Mar 312016

Gojira 2016-photo by Travis Shinn
photo credit: Travis Shinn

When names as big as Gojira and Katatonia both release new music on the same day, if you wait more than a few hours to write about it, the odds are that almost everyone who cares about those bands has already been clued in by someone else. But I’m writing about these developments anyway because “Half-Assed” is my middle name and I feel compelled to live up to it. And I’ll throw in a few other new developments that have been somewhat less pervasively recognized across the web.


As I read Rolling Stone’s interview/listening-session (here) with the Duplantier brothers that appeared yesterday, I became increasingly uneasy. Reading Kory Grow’s descriptions of some of the songs from Gojira’s forthcoming new album that he heard while talking with the brothers in their New York City studio made me fear that Gojira have become a French variant of Mastodon, making a big sweeping turn into radio-friendly rock. Will their first video for the album include twerking?

I mean, the fact that the brothers chose Rolling Stone as the platform for this big album preview was itself worrisome, though we do get such valuable insights as the fact that Joe Duplantier “has long brown hair” and Mario “wears a hat and seems generally more reserved”. Even potentially more worrisome was the statement that “the band has taken a different route with the album compared to past riff-fests”, coupled with references to “almost-industrial rhythm[s]”, “brittle guitar line[s]”, “almost gothier riff[s]”, “Joe singing a monk-like chant”, “Joe sing[ing], again not screaming”, “sorrowful, gothy vocals”, flutes and cowbells, and lots of four-minute songs because “people’s attentions are shorter now” (Joe’s words). In the final paragraph, Grow writes, “they’re eager to show a different side of themselves on the new record and see how their fans react to it”.

After all that, about a group one of our former writers proclaimed almost six years ago “the best metal band in the world” (in a post that is even today the fourth most-viewed thing we’ve ever published), I was feeling a lot less eager to hear the music than the brothers are to share it.

And then I heard the 70 seconds of new music that accompanied this generally disturbing write-up, and my worries eased — they’re not erased, but eased. What do you think?








Katatonia 2016


Yesterday Katatonia revealed a lyric video for the first single from their new album The Fall of Hearts, which is coming out on May 20 via Peaceville. The song is called “Old Heart Falls”. Of course, it’s an exception to our “Rule”. The video is cleverly done, and the song… is a Katatonia song. It took one listen for it to get stuck in my head.








Goatchrist-Pathei Mathos


I must admit that although I did kind of get into that Katatonia song, I felt in need of something nastier as a follow-up… something from a band named GOATCHRIST.

I learned of this band and this next song (“Xeper”) because it’s the opening track on a free compilation named Hammer Smashed Faith III, released just days ago via Bandcamp by Blackened Death Records. There are 13 bands on this comp, some of whom I’ve heard of before. So why did I pick this one as a way of cleansing my palette after Katatonia? Because it was the first song on the comp. Also, GOATCHRIST.

The band in question is the alter ego of an English multi-instrumental musician named Dominator Xul’Ahabra. According to Metal-Archives, Goatchrist has released two demos, four singles, and an EP since 2014. But this particular song, “Xeper”, appears to be a track from a forthcoming debut album named Pathei Mathos, on which Dominator is joined by collaborators on vocals (Lord Mordor, of the US black metal band Sol Evil) and bass (Angmaer, from Wolverhampton, UK).

Based on the band’s name, I was expecting raw, bestial black metal — which was kind of what I was in the mood for — but “Xeper” delivered something much more interesting. The opening riff is an immediate grabber, and the song doesn’t lose its grip after it starts rumbling ahead. The track includes alternating segments of pulsating rhythm and wisps of infernal keyboard melody that made me think of a hellish carnival. It also includes a fuzzy, psychedelic guitar solo that comes across like a throwback to the late ’60s or early ’70s (even more so than the song as a whole), plus a surprising (and very good) burst of clean singing to go along with the nasty croaking. Very cool occult rock… and very addictive.

I’ve embedded the full stream of the Hammer Smashed Faith III comp below. I haven’t listened to all the songs yet, but I did randomly pick the tracks by Thy Demise and Necrolytic Goat Converter, and those are two winners, so I think it will be worth running through the rest.



  1. I would say that the softer parts of L’enfant Sauvage would show that Gojira can get away with singing and lighter sounds and still make a pretty crazy good record. Based on the other comments in that Rolling Stone article, it sounds like the author isn’t terribly familiar with heavy music in general and that this might be one of their first introductions to Gojira (although he does reference From Mars To Sirius, so maybe my gut feeling is wrong here.)

    The clips they’ve released so far have still sounded like good ol’ Gojira, hence my lack of worries. Besides, Gojira has already released five devastatingly heavy albums, so if they want to do something different, I have faith that they can still pull it off (unlike Mastodon, who handled their transition out of heavier music poorly.)

    • They are so talented that I’m optimistic, like you are, that whatever they do, it’s going to be good, even if it’s different. But it’s still going to be a tough blow if they move too far away from the elements of their sound that have really defined them. I don’t mean that in some critical sense… just speaking selfishly. 🙂

  2. The Gojira clip is simply too little and too low quality to make any kind of judgement. It sounds kind of neat, but it’s so little to go on. I think I will always be excited about a Gojira release, the way I’m always excited about a Mastodon or Opeth release, even though they both stopped being the bands that made me love them years ago now.

    I really kind of despised Joe’s scream-singing on L’enfant Sauvage. Not particularly heavy, not particularly melodic. Just kind of in the middle and bland. If they’re not going back to full on growls, and I don’t expect they will, then more melodic, gothier vocals may be a preferable path to more of that half-singing stuff from the last record. For my taste, anyway.

  3. Though I’m a big fan of L’enfant Sauvage, I think another record in the vein of that one and its predecessor would feel a bit rehashed. I’m excited to see where this new one goes, and the teaser has me optimistic. Also, am I the only one that likes the last few Mastodon records here?

    • No, you are not. I don’t know why they get shit on like they do. They didn’t pull an Opeth ffs.

      • I liked their recent albums, though not nearly as much as the ones that came before. But like it or not, my only point was that they have definitely moved their music in a direction that’s more appealing to broader audiences than it was before.

        • Certainly a fair point. I still prefer Mastodon’s earlier work, though I’ve come to enjoy their newer stuff more over the years as my tastes have evolved. I guess I tend to assume that, within metal circles, moving to a sound with broader appeal brings ire and distaste.

  4. My biggest fear is not a “Gojira-gone-Mastodon”, I still like the last Mastodon record, it’s a “Gojira-gone-Black Album”. Trying different instruments, styles, and whatnot as a means of artistic expression is one thing, but if they’ve softened simply to go for the mainstream money I’ll surely feel as kicked in the stomach and betrayed as my 13 year-old self was the first time i heard “Unforgiven” in 1991. I mean, no fucking joke here, I cried. It’s difficult to tell from the 70 second clip what’s going on. For all we know that could simply be them warming up or fucking around.

    Also, any comparison to Opeth in this regard is unfair. Mikael and co didn’t decide to incorporate a ’70s prog vibe for commercial reasons.

    • It’s definitely too soon to be drawing conclusions about what Gojira are up to, and they’ve always been so independent-minded about everything they’ve done that I’m remaining hopeful. But that comment about having lots of four-minute songs because people’s attention spans are shorter now is disturbing. What people is he talking about? Certainly not the band’s long-time fans… or even the people who jumped on board with L’Enfant Sauvage (half the songs on even that album were in the 5-6 minute range). So I wonder what new attention-challenged fandom they are trying to appeal to?

      • I agree it is too soon to form a solid opinion, I just hope my worst fears aren’t realized here. (well, worst fears as pertains to music… being eaten alive by sharks is still number one on my list) I remain cautiously optimistic. I did once hear Joe Duplantier say in an interview that he felt the art of writing albums was a dying one. Perhaps this lines up with what he said in the Rolling Stone article. It was Rock Sverige, who always get some pretty good interviews. Link to it on youtube:

  5. I am not sure why, but the entire new Katatonia album is available on Apple Music. It is not available on iTunes, just their steaming app if anyone wants to check it out. I’m listening now!

  6. Deafheaven? That’s laughable! Gorguts… etc… etc…

    Anyway, I wouldn’t put too much stock in what Rolling Stone have to say. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but their whole writing and editorial style seems catered towards a certain readership/demographic who like to consider themselves as “cool tastemakers”… usually of the “I’m so broad-minded, I like everything” type… but who can’t be bothered to put the effort in to discover any “new” bands until they’ve sold enough albums.

    Thus you have columns like this which, while tacitly acknowledging the band’s previous albums, essentially makes the point that now they’re a big enough deal to bother with, so YOU, the lucky reader, can tell all your musically challenged friends about how you’ve “discovered this awesome new band”… and look good doing it!

    I think I’ve also said before that Gojira really do need to step outside of their comfort zone a little on this next album, as they really need to avoid repeating themselves. Plus the best material on Angry Toddler was the stuff that stretched a little beyond their usual remit. So I’m not TOO worried about things (yet).

    • A harsh judgment about Rolling Stone — but I have to say I agree with you. This article certainly fits the pattern, and it’s not because the writer is himself a tyro to heavy music (quite the opposite).

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