Gojira takes its name from the original Japanese name for Godzilla, and it’s an appropriately gigantic title for this French progressive metal band, which combines the pounding, robotic grooves of Meshuggah with the sprawling ambition of Opeth on its fourth album. The Way of All Flesh rarely achieves either the jaw-dropping technical precision of Meshuggah or the heartbreaking grandeur of Opeth, but Gojira has carved out an equally muscular and majestic place all its own in between. It’s probably the future of metal—the mechanical rhythms and wicked time changes of ’90s death metal underpinning mammoth distorted riffs adorned by passages of dissonance, complex harmonies, and grand suites of mid-tempo, melodic guitar leads.
It’s pretty smart, too. Gojira’s 2006 breakthrough album, From Mars to Sirius, established the band as an aggressive advocate of deep ecology. Here the group considers human mortality, coming up with a vague existential stoicism that draws on Eastern philosophy, Greek mythology, and classic Enlightenment individualism to expound on life and death and humanity’s place in nature. Heavy stuff for a metal band, with music to match.