All hail the mighty Gojira!
This band kicks serious ass. No, really. They do. Gojira is a heavy metal band from France that was founded in 1996 (changed their name from Godzilla to Gojira in 2001). They meld together a lot of different styles of metal music to create a truly awesome soundscape of heaviness that generally pummels you into obedience. Their latest album, Magma, was released on June 17th and it has been in my main rotation ever since that day. You want proof that this album is good? Ask Nancy about it. Even she digs it and she was was/is an ardent hater of anything else the band has done.
To me, Gojira has always felt very “french” and this is definitely NOT a bad thing. Everything I’ve seen and heard from them always felt a bit artsy and more sophisticated. I’m not sure why that speaks to me as “french” per se, but that’s just the stereotypical image that springs to mind. That artistic mindset that they may or may not be in is certainly helpful with their music. The imagery they create helps to further the music and lyrics in ways a lot of bands could learn from. Gojira is really a total package kind of band. No jamming out to singles. It’s all about the album, the flow and the feeling. Magma doesn’t fall short on any of this.
I could go into the story behind the album but I will spare you of all that. It’s interesting to know about and it all certainly relates to the imagery and audio that is presented but I don’t feel like I would do any of the story justice. If you want a quick brush-up on the background of Magma then go here: Magma on Wikipedia or here: Joe Duplantier Talks Magma Album on Loudwire. There is also a really well-written cover story in the August 2016 issue of Decibel Magazine. For now though, I’ll just stick to the art and design.
The cover is another great piece of art by Hibiki Miyazaki. The work this guy pulls out is pretty fantastic. I love the style he used here and how he incorporates smooth, flowing curves with sharp, pointed waves. Pretty neat contrast going on there. I also like how there is no band logo or album name on the cover. There was a sticker on the shrink wrap that had both of those elements and I’m glad that’s only where it appeared. It keeps the focus on the art and the mood it helps to create.
The typeface chosen for this album is a Helvetica of some sort. It’s simple and effective. I miss the illustrative writing I associate with Gojira but it’s a welcome change in this case.
The back of the jacket is a continuation of the front. Big waves, big sky, simple text. No frills to get lost in with this one.
The insert takes both a similar approach with the design. The lyrics are laid out in a 3-column format in the same font that the rest of the package is created with. The flowing smoke illustration from the front of the jacket makes an appearance here in the form of a muted background for the lyrics.
The side with the liner notes has the ever-present band photo and the production credits. The photo is pretty slick. It appears to be a photo from one of the video shoots for the album (“Stranded”) and then some wild light/dust/paint effects were added. Lots of emotion. Lots of energy. That is what Gojira is all about.
There was also a download card included with the record. It’s just a one-sided BW printout with a code that appears in the white box. It’s really no different than the rest of the packaging but I do like how they used just the bottom half of the sun illustration. It’s a nice touch and helps it to relate to the overall design. The large hype sticker is what appeared on the shrink wrap the album came packaged in. I often cut out the hype stickers if they are large or graphically appealing.
The vinyl is the last piece to the puzzle. Look at that gold! What a beauty. I happened to buy one of the limited edition versions of the album and they all came with a gold-colored vinyl. It’s nice but I wish it were a bitchin’ metallic light blue/silver. Just to help tie the whole package in together. Whatever though. This gold is killer looking and it’s a nice contrast to the rest of the package.
This is a solid album from the first note to the last. If you haven’t yet gotten on the Gojira bandwagon then this would be the album to start with. It’s easily their most “accessible” set of songs but it doesn’t lack any of the quality that Gojira is known for. The Way Of All Flesh may still be my favorite album of theirs but Magma will definitely rank right behind it if I’m ever asked. I really enjoyed the “singing” across the album and hope that they continue to use some of these slower and shorter song formats in the albums to come.
The song “Stranded” was my first introduction to this album. It made me kind of anxious and uncomfortable the first time that I heard it. Not because of any subject matter or lyric content but because of the overall pulse of the song. I was very used to their faster music and I just kept waiting for it to come in. I just wasn’t expecting this. To me, that is a total success for them. Always keep the fans guessing.