At O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., March 15, 2017

GOJIRA (Live at O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., March 15, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Gojira translated from Japanese literally means Godzilla which is about as an apt a name as possible for the French Progressive Death Metallers. Like their erstwhile lizard namesake, they too are a monstrous entity forged from environmental catastrophe. Well sort of. Gojira sidestep the usual death related topics of some of their musical compatriots focussing more on political and environmental themes in particular with their music channelling their rage at the destruction and desolation of the planet by man’s activities.

With no loss of musical integrity and no compromise on intensity their latest album Magma charted worldwide while garnering two Grammy nominations in the process. Not bad for a band whose humble beginnings in Bayonne in France 20 years ago have grown steadily over the years through sheer hard work but broke through with their ground breaking release L’Enfant Sauvage in 2012 and there’s been no looking back since.

Gojira’s debut appearance in Newcastle at Northumbria University a couple of years ago, caused quite a stir so it was no surprise that their return to the region pulled in a large, enthusiastic crowd to the Academy.

With atmospheric lighting and projections flashing across a huge video screen to the rear Gojira slammed into gear with the boneshaking juddering riff of Only Pain followed swiftly by suitably entitled, The Heaviest Matter of the Universe, a dreamy love ballad this most certainly wasn’t.

While some long standing fans have raised an eyebrow or two at the comparatively “commercial” edge to Silvera and L’Enfant Sauvage, in reality the strong emphasis on melody and the clean vocals of Joe Duplantier mixing with his manic growls, simply add a further dynamic to the crushing Gojira onslaught.

Brother Mario Duplantier may look slight of frame but his supremely technical drumming and hammering blast beats marks him out as one of the most innovative drummers of his generation. His monstrous performance is worth the price of admission on its own.

The angst and frustration at the environmental destruction of the planet and devastating impact on the wildlife, which even extends to a stall for environmental pressure group Sea Shepherd next to the merch stall, comes to the fore on Toxic Garbage Island while the hypnotic groove and moody atmospherics of Pray offers a real counterpoint to the heavy weight stomp of Oroborus.

A Gojira show is not to be taken lightly. It’s an intense and exhausting experience but one that ultimately rewards their devotees with a masterclass in modern, innovative Metal.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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