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Gojira - Fortitude review




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Reviewer:
7.5

419 users:
7.86
Band: Gojira
Album: Fortitude
Release date: April 2021


01. Born For One Thing
02. Amazonia
03. Another World
04. Hold On!
05. New Found
06. Fortitude
07. The Chant
08. Sphinx
09. Into The Storm
10. The Trails
11. Grind


Reviewing a divisive album by a major metal band? I'm sure this will be a rewarding experience for me.

It's been five years since Gojira, a band that became famous for their intensely heavy and complex music, released Magma, an album that dialled down both the heaviness and the complexity in favour of more straightforward/accessible ("Stranded") and atmospheric ("Magma", "Pray") songs. Unsurprisingly, Magma was a somewhat divisive album in the Gojira fanbase; however, the record was almost universally acclaimed by the mainstream metal media and brought in a whole new audience for the band, so it was expected that its eventual follow-up album would remain on a similar course. Ultimately, Fortitude is a continuation of the direction Gojira have been on since L'enfant Sauvage, with a few call-backs to their earlier material and new ideas as well.

With five songs pre-released as advance singles, there was plenty of opportunity to adjust expectations for Fortitude as each new track was made available. These songs featured examples of more simplistic and melodic tracks in the vein of "Stranded" ("Another World", "Into The Storm"), gnarlier material that leant closer to L'enfant Sauvage ("Born For One Thing"), and a couple of surprises in the forms of "Amazonia" and "The Chant". As someone who holds From Mars To Sirius and The Way Of All Flesh as the pinnacle of Gojira, but who has gotten a good degree of satisfaction out of Magma, I was open to Gojira going in any or all of these directions, but ultimately, after a dozen spins, I'm still not entirely convinced by Fortitude.

My feelings towards the advance singles had been muted, so I was a bit concerned when two of the standout tracks on the first couple of full album playthroughs were singles, suggesting either that with familiarity I had grown to appreciate them more, or that they only stood out compared to the rest of the album. In the case of "Born For One Thing" and "Another World", I believe it's more of the former, as they are both solid tracks. "Born For One Thing" is one of the more dynamic songs on Fortitude, deftly chopping between different riffs to deliver both power and tension. "Another World" is far more one-minded in terms of tempo and intensity, but it has a nice central guitar motif, as well as compelling atmospheric bridge section that serves as one of the best moments on the album.

The point about "Born For One Thing" switching between riffs relates to one of the things I'm less enthusiastic about on Fortitude. On their pre-Magma albums, Gojira wrote a number of songs that would quickly jump between sections, regularly shifting gears in terms of tempo and barely allowing listeners to familiarize themselves with one great riff before moving onto another one; think of the likes of "The Heaviest Matter In The Universe", "In The Wilderness" and "Adoration For None". On the most recent couple of albums, they've been more content to dwell on a riff for longer, perhaps an inevitable consequence of committing to more conventional song structures, whilst also staying at the same speed. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you previously wished they'd ride a particular section within a song for longer, but I also don't find many of the new riffs to be as engaging as the best of what they wrote before, so instead of an overload of great riffs, we get to enjoy slightly less great riffs for longer. One of the songs to which this is less applicable, "Hold On", has turned out to be my favourite track on Fortitude; after the overlong acapella intro is out of the way, it features some powerful atmospheric grooves, ear-grabbing guitar leads and gnarly complex riffing, all of which are delivered wonderfully.

On the flip side, I've found my enjoyment of "Amazonia" and "The Chant", two of the more 'experimental', as it were, tracks on Fortitude (and two that particularly highlight the album's lyrical focus on the Earth and the environment), to be slightly curtailed by this. "The Chant" is a departure for Gojira, serving as something of an extension of "The Shooting Star" from Magma in terms of focusing on slow melody whilst also progressing the band's use of clean singing (a regular feature on the album). I generally like this song, particularly some of the guitar work, but it runs for 5 minutes, plus the two-minute title track that serves as an introduction to "The Chant", and there is no change of pace and relatively little song progression. When you consider the type of journey a 7-minute Gojira song used to take you on ("Flying Whales", "In The Wilderness"), it's a bit underwhelming to sit through 7 minutes and feel like you've hardly moved.

Outside of this main point, my feelings towards Fortitude are of general enjoyment, albeit enjoyment punctuated with minor niggles. The prioritization of arena-friendly choruses in Gojira's sound is understandable, but whilst I generally don't mind them, the one in "New Found" has a cheesiness to it that doesn't really fit will with Gojira for me. Later on in the album, "Into The Storm" reminds me of "The Cell" and "Esoteric Surgery" in the introduction and verse, respectively, but neither section feels like an improvement on their counterparts in the previous tracks. "The Trails", in contrast, feels like this album's version of "Born In Winter" in terms of being a predominantly muted penultimate song on the tracklist, but by not undergoing the same evolution as it progresses, "The Trails" doesn't make the same kind of impact as "Born In Winter".

Despite all these minor points that detracted from my experience listening to Fortitude, I do still ultimately think it's a good album. In addition to the highlights I previously mentioned, I think "Sphinx" and "Grind" generally do a good job of reprising the intensity of their pre-Magma material, and I enjoy the shift to a more melodic approach in the second half of "Grind". Additionally, I think that overall, Gojira have done a respectable job of taking the core elements of their acclaimed albums and converting them into a more widely accessible style. Ultimately, if Magma was Gojira's Black Album, then Fortitude isn't their Load; the record should consolidate new fans, and whilst older fans unconvinced by Magma are less likely to be won over by Fortitude, it shouldn't lose those fans that were on board with the shift on Magma. As far as I'm concerned, I generally like the record, and I can see myself giving it the occasional listen down the line that I do with Magma, but despite giving it ample opportunity to persuade me, I'm still not completely sold on it.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 8





Written on 02.05.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not

Guest review by
Mehrad
Rating:
8.5
The new Gojira album is not Magma 2, and it's not completely a "U Turn" from it. It has the perfect combination of both "old" and "new" Gojira.

Read more ››
published 03.06.2021 | Comments (6)


Comments

Comments: 28   Visited by: 408 users
02.05.2021 - 15:35
nikarg
Mod
Fair review. I really cannot disagree with any of the points you make although I seem to enjoy this album quite a bit more than you do. I particularly relate to this:

Quote:
Ultimately, if Magma was Gojira's Black Album, then Fortitude isn't their Load; the record should consolidate new fans, and whilst older fans unconvinced by Magma are less likely to be won over by Fortitude, it shouldn't lose those fans that were on board with the shift on Magma.


Commercially speaking, I also think that Magma was Gojira's Black Album. But I strongly dislike the Black Album (and Load was a load of shit), while I think Magma is really good; in fact, it is my favourite after FMTS. Time will tell, but for now my guess is that it is very likely that I will enjoy Fortitude even more.
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02.05.2021 - 16:41
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Did you guys hear that strange noise?
Somewhere in Iran, Larry David's carotid artery has just burst.
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signatures = SPAM
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02.05.2021 - 18:48
Rating: 9
Mehrad

Written by Starvynth on 02.05.2021 at 16:41

Did you guys hear that strange noise?
Somewhere in Iran, Larry David's carotid artery has just burst.

LMAO
no it's okay to not "love" an album by a band that you do love
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02.05.2021 - 18:56
Rating: 9
Mehrad

Good review
agreed on The Chant being a little longer than it should and Into The Storm sounding like The Cell in the beginning (probably my least favorite song on this album)
personally enjoyed this album alot , my favorite song was probably New Found , god the riffs here are so good
I think it's better than magma (some might disagree but even better than L'enfant Sauvage IMO), because it has a lot more variety and I enjoyed it more ... but as time goes by , my opinions change about their albums , so we'll see
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02.05.2021 - 19:03
Rating: 7
AndreMarcos

Great review. 7.5 is in my opinion, a spot on score for this album and Sphinx and Grind are the highlights of the album
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02.05.2021 - 19:23
Rating: 7
musclassia

Written by Mehrad on 02.05.2021 at 18:56

I think it's better than magma (some might disagree but even better than L'enfant Sauvage IMO), because it has a lot more variety and I enjoyed it more ... but as time goes by , my opinions change about their albums , so we'll see


Yeah, with every album there's a risk of putting a score on a review and then looking back in a year or two and wondering what you were thinking; I have a few scores of mine that I see when skimming my old review and feel that way about. I don't get the sense that I'll feel the same about Fortitude in the future, but you never know - at present, I prefer Magma to L'enfant Sauvage (or at least I feel more inclined to revisit it), which I didn't anticipate when Magma was first out
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02.05.2021 - 20:59
Desha
delicious dish
Written by musclassia on 02.05.2021 at 19:23

Yeah, with every album there's a risk of putting a score on a review and then looking back in a year or two and wondering what you were thinking

I feel like this with every of my reviews and I don't even really rate albums even...
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building a house in the fire on the hill
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02.05.2021 - 22:01
Rating: 9
Mehrad

Written by Desha on 02.05.2021 at 20:59

Written by musclassia on 02.05.2021 at 19:23

Yeah, with every album there's a risk of putting a score on a review and then looking back in a year or two and wondering what you were thinking

I don't even really rate albums even...

why not ?
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Ride a horse that's cleaving through the air and space of dreams.
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02.05.2021 - 23:04
Rating: 9
Nejde
Philosoraptor
Don't wanna be that guy but you misspelled The Trails twice in your review

On a serious note though, I really enjoy and appreciate your reviews. They're always very nuanced and you explain the pros and cons you see with an album in a very good manner, avoiding writing in a negative way even when there are things you dislike. You're very diplomatic and I like that. To me it becomes very clear that you put a lot of thought into your reviews while writing them and that's a trait I respect.
Also I guess this must be one of the harder reviews you've written since the fans are quite polarized about this album and still you managed to balance the pros and cons brilliantly. Imo this is one of your best reviews. So kudos to you sir!
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"You have the right to believe in what you want. I have the right to believe it's ridiculous." - Ricky Gervais
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03.05.2021 - 00:29
Rating: 7
musclassia

Written by Nejde on 02.05.2021 at 23:04

Don't wanna be that guy but you misspelled The Trails twice in your review


What a rookie mistake - thanks for pointing out, I'll go fix it

Written by Nejde on 02.05.2021 at 23:04

On a serious note though, I really enjoy and appreciate your reviews. They're always very nuanced and you explain the pros and cons you see with an album in a very good manner, avoiding writing in a negative way even when there are things you dislike. You're very diplomatic and I like that. To me it becomes very clear that you put a lot of thought into your reviews while writing them and that's a trait I respect.
Also I guess this must be one of the harder reviews you've written since the fans are quite polarized about this album and still you managed to balance the pros and cons brilliantly. Imo this is one of your best reviews. So kudos to you sir!


Cheers, took some thinking on how to put all my thoughts together but I think it all came togther. And yeah, I try to be diplomatic - at the end of the day, all these reviews are just of people making music, and metal music at that; except for the hugest of acts, it's hard to be cynical about the motivations of the people involved, so most of the music I review is just people's passion projects that they're sharing with the world. I try and be measured with my scores just to allow the truly standout albums to, well, stand out, but I don't try to be cruel or mean-spirited about things I dislike, both to be sympathetic to the person that made it and to not sound like I'm insulting the people that do like it. I guess there's rare exceptions, like that Fallujah album where the band was just being completely dismissive to any non-positive comments even before I'd got round to listening to it, but for the most part that's the aim.
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03.05.2021 - 10:02
Desha
delicious dish
Written by Mehrad on 02.05.2021 at 22:01

why not ?

Number ratings without a review are fundamentally worthless to me. I need to know how you grade stuff and why you grade something like that. At which point, I have to read a review anyways. They're not totally useless (especially with an accompanying review), but still. Outside of reviews I find rating stuff a waste of time.

Written by musclassia on 03.05.2021 at 00:29

at the end of the day, all these reviews are just of people making music, and metal music at that; except for the hugest of acts, it's hard to be cynical about the motivations of the people involved, so most of the music I review is just people's passion projects that they're sharing with the world. I try and be measured with my scores just to allow the truly standout albums to, well, stand out, but I don't try to be cruel or mean-spirited about things I dislike, both to be sympathetic to the person that made it and to not sound like I'm insulting the people that do like it.


Yeah, always good to remember especially in internet discussions. I have a lot of strong opinions, but aside from the occasional fascists making music, I don't actively hate records or bands for doing stuff I don't like anymore and I don't resent people for liking them. Maybe I should make this more obvious with my tone hahahahaha
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You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
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03.05.2021 - 18:09
Enemy of Reality
Account deleted
Gojira for me were always a band to listen to a couple of songs and that was it. Later I saw them live at a festival and through pouring rain and animal baloons I understood why people love them. They're absolutely intense live. But honestly I don't think they have captured that intensity well in their studio recordings. Where Dragons Dwell, The Axe and Silvera may be the closest they got to it in songs, and this new album again fails to deliver that fat, involving and monstrous sound they reproduce so well live. I went through this thing 3 times and with each repetition became more and more indifferent to the songs. I'll keep on spinning From Mars to Sirius and Magma from time to time and I'm good with Gojira. The rating is ok, somewhere between 6 and 7,5 is perfectly fine.
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03.05.2021 - 21:14
zavijava

Seriously????
Only a 7.5? You must be Crazy
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03.05.2021 - 21:29
Rating: 6
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by zavijava on 03.05.2021 at 21:14

Only a 7.5?

Too high to be honest
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
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04.05.2021 - 08:51
Rating: 9
Mehrad

Written by zavijava on 03.05.2021 at 21:14

Seriously????
Only a 7.5? You must be Crazy

it's a divisive album. some might think it deserves 7.5 , some might think that's too high. personally would rate it between 8.5 and 9 but it's all opinions so who cares
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Ride a horse that's cleaving through the air and space of dreams.
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04.05.2021 - 23:56
Rating: 7
JavierPaper

For me the score of 7.5 is perfect for this album.
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05.05.2021 - 01:57
Rating: 7
Ace Frawley
The Spaceman
Great review man, really well written and comprehensive. Enjoyed it a lot, thanks for writing.
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The sun shines over The Fool...
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05.05.2021 - 14:28
Fallen Ghost
Craft Beer Geek
Into the Storm is actually my favorite on this album. I think the intro reminds me of The Cell, which is in my opinion one of the strongest songs on Magma. Also, the drums screams Gojira. The chorus feels epic and catchy, without feeling "mainstream". I think it's a perfect example of a blend of their new and older approach.
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06.05.2021 - 12:01
Valentin B
Iconoclast
It's a courageous task to review an album that is polarising from a very popular band that is also polarising. I quite liked this album, maybe it's not my usual style, but I dig the last 2 albums. Not everyone can make the same kind of music all the time.

Now this does not seem to happen so much on Metal Storm due to good moderation and a general constructive and positive discussion atmosphere, but I have to mention this too:

Those who feel entitled to a certain version of Gojira as if they are some kind of jukebox where you insert 60 for the latest album, concert ticket and band merch, and the music you want to listen to comes out: please stop banging on your keyboards and instead do something productive like ignore Gojira and support any of the other fantastic extreme metal bands out there who need your attention and support.
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06.05.2021 - 12:11
Rating: 9
Mehrad

Written by Valentin B on 06.05.2021 at 12:01

It's a courageous task to review an album that is polarising from a very popular band that is also polarising. I quite liked this album, maybe it's not my usual style, but I dig the last 2 albums. Not everyone can make the same kind of music all the time.

Now this does not seem to happen so much on Metal Storm due to good moderation and a general constructive and positive discussion atmosphere, but I have to mention this too:

Those who feel entitled to a certain version of Gojira as if they are some kind of jukebox where you insert 60 � for the latest album, concert ticket and band merch, and the music you want to listen to comes out: please stop banging on your keyboards and instead do something productive like ignore Gojira and support any of the other fantastic extreme metal bands out there who need your attention and support.

nice take
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Ride a horse that's cleaving through the air and space of dreams.
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06.05.2021 - 15:05
Daniell
_爱情_
Written by Valentin B on 06.05.2021 at 12:01

Those who feel entitled to a certain version of Gojira as if they are some kind of jukebox where you insert 60 � for the latest album, concert ticket and band merch, and the music you want to listen to comes out: please stop banging on your keyboards and instead do something productive like ignore Gojira and support any of the other fantastic extreme metal bands out there who need your attention and support.

I have one thing to say to the people you so aptly described: bands are not your bitch.
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06.05.2021 - 22:43
LordFezzington
Lost To Apathy
Written by Valentin B on 06.05.2021 at 12:01

Those who feel entitled to a certain version of Gojira as if they are some kind of jukebox where you insert 60 for the latest album, concert ticket and band merch, and the music you want to listen to comes out: please stop banging on your keyboards and instead do something productive like ignore Gojira and support any of the other fantastic extreme metal bands out there who need your attention and support.

Hard agree. This sums up so many 'fans' so well. Bands evolve - if you want to keep listening to them, adapt with them or GTFO. Admittedly, I'm much more relaxed about this than I used to be!

And on the flip side - and this is incredibly obvious if you ask me - not everybody has to proclaim a new record the best thing ever for you to enjoy it. It's OK that other people don't like it. I'll never understand why some people seem to let others' disdain for something lessen their own enjoyment of it.

And great review incidentally, musclassia. I like the record a quite bit more than you, but you clearly put a lot of time and thought into this.
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10.05.2021 - 20:28
Tuonelan

Metal fans are weird. We are one of the few subcultures that consistently say that something is "polarizing" when it's mostly just music that is a little easier for a casual metal listener to appreciate (how dare they!). Meanwhile, we treat music that is actually polarizing (intended to produce strong opinions and provoke rejection) like that's just what is expected.

Solid, listenable, well produced album that holds together well. Should pull in some more fans as a gateway to less mainstream heavy music.
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Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy
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15.05.2021 - 10:20
Rating: 9
metalbrat

I have listened to Gojira as singles only before Magma. Never heard it as a complete album other than Magma because as soon as I start, I lose interest by 3rd or 4th song. Even this album I have reached only 2nd, but whatever I heard, is mind-blowing. I believe I will sit through the whole album.
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In the beginning I was made of clay. Then I bit the apple and they changed me to metal 🤘
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16.05.2021 - 21:05
Rating: 9
Mehrad

Written by metalbrat on 15.05.2021 at 10:20

I have listened to Gojira as singles only before Magma. Never heard it as a complete album other than Magma because as soon as I start, I lose interest by 3rd or 4th song. Even this album I have reached only 2nd, but whatever I heard, is mind-blowing. I believe I will sit through the whole album.

you definitely should
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Ride a horse that's cleaving through the air and space of dreams.
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17.05.2021 - 18:25
Rating: 9
metalbrat

....and I did.....and it was awesome...:thumbup:
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In the beginning I was made of clay. Then I bit the apple and they changed me to metal 🤘
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17.05.2021 - 18:28
Rating: 9
metalbrat

Written by Mehrad on 02.05.2021 at 18:56

Good review
agreed on The Chant being a little longer than it should and Into The Storm sounding like The Cell in the beginning (probably my least favorite song on this album)
personally enjoyed this album alot , my favorite song was probably New Found , god the riffs here are so good
I think it's better than magma (some might disagree but even better than L'enfant Sauvage IMO), because it has a lot more variety and I enjoyed it more ... but as time goes by , my opinions change about their albums , so we'll see

I was listening to New Found shile reading this. What a coincidence.
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In the beginning I was made of clay. Then I bit the apple and they changed me to metal 🤘
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26.07.2022 - 03:32
Rating: 8
tintinb

Funnily enough , it was the more experimental songs? Chant and amazonia, that made me like this album even more.
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Leeches everywhere.
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