through and through, Gojira have never shied away from often emotionally driving home pressing environmental issues, with a common theme of showcasing the absurdity of humanity's apparent constant ability to shoot itself in the foot. Lyrically and thematically the band return to this in a big way across Fortitude, at points being even more on the nose with it than they perhaps have done in the past. The previously released and very well received Amazonia, which sparked the above mentioned fundraising drive, is testament to this with the haunting "The greatest miracle, is burning to the ground" lingering in your head post-listening whether you want it to or not. Interestingly, where in the past rage has been at the core of their message, across Fortitude there is a fairly continual sense of hope and almost a call to arms at points.
The opening gambit of Born For One Thing sludges through a barrage of riffs up there with some of the very best Gojira material of years gone by before slamming in to Amazonia and Another World. Given the amount of tracks we've been treated to as part of the lead up to this record it means that for many there's a familiar feel to the scene being set which then lays a path out for Hold On which will absolutely end up as a mainstay in live sets going forward. Gojira at their anthemic and pummelling best.
As each track rattles by you'll hit that classic Gojira trance where your ears and brain become enveloped by the absolutely masterful musicianship across the board. As the midway point is reached and the ethereal, instrumental title track swings in to gear, it acts as a brilliant segue point which leads the listener in to the second part of the record. Fortitude musically runs straight in to The Chant, in practice acting as an extended intro but the commanding, emotionally charged, drive across the latter is absolutely one of the album high points. The one-two acts as a doorway connecting the sprawling sounds Gojira are now capable of - they'll absolutely hammer you harder than most bands care to dream of but they'll also insert a melodic side you might not have anticipated possible in the very early stages of their career. This is now a band so confident in their own ability they're frankly in a seemingly unstoppable purple patch.
The entire record is one high point after another but some big mentions need to go to the tracks Sphinx and the closer Grind. The first of these comes out of the block at such a level of velocity after the The Chant you'll be left almost breathless whilst the Grind presents your classic barrage that comes with a Gojira album closer - expect to see this one closing out sets as soon as they can get out on tour.
Overall then, it's not that it is exceptionally rare, but it is always very special to experience these key moments in Metal where bands not only grab the initiative but run with it in such a fashion they begin to transcend their peers and become leaders. Gojira's rise has been persistent, almost unstoppable and with the continuation of punchier, catchy, tracks without losing any of their technical, heavy, brilliance these brighter days will continue to shine. What a band. What an album.