A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Track #29 on Thommy Ford’s Playlist
I have a feeling that most of the readers of this library blog are not really into heavy metal. Just a hunch. But I grew up on the stuff, and have never given up on it. These days you see a lot of nostalgic love for old metal groups—not to mention a lot of retro metal revivalist bands—but to the casual listener new metal probably seems to have run off the rails. Whenever someone hears one of my favorite contemporary metal bands, like High on Fire or The Atlas Moth, I get told that it’s just “pounding and screaming.”
So I’m always looking for gateway contemporary metal to recommend. The sort of groups that strike the right balance between approachable and uncompromising. To me the album L’Enfant Sauvage by French band Gojira is the ideal place for the uninitiated to start. It’s still mostly just pounding and screaming, but Gojira do pounding and screaming with a lot of appeal.
Take the title track for example. There’s just enough melodic content to draw listeners in—guitarist Christian Andreu has a knack for catchy tremolo picked leads that at times remind me of surf guitar, and singer Joe Duplantier has the ability to carry a bit of a tune while growling his throat raw—and yet, the real strength is still in the incredibly heavy rhythm section led by drummer Mario Duplantier. The song shifts signatures and tempos so easily, I find myself occasionally stopping the track and backing up to hear it again. If you can just get past the fact that you’re listening to something loud and aggressive, you’ll hear the thrilling musicianship behind it.
Lyrically there’s nothing to scare away any squeamish listeners. Gojira often take on social, political, and even philosophical issues. The words aren’t brilliant, but they can be inspiringly rebellious. “L’Enfant Sauvage” translates to “savage child” or “wild child.” Throughout the song Joe Duplantier tries to justify a sort of civilization rejecting rebellion, culminating in a violently screamed “I owe myself life!” Maybe we haven’t all Hulked-out about it quite like Joe, but I think most of us can relate to that sentiment on some level.
So anyway, if you want to take the time to get to know what’s going on in contemporary metal, my recommendation is to start with Gojira. You can pick up their album L’Enfant Sauvage in our Rock section.
Review by Matthew