(Andy Synn has music recommendations for Gojira fans . . .)
So with this being unofficial Gojira week here at NCS, I thought I’d try and continue the theme a bit, while also branching off in my own direction.
What you’ll find here are five bands, some of whom we’ve covered before, who I think will appeal to a good number of you Gojira fans out there, for a variety of reasons.
Now I’m not trying to say any of them is better than the French eco-behemoths, nor am I trying to replace them in your affections. Instead this column exists for two reasons:
1. I know that Gojira are one of those bands who captivate even the most casual of metal fans. I know several people myself who aren’t obsessive metal-explorers like myself and instead have a much more varied taste in music, but who nevertheless carry a pretty impressive torch for the band. So for these people I wanted to bring some attention to other bands who might suit them, who they might otherwise not have time to investigate for themselves.
2. I also know that many of us (myself included) have a real appreciation for Gojira, but don’t LOVE them unconditionally, as many do. Now while that does make me the perfect (cough…) candidate to critically appraise the band from a pretty objective standpoint – hence why you might find find my reviews a little more critical, in some ways at least, than others – it also makes me feel like I’m missing something. I know exactly how good the band are, and there are songs I do love, even albums, but for some reason the band and I are just not getting to the stage where I can put a ring on it. SO for those like me who “get” Gojira, but don’t “GET” Gojira as much as others, here are a few alternatives that might just fill that empty hole.
French progressive metal that could give Gojira a real run for their money given the chance, Hacride clearly take a bit more from Tool and the proggy side of music than the death metal roots that underpin their countrymen. Both the similarities and the differences between the two are equally as strong, which I understand might be contradictory, but give the track a listen and you’ll understand why they’re an almost perfect alternative.
This is “Act of God” off their last album Lazarus.
Sadly unappreciated, Sweden’s Burst were a masterful mix of progressive song-writing, post-metal dynamics, and crushing metallic hardcore. They’re a fair bit different from Gojira, I’ll grant you, but they have a similar mastery of making catchy songs that are actually incredibly challenging, with layers upon layers of depth. There’s a touch of Mastodon/Baroness to them as well, but overall I prefer Burst to either.
Coming off their album Origo, the track “Homebound” is a great mix of dinosaur-heavy grooves and anguished melodic touches.
Benea Reach make use of the same sort of juddering, earth-shaking guitar tone that Gojira have made part of their sound, as well as taking a similar plethora of influences from Meshuggah and Cult of Luna, but without sounding exactly like anyone else. Their songs and albums are constructed in a similarly flowing, free-form manner to the French goliaths, with a penchant for instrumental interludes, atmospheric ambience and nagging, insistent choruses scattered amongst the devastating heaviness.
Try “Zenith” on for size (from Alleviat, one of my all-time favourite albums).
CULT OF LUNA
I can’t mention either of the previous two bands without returning to the source, as it were, by referencing Cult of Luna. The DNA of their atmospheric post-sludge sound (and I’m talking about the European form of Sludge, which is a colder, more ambient form, different from the swampy, viscous type put out by the USA) is definitely present in Gojira’s genetic make-up, along with the rest of the bands mentioned thus far, and rightly so. They’re a band who manage to crush the listener with just as much emotional weight as they do musical heaviness.
Here’s the utterly unforgiving “Curse” off their most recent album Eternal Kingdom.
OCEANS OF SADNESS
I’ve saved this one until last as it’s a heck of a lot more melodic than the rest, yet there’s a sense of adventure and a brilliantly realised character that meshes well with the Gojira listening experience, despite the obvious musical differences. That’s not to say there aren’t similarities though, as frontman Tijs Vanneste has a similarly gravelly bellow, and when the band kick in with their heavy, twisty-turny rhythms, you’ll find your head nodding along unconsciously whether you know it or not!
Check out the slanty, progressive “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy” off their last ever album The Arrogance of Ignorance.