Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Activist Edition,” where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Image credit: Photo: Steve Brown)

Earth is in trouble. From global warming to crooked politicians demonising the disadvantaged, there’s a lot to be scared about. Heading up our special look at metal bands across the planet who are standing up and encouraging us to make a difference, we talk to a fired-up Gojira about the environment, their new album and how a life-changing loss has made them stronger than ever.

As children growing up in Ondres, a bijou, tranquil town on France’s south-west coast, Joe Duplantier and his younger brother Mario were forever building dens, collecting driftwood from the beach and fallen branches from the nearly woods to fashion rudimentary shelters in which they would hide away for hours at a time to watch the daily rituals of the natural world slowly unfurl. Memories of those innocent, idyllic days came back to the Duplantier brothers as they set to work building their own recording studio in the rather less bucolic surroundings of Ridgewood, in the New York borough of Queens, during the winter of 2014. Day after day, the pair hauled sand, wood and cement into the warehouse, working dawn to dusk with hammers, saws and trowels upon the construction in the harshest of weather conditions. It wasn’t glamourous work – the lack of basic toilet facilities at the outset necessitated shitting into plastic bags – but by the spring of 2015 Gojira’s vocalist/guitarist and drummer siblings were elated that their dream recording facility, now called Silver Cord Studio, was coming together exactly as they had envisaged it.

“When we write and record a record, we need to feel comfortable, like we’re in our own cocoon,”says Joe Duplantier. “Building this space ourselves, we were able to be particular with the materials we had around us, and the textures and visuals and lighting. We’re French, so we’re very poetic and romantic and sensitive, and we believe that everything is connected, and so if we like the walls we’re looking at, then the music we make within those walls will probably sound good when we record it.”

In April 2015, the brothers set up at Silver Cord to begin work upon their sixth album, the follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed L’Enfant Sauvage. Just two weeks into the process, however, the brothers received news from home that their mother was gravely ill in hospital, and their carefully constructed world began to fall apart.

Joe Duplantier is making waves in the metal world (Image credit: Image by Steve Brown)

Vivacious American student Patricia Rosa was just 20 years old when she met and fell in love with French artist Dominique Duplantier during a trip to Europe in the early 1970s. The pair married and settled outside Bayonne, where Patricia taught yoga and dance classes while raising three children, Joe, Gabrielle and Mario. Interviewed in 2013 by Decibel magazine, Patricia remembered her elder boy, Joe, as a “creative, sensitive, gentle” youngster, while Mario, five years younger, was “an expansive, funny, lovable, carefree and open child.” Today, the brothers speak of their childhood as “beautiful, organic and happy”, with both parents providing warm encouragement and support for their various creative endeavours. “It was a very nice environment,” recalls Joe. “Life was about creating weird stuff all day. And our mum taught us to respect things and people. She was always interested in the natural world, always picking up little stones and pieces of wood on the beach and putting them together to make something beautiful. She helped make us who we are.”

As articulate, well-mannered, thoughtful and compassionate human beings as you’re ever likely to encounter, the Duplantier brothers are a real credit to their upbringing. Sitting beside their mother’s bedside last year as she battled against cancer was naturally painful and traumatic for her loving sons, with Joe remembering the time as “a real nightmare”. “She was suffering so much, it was Hell for her,” says Joe quietly. “We didn’t know whether to hope for her to get better or to hope that it would end soon. It was spiritual and mental torture to not know what to wish for. We had to learn not to hope, but to just live in the moment.” On July 5, 2015, surrounded by her family, Patricia Rosa Duplantier passed away.

Left to pick up the pieces of their own lives, after returning to New York with their own children and resuming work upon their new album, Joe and Mario would often find themselves overwhelmed with emotion during their recording sessions, tears streaming down their faces as they tracked new songs. Understandably, then, Gojira’s new material became infused with memories of the past and thoughtful, poignant and affecting reflections upon life, love, loss and mortality. Much like Baroness’s beautiful Purple, another album born from harrowing experiences, the resulting collection of songs have a transcendent, uplifting quality, uncovering hope and light amid the darkness. On The Shooting Star, Joe Duplantier sings: ‘When you get to the other side, please send a sign.’ On Low Lands, the lyrics run: ‘While you drift away from all the plagues of this world, you’re put out of misery… giant monster, you won’t have to face it again.’ And on the album’s title track, Magma, his words are: ‘The poison slowly spreads, through the body and the mind. Close your eyes and drop your things, be ready to fly…’

Psychedelic Lunch

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka “The Concert Critic”

On this this date in history, 8/16/2019, Slipknot brought their Knotfest roadshow to Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Although the masked marauders hail from Iowa in the USA, the other 3 bands brought international diversity to the heavy music showcase.

Behemoth, from Poland, began the proceedings with a ferocious display of Black Metal mastery. The corpse painted band’s dark theatricality and Satanic imagery probably didn’t win over too many of the Slipknot faithful, but I thought they were the best of all the bands that day.

Behemoth are playing for keeps, and that emotional approach always finds its crowd.

Gojira, hailing originally from France, were barely below Behemoth in my estimation, and they played a fantastic set, too. In particular, Mario Duplantier’s drumming is beyond amazing. That guy simply plays patterns that seemingly no-one else has thought of, and he is a lot of fun to watch while he is up there slaughtering his drum kit.

Up next were Denmark’s Volbeat, and they were definitely the least metal of all the bands, but they were quite well received.

A friend remarked that their singer’s voice reminded him of the Swedish chef from The Muppets, and now I simply can’t “un-hear” that comparison!

Rob Caggiano (who previously played lead guitar in Anthrax) played some solid guitar solos and they sounded great mix-wise, but I think overall that Volbeat would be better on a tour more suited to their musical style.

Slipknot did what Slipknot does, which is to say that everything was bigger, brighter, and louder than everyone else. One small complaint for me personally was that one of the utility guys seemed to spend way too much of his time playing around on the treadmill up on the second level of the stage. It was pretty distracting, to say the least. Okay, it was downright annoying! Oh, yes…and Corey Taylor’s vocals were often too low in the mix. With all that is going on in Slipknot’s music, it can’t be easy to give everyone equal attention, but in general, vocals are supposed to be audible in the mix, and the sound guy wasn’t getting it done.

This was my 9th time seeing Slipknot, the 4th seeing Behemoth, the 2nd seeing Gojira, and the first time for Volbeat. All in all, I had a fantastic time, but I stand by my original reason to attend this show. I was there for Behemoth and Gojira, and for my money, those were the best 2 bands on that stage.

Kudos to Slipknot for their generosity towards the support bands.

Everyone had excellent sound, lights and backdrops…all 3 of the openers actually had better mixes than the headliners, but Slipknot is a cottage industry at this stage in their career, and like Metallica, they kind of play by their own rules.

As long as they take this approach to touring, I imagine I will be seeing them several more times before they hang up their masks.

On This Day in History

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Gojira: L’Enfant Sauvage

French progressive death metal maestros Gojira released their major label debut in 2012, the ferociously creative L’Enfant Sauvage (French for The Wild Child). Led by Joe Duplantier on lead vocals and guitar and his brother Mario Duplantier, one of the best and most original drummers in extreme metal.

Gojira writes songs with deep philosophical meaning, often with an environmental message, setting them apart from most of their contemporaries.

The music is savagely heavy, but somehow cerebral and thoughtful at the same time. Some of the highlights of L’Enfant Sauvage include The Axe, The Gift Of Guilt, Planned Obsolescence, Liquid Fire, Explosia, Mouth Of Kala, and Born In Winter.

I was extremely fortunate to witness Gojira live with my 2 favorite bands, Opeth and The Devin Townsend Project. Gojira joined their ranks with their intensely hypnotic and brutal performance.

I can’t recommend them enough…if you haven’t heard them yet, what are you waiting for?

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

“From Mars” by Gojira

I just looked myself

Straight in the eyes and saw

That I had to move

To higher places

So I took my courage

In both hands and

I pushed off the ground

With all my might

Took off from the red place

In the sky I fly

I have lost my reason

And I’ve made my sense

From up there I will see

Where I’m from

And where the force of love

Will tell me now to go

But why do you say

That you are lost

If you don’t even try

To find yourself

My words are a stairs

I put my feet on

And I climb through

A starless night to my place

Bryson

Bryson’s Picks

 

On this date in history, 5/13/17, I reached musical nirvana at the Opeth, Gojira, Devin Townsend Project concert at Old National Centre’s Egyptian Room in Indianapolis.

This multinational assault featured Sweden’s Opeth, France’s Gojira, and Canada’s Devin townsend Project, each playing a headliner worthy set of creative mastery and unbridled passionate devotion to their uniquely individual metal styles. devin_toensend_project_i_by_henrikack-d41mafa

Hevy Devy started things off with a full throttle condensed selection of songs from his various solo efforts, a veritable highlight reel of his career in a spellbinding half hour set.

Devin Townsend Project – Stormbending

His vocals were absolutely breathtaking and his antics onstage were often hilarious as he made faces and funny comments throughout, showing his goofy nature, obviously loving every minute of it.

This was the final night of the tour for the Project, and all 3 bands displayed massive respect for each other. I can’t recall ever hearing a band open a show with the amount of power that the DTP displayed. This was further proof that Opeth takes great care of their openers.

GOJ-212Next up was the ferocious Gojira. They had the most physical effect on the crowd, inciting some frantic moshpits with their hypnotically crushing wall of sound.

Gojira – The Cell

The lead singer, Joe Duplantier, at one point made an intensely heartfelt speech about living in the moment, and looking around and really seeing everyone doing just that was a powerfully emotional wave that surged through the crowd.

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Photo Credit:  facebook.com/GojiraMusic/

 

One thing all the bands shared besides their excellence was the fact that they are all built on top of unbelievably talented drummers.

Gojira’s set began with the drummer starting the first song by himself, laying down a pulverizing beat that was joined by a relentless wall of sound that continued for their entire set. I’m officially a big fan and will be purchasing some of their music with a quickness.

Opeth capped this evening of extraordinary music with a majestic display of their nearly limitless range, effortlessly shifting in and out of genre upon genre of styles, like a snake shedding its skin, or a caterpillar being reborn as a raging dragon.

Opeth-7

OPETH – Era

Mikael Akerfeldt was superb in his vocals, his guitar playing, and his role as master of ceremonies, always charming and often stand up comedian level funny.

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Photo Credit: facebook.com/Opeth/

 

I went to this show expecting it to be one of the best of my concert career, and I was absolutely correct! Shows like this are better than any drug or drink on the planet…I feel so incredibly alive right now. Music makes everything better!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka   The Concert Critic

 

 

On This Date in History

Review: Gojira Deserve to Take Experimental Riffage Mainstream on ‘Magma’

 

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Written By Adrien Begrand via Spin Magazine

In 1988, Canadian band Voivod pulled off one of the most stunning musical transformations in heavy-metal history. After three albums that pushed the boundaries of extreme metal further than anyone else at the time, the Québecois foursome shifted gears entirely: Anarcho-punk, industrial, and krautrock had crept into the band’s sound to the point where they felt the need to create more space in the music to allow those sounds to bleed through. The speedsters in the metal scene didn’t know it at the time, but what they really wanted was Voivod’s eternal slowdown, and they got it in the form of their 1988 masterpiece, Dimension: Hatröss. Like Celtic Frost’s 1987 classic, Into the Pandemonium, it was a crucial lesson: In a genre as bent on extreme one-upmanship as heavy metal is, less can often be far, far more.

While

terminal Redux, the astounding new album from progressive thrash outfit Vektor, is profoundly influenced by the blazing speed and innovation of Voivod’s 1987 album, Killing Technology, it’s Magma, the sixth album by French band Gojira, that ingeniously tinkers with the Dimension: Hatröss model. What makes Magma so intriguing, though, is that nearly 30 years after Voivod’s groundbreaking creative leap, Gojira have collapsed every lesson into a more accessible package that may even warrant commercial success.

 

Gojira – Silvera

 

Led by the brothers Duplantier, guitarist/singer Joe and drummer Mario, Gojira have been on this trajectory for the past decade. Since 2005’s breakthrough, From Mars to Sirius, the band has experimented with atonality and minimalism, with a sly nod to Meshuggah’s muscular rhythm-riffing. Coming after 2008’s more progressive The Way of All Flesh, 2012’s L’Enfant Sauvage attempted to create a leaner sound without compromising what had become a unique signature style. It paid off, charting in the top 40 of the Billboard 200 and elevating the band into formidable headliners.

There were still plenty of kinks to work out, though, and on the leaner, extraordinarily concise Magma, you hear Gojira becoming even more fully realized. Always capable of clever songwriting, the Duplantiers, along with guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie, strip their distinctive sound down even further, most often building songs around one insidiously catchy riff and resisting self-indulgent flights of fancy. It’s common for young acts in modern metal to show astonishing technical skill but no sense of restraint. By contrast, there’s little else out there like the taut, minimalist Magma right now.

 

Gojira – Stranded

 

That sense of control is immediately apparent on opener “The Shooting Star.” Featuring a monstrous riff reminiscent of Far Beyond Driven-era Pantera, the song could easily shift into overdrive. Instead, they hold back like their forebears did in 1988, giving the music room to breathe, and allowing for a detached vocal performance by Joe Duplantier that bears yet another uncanny similarity to Voivod’s Denis “Snake” Belanger.

When the more intense moments do kick in, though, Gojira’s command and focus never wanes. “Silvera” juxtaposes gigantic, palm-muted crunching with lithe lead melodies, creating a sense of power and majesty. On “The Cell,” Mario puts on a three-minute drumming clinic while the string-bending riffs lurch away, before “Stranded” follows with its squealing riff, martial beat, and impassioned chorus. The strange discordance dominating the somber title track will wriggle into your consciousness before “Low Lands” brings the album to a stately climax, with Joe opting for positivity rather than tired doom and gloom: “In all there is to learn / The sun is on our side / And though you’re on the run / You will survive.”

While Voivod did achieve a spell of mainstream notoriety with the brilliant Nothingface by 1989 (remember when Faith No More and Soundgarden opened for them that year?), it’s their students who have followed their example and pushed their ideas into new echelons. It’s been a slow build, but if ever there was a moment that signaled the Gojira’s status as leaders in the continuing evolution of the genre, it’s now.

Gojira

Gojira is a heavy metal band from Ondres, France. The band was known as Godzilla until 2001. Gojira is composed of Joe Duplantier on vocals and rhythm guitar, his brother Mario Duplantier on drums, Christian Andreu on lead guitar, and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass. The band has produced five studio albums and three live DVDs.
They are known for their environmentally-themed lyrics and have gone from “utmost obscurity” to being mentioned regularly “amongst the genre’s leading new millennium upstarts”.
Gojira – OCEAN PLANET

YES!!! Gojira will be returning with a brand new album in spring 2016! It’s been the better part of a year since Gojira returned to the studio, but the wait will finally be over this spring. In a new clip posted by the French metal band, a mashup of live and studio footage announces the coming of Gojira’s sixth full-length effort.
Gojira – Studio Sessions

Gojira’s sound is not easily classifiable as they blend several styles. Genres that have been associated with Gojira are technical death metal, thrash metal, groove metal and progressive metal. Gojira has been influenced by metal artists such as Slayer, Sepultura, Death, Morbid Angel, Meshuggah, Tool, Metallica, Pantera, and Neurosis.
Gojira – Born In Winter 

The members of the band were raised in Bayonne, a city on the south west coast of France (Pyrénées-Atlantiques/French Basque Country). The surrounding scenic countryside and rugged coastline inspired Gojira’s interest in nature and the earth. Gojira uses its lyrics to spread its spiritual beliefs and concerns for the environment. They also cooperate with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to protect marine animals, especially dolphins, whales and sharks. Members from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are allowed to run a merchandise booth at Gojira gigs. In addition, Gojira is working on the Sea Shepherd EP with well-known musicians from the metal scene, including Devin Townsend. All proceeds from that project will go to the organization.
Gojira – Flying Whales (Live at Resurrection Fest 2014, Spain) 

Christy Lee