Gojira – Fortitude (2021)


Often when I’m writing, whether it’s a review, short story or even poetry, I can get quite critical of my own words, and begin to edit things to within an inch of their life.  Lately, I’ve been trying to take a bit more of a “done is done” approach, particularly with reviews, and hit the post button without editing and second guessing anything at all.  

The reason I bring this up, is because I’m here to talk about the latest from French maestros, Gojira.  

Fortitude is the bands seventh full length album, and at least in my opinion, their most interesting, fully formed and for lack of a better term, best album of their career.  

Now, back to my original train of thought on writing, and the reason why I bring it up… 

Does an album that is so technical and so well put together come about naturally for Gojira?  Are they really that gifted?  Or do they spend countless hours labouring over each piece, and over analysing their musical direction?  Hard to tell really.  On the one hand, it has been five years since their last record was released, so they have had plenty of time to take the initial ideas that have become Fortitude and really refine them.  

On the other hand, maybe they are just so musically gifted that the way we hear Fortitude now, is not that far removed from the earliest versions of the songs. 

Sometimes I just can’t help but ponder questions such as that… 

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter.  The end result is here, and it is stunning.  Like, really stunning.  When we arrive at the end of 2021, if this record is not in the top two of my end of year top ten list, I will be very surprised.  

Fortitude kicks in with “Born For One Thing” which is a blistering opener.  Rhythmic snare shots lead us on to a monstrous riff and a strong vocal performance.  There’s a mid verse break that settles in to a fantastic groove.  On this track though, the chorus is key.  It’s big and easy to sing along too.  Killer opener, and killer track overall. 

“Amazonia” starts off with some wonderful indigenous instrumentation and chanting.  The way they weave that among their own musical landscape is expertly handled.  This track is as catchy as can be, which I did not expect to say about anything on this record, yet here we are.  A true highlight of Fortitude, and now there’s an official video supporting Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation – great song, great cause.

Next up is “Another World”, which was the first single released, seemingly a lifetime ago.  I get mega Killing Joke vibes from this track – there’s riff a plenty and some very catchy hooks, but the spaces in between are where the really interesting stuff happens.  Every second of Another World is expertly utilised.  

“Hold On” opens with acapala vocal harmonies, accompanied by a kick drum and some percussive bells.  It’s not until two full minutes in, that the track is brought fully to life by another mammoth riff.  There is some very emotive guitar used late in the piece.  This stands out as quite different to the previous three tracks, but no less excellent.  

“New Found” is my favourite track of the record.  I love the guitars, the drumming, the vocal, the lyric – it’s perfect in every way.  In fact, it’s almost hypnotically good.  You simply will not be able to ignore New Found.  

The title track, “Fortitude” is a mild piece of music.  More of an interlude than anything.  A relatively simple guitar melody plays beneath gentle percussion, with a soft and welcoming chant on the surface.  This piece leads seemlessly in to “The Chant” which continues the same piece, before bringing in the chugging guitars and gravelly vocals.  The hypnotic chanting returns to form the chorus.  The two combined are one wonderful piece of music.  

“Sphinx” provides probably the heaviest number of the album.  It’s crushing, but not at the expense of groove.  Thoughtful and well written lyrics help bring this to completion.  

“Into the Storm” starts with airy elements, but soon becomes a very busy cacophony.  It settles nicely into a chugging riff, and the vocals are welcomed to our ears with a mighty “Go!” Which I am a massive sucker for.  Another excellent track from the French titans of metal.  

As we descend into the tail end of the record, “The Trails” adds a little breathing room.  Somewhat more scaled back as far as the heaviness is concerned, but certainly not out of place, and bolstered by some eerie whispered vocal techniques.  

Final song is “Grind” and it seems to tie the entire album together, while being its own song at the same time.  The crunch is back in full here, plus there’s some killer growls.  

To bring it all back around to my original train of thought – who cares whether it came naturally, or whether they laboured over these compositions – the end result is fucking exceptional!

10/10

Shayne McGowan

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