Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records 2021)

In their twentieth year as a metal band Gojira issues their seventh full-length studio album and it is one of the very best.

Gojira is from France and they play heavy metal. The music has groove and progressive elements to it, and you do not mistake Gojira for another band when you hear their music. Magma (2016) is the most recent album up to now, and while they have been quiet on the recording front since it came out they have been playing live and dazzling fans continuously. The band is Jean-Michel Labadie (bass), Mario Duplantier (drums), Christian Andreu (guitars), Joe Duplantier (guitar and vocals).

There are eleven tracks on the album, beginning with “Born For One Thing.” The drum lays in a march cadence while the guitar wind-up does not prepare you for the metal when it kicks in a few seconds later. The composition is heavy and complex, syncopated and variegated, groovy and mysterious – all these things at once. “Amazonia” comes up next, with its subtle slither and shimmer. Its every element is mesmerizing, like an shamanic chant. The narrative is compelling and delivered with authority.

The songs on Fortitude are big and ambitious. Some are delivered on a softer register throughout, like “Another World” and others demonstrate an incredible range from peace to aggression, as in “Hold On.” Progressive influences live in and amongst the growling metal. And then there is the title track, which is a short reflective piece that transitions into “The Chant,” a song that builds into a powerful statement before handing off the torch to “The Sphinx” with its heavy and sinister posture. This set wraps on “Grind” featuring punishing percussion, whispering vocal savagery, and stabbing, whirling guitars.

I was expecting something big from Gojira on this new album. What they have done is even more than I expected. We are all going to be reading about how this album is setting a standard others will be compared to and let me add my voice to that chorus. I am sure Fortitude will be on the 2021 Best Of list. Highly recommended.

Fortitude is out now. Hit the website link below to investigate the options.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, Aftershock Festival 2019.


Website, https://www.gojira-music.com/?frontpage=true

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GojiraMusic

Roadrunner Records, https://store.roadrunnerrecords.com/gojira.html

Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records 2021)

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The new Soilwork EP is Long Play in length and grand in stature.

I jumped onto the Soilwork bandwagon with Sworn To A Great Divide in 2007, and that was their seventh full-length album so I started out way behind the curve. Discovering the rest of their music over the years by hearing the subsequent new releases while simultaneously going through the back catalogue was a journey and a quest. Melodic Death Metal segue to Metalcore and Groove, the music was always full bodied and finished with precision.

The new EP is 38 minutes long with an epic opening song that runs nearly half that total length. Soilwork has produced some long songs, but nothing like this. And significantly, there is a lot of story here, which makes sense given the nature of the construction. The band for A Whisp Of The Atlantic is Bjorn Strid (vocals), David Andersson (guitar), Sylvain Coudret (guitar), Sven Karlsson (keys, samples), and Bastian Thusgaard (drums).

Andersson tells us that each songs has an underlying core, “From the desire of ‘Feverish,’ the urge of ‘Desperado,’ the determinism of ‘Death Diviner,’ the insights and questions of ‘The Nothingness and the Devil’ and the acceptance and spiritual searching of ‘A Whisp of the Atlantic.’” The centerpiece title song is a complicated composition ranging over a broad spectrum of music and feeling in its seventeen minutes. It does not stand alone on the album, but it could, in my estimation. It is theatrical and cinematic, by which I mean the presentation of the story through the music exists on the large broad scale and also on a close, intimate one. It is hard to imagine that a band with legendary status like Soilwork would continue to innovate to this degree and post such a milestone so far along their path, but here they have done it. Recommended.

December 4th is the drop date for A Whisp Of The Atlantic. It is an essential element in the Soilwork canon.

Band photo by Stephansdotter Photography.


Soilwork website, https://www.soilwork.org/

Soilwork Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soilwork/

Nuclear Blast, https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/label/music/band/discography/details/6963921.70960.a-whisp-of-the-atlantic-ep.html

Soilwork, A Whisp Of The Atlantic review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio review (Tee Pee Records 2020)

The New Jersey groove metal trio celebrates beyond the twenty year mark of TAB with the band’s eighth full-length studio album, Scorpio.

I became acquainted with The Atomic Bitchwax segue Monster Magnet. Indeed the current line-up of Chris Kosnik, Garrett Sweeny, and Bob Pantella all play in Monster Magnet now, too. TAB material is different, though, being more jam-like, bluesy, and improvisational-feeling…and with a lot more lead guitar work than Monster Magnet.

The first TAB album came out in 1999, and the second was released the following year. For some time after that, commitments to other bands and a little line-up shuffling lead to an irregular recording schedule. But in 2015 there was Graviton, and in 2017 there was Force Field, and now there is Scorpio.

The new album is ten meaty cuts, starting with a reworking of one of the band’s earliest songs, “Hope You Die.” The new version has a fuller sound with the treble dialed down a mite. The groove metal is on full display from beginning to end. I have always had a soft spot for instrumentals and we get three this time: “Ninja,” “Crash,” and “Instant Death.” Damn can they rip out a jam! Could-be radio songs are there, too, like “Easy Action” – “Let’s get some satisfaction / Any kind of easy action.” I hear you. And “Super Sonic.” And “Betting Man.” This is rock and roll as far as I am concerned. One of the weirdest things about my life in music is I have never seen TAB live. I am all about fixing that. Wherever they are at next, I will be in the front row.

Scorpio is out on Friday, August 28th from Tee Pee Records at all the usuals. There is no way I can recommend this as much as it deserves and as much as I want. Go get it now. Highest recommendation.






The Atomic Bitchwax, Scorpio review (Tee Pee Records 2020)

The Naked High, Tap Into The Evil review (2020)

Montreal stoner/groove band The Naked High set the bar at a new level with their second album, Tap Into The Evil.

The foursome is Phil Rod (bass), Simon Ouellet (vocals), Hugo L-C (guitar), and Charlie Cayouette (drums). Their first album (self-titled) came out in 2017 and established the basis for their style and symptoms. The songs are dark and stalwart, and lay more on the doom line than the new one does. Their sound has evolved and is a little like a metal/doom version of Dangerous Toys, if that band had been a metal band (instead of a hair band), as they have a very bluesy persuasion to their compositions folded into a combination of squealing lead lines and heavy doom riffs. It is quite unusual and it is extremely compelling. Indeed, this band would fit right in on a label like Ripple.

The six songs on the new album all have a crisp sound and crack with a sustained energy. “Jewel of the Crowd” starts it all off, and the rhythm riff is a plundering thump with an infectious vocal and probing, muscular lead break to round it all out. This structure remains on display throughout but there is also something different that stands out on every song – “Rebirth” has, for example, that amazing bass line you can hear prominently under the wizened lead work. And there is “Pull of the Void” which has many Black Sabbath homages and propels its story of struggle and uncertainty through carefully selected musical elements. Every song is its own creation and they all stand together. I listened to both of The Naked High’s releases back to back and still wanted to hear more. I like this kind of music and I specifically really like the way this band does it. Recommended.

Tap Into The Evil is out now. You can get the download or vinyl at Bandcamp, and you can stream both their albums on Spotify, Apple Music, and so on.




The Naked High, Tap Into The Evil review (2020)