Music Review – Gojira: Terra Incognita

Band:  Gojira
Album:  Terra Incognita
Year:  2001 – Re-released 2009

Death Metal. I consider it one of the purest and most honest forms of musical expression and technical ability out there. No other form of music comes close to the emotion, speed, and intricacy of Death Metal. While some consider the genre evil, too loud, noisy, or too complicated, most aficionados consider Death Metal the deepest and most heartfelt form of musical theory and personal expression since Mozart, Wagner, and Bach. Some of it is intricately layered, heart pounding gut chug, with barely audible, growling lyrics invoking the dark gods of the underworld. Others run dangerously close to Scandinavian Black Metal, with insanely fast, yet melodical riffs that spiral insanely out of control under heart exploding double bass kicks at 80 times per second, with vocal growls replaced by tortured screams. Still other forms of Death Metal stick relatively close to their Heavy Metal brothers, often keeping the sacred and structured metal hierarchy intact while infusing their own Death Metal nuances throughout, sort of like sprinkling a traditional beef stew with a few bags of pop rocks.

French Death Metal band Gojira’s debut album, Terra Incognita, does most of these things all at once. While not always perfect, and sometimes considered “overrated”, this album as a whole offers a glimpse into the origins of what will eventually become one of the best Death Metal bands around. Track 1, Clone, is perhaps the best on the album, and while the following tracks are very good, nothing stands out as spectacular, and left me wanting and wishing for more.

Although lead guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier branched out as Cavalera Conspiracy’s bassist from 2008 to 2010, he is back at the helm of Gojira, with a new album planned for spring, 2012.  Terra Incognita is chock full of signature Death Metal grindings, while subtly throwing down some of its broader Heavy Metal influences. Think for a second that Morbid Angel, Metallica, Sepultura, and Meshuggah all donated some of their DNA, resulting in Gojira as their bastard metal offspring, bringing the good and bad of each with it, set free into the world to conquer its own destiny. This is what I think of when I listen to Gojira. I hear 3, 4, or 5 different bands at once IN these guys, but nothing yet that empirically says, “Gojira”. The seed is planted though, and I look forward to this year’s new album. Perhaps Gojira is finally ready to stand up and make a name for themselves!

3.5 out of 5

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