In an attempt to gain an outside perspective on our current cover stars, Gojira, we contacted author, radio personality and all-around bearded badass Ian Christe. Here’s what our man had to say about his personal interest in the band and how he sees them fitting into the wider scope of the current metal scene.
When did you first hear Gojira? What was it about their sound that excited you at the time?
The first Gojira record I heard was From Mars to Sirius, at the end of 2005. If you remember, that was a time when metal was still regaining some traction and getting back on its feet. The up-and-comers of the day thought they had to insert horrible schizophrenic sing-song choruses into otherwise solid material. Gojira was engaging and memorable, you could hear the broad appeal, but they sounded like a moderate version of Morbid Angel with extra breathing room.
How do you see Gojira fitting in to the metal spectrum, as far as sonic kinship with other bands/scenes or in the growth of mainstream interest in metal?
I think their two main influences have always been very apparent: Morbid Angel and Sepultura. So, like Sepultura around Chaos AD, they have come out of a death metal embryo into some kind of more general aggression. I think they’re a great product of their time, a complex metal band that integrates death metal without becoming slaves to genre convention.
How do you think a band like Gojira toes the line between underground music (which most metal will always be) and wider success?
I don’t believe that metal will always be underground music, in fact that’s one reason Gojira is interesting. They have a kind of open-ended upper cap on what’s possible for them. They could very easily end up in movie soundtracks and car commercials. I don’t believe metal is supposed to be some precious, carefully-guarded little secret. I want to see reflections of it in the world around me, and Gojira is a good bet for that. They can pull off all kinds of complex material on stage. I just saw them opening for Iron Maiden outdoors in front of tens of thousands of people, and they totally came across. Still looking for billboards for Gojira-endorsed whale wax, though.
What do you think of Gojira’s more recent albums (The Way of All Flesh, L’Enfant Sauvage) and this year’s Magma?
After finessing their approach over the course of fifteen years, something in the band has changed on Magma. I guess they’ve opened up to a Pink Floyd or possibly Mastodon way of doing things? They can certainly pull it off. Because of the album title, and being a fellow French band, I was looking for some connection to the prog cult Magma, but I don’t really hear any of that. They are venturing into prog rock territory more than ever, so hopefully Mars Volta, Opeth, and maybe even Tool fans can accept Gojira. Of course I don’t to see any drift away from metal in any bands, but Gojira has little left to prove. If they want to space out for a while and let the world catch up, great.