Gojira with The Devin Townsend Project & The Atlas Moth @ Mill City Nights
January 14th, 2013
I have been to a few shows at downtown Minneapolis’ Mill City Nights since their rebranding, and I must say as far as sound quality goes – that place is made for metal. Real metal.
It is quite possible that nothing is more ‘metal’ than Gojira (the native Japanese Romanized spelling of Godzilla), the most legendary kaiju, or giant monster, of Japanese cinema. The creature rises out of the ocean, mutated by nuclear radiation, devastating seaside villages, then Tokyo, bringing the terrors of the Second Great War back into the minds of the Japanese populace. As horrific as this is, its well, uh… metal (for further definitions of ‘metal’ see Adult Swim’s hit series, Metalocalypse).
Well a few young gentlemen with long hair and fast fingers from the southwestern French village, Ondres, realized this – and named their metal project in honor of the beast, almost as a virgin sacrifice. With brothers Joe and Mario Duplantier on rhythm guitar / vocals and drums respectively, Christian Andreu on lead guitar, and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass, Gojira has completed five studio albums and three live DVDs, with no lineup changes (and wrote a bloody song called “Flying Whales” – how neat is that?). The band has toured in support of legends such as Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom, Lamb of God, and Behemoth among others. In June of 2012, Gojira released their fifth studio album and their Roadrunner Records debut, L’Enfant Sauvage (which translates to ‘The Wild Child’). This record turned out to be, easily, one of 2012’s best metal releases, bending sub-genres with its unique composition and philosophical lyrics and subtext – tackling introspective dissonance on the meaning of freedom.
Monday night, January 14, 2013, marked the first evening for Gojira’s2013 U.S. tour in support of the album, with opening acts The (LEGENDARY) Devin Townsend Project and Chicago’s Atlas Moth. The event kicked off at Minneapolis’ own Mill City Nights. The opening acts were solid, and Devin Townsend’s notorious stage presence was indeed present. However, Gojira.Gojira, man.
After a grueling sound-check, anticipation ran high. A black cover was pulled off an enormous backlit set piece of L’enfantSauvage’s humanoid album image, and the band immediately dove into the opening track for the album, “Explosia.” Gojira is a band known for merging traditional progressive elements with a heavy technical influence, encompassing uncommon song structures, unusual time signatures, and the absence of the standard verse, course, verse structure. Between the opening track, and the second, “Flying Whales,” Gojira’s own stage presence, rapid choreographed stage shifts and passionate playing, reflected all of the aforementioned informalities of their music.
Throughout Gojira’s set, the band performed near perfect renditions of some of their most complicated material of their latter four albums, such as From Mars To Sirius’s “Backbone,” and The Way of all Flesh’s “The Art of Dying”. Though, those who may be familiar with the details of their studio releases would not be disappointed, as at various points the band reversed familiar scales, or shifted octaves slightly. The lighting reflected the process of the arrangements, with deep blue-greens at slower points, and frantic seizure-inductive true whites flashing through heavy rhythms. During the band’s fifth song, the title track of L’Enfant Sauvage, Gojira’s background set piece became more visually intoxicating, projecting violent black and white images through the negative space replicating trees of neural pathways. Gojira only stumbled once through their set, during the sixth track “The Art of Dying,” where a minor step-up caused them to restart the song’s intro. The rest of the performance was delivered with an efficiency only often seen at the level of a professional orchestra. At one point in the set, brothers Joe and Mario traded instruments, and surprisingly with near perfection – and Mario breathed the Devil’s tongue through vocals in true death metal fashion. Gojira concluded their set with “The Axe,” only to come to encore with The Way of All Flesh’s “Vacuity.”
All in all, this was one of the strongest metal performances I have seen to date. Furthermore, one of the best sounding and well thought out of concerts I have had the pleasure to attend. Gojira, while at the pinnacle of their career thus far, will hopefully continue to revive the metal scene with their unique perspective on the genre. If you ever enjoyed any era of heavy music, Gojira, one of the leaders of contemporary metal, is a band you must hear. If the true beast set your town ablaze, you wouldn’t miss it – so do not pass up a chance to see their set in the future.
Written by Morgan Luther, Radio K volunteer.