Summary

Now signed to the Roadrunner Records label that introduced the world to the brutal sounds of Sepultura, Machine Head, and Fear Factory, French metal quartet Gojira's fifth studio album, L'Enfant Sauvage, is as ferocious, frenetic, and fearless as anything their obvious influences have put their names to. Kicking off with the appropriately titled "Explosia," Joe Duplantier's tortured howls, brother Mario's pummeling beats, and Christian Andreu's shredding staccato riffs prove almost immediately that despite the recent talk of a more philosophical and personal record, they haven't mellowed since their major-label transition. Co-produced with Josh Wilbur, the follow-up to 2008's The Way of All Flesh sticks to a pretty similar breakneck speed throughout, but their fondness for the dramatic and their intriguing proggy tendencies ensure it avoids becoming too one-note. The surprisingly melodic "Born in Winter" ventures into brooding grunge territory with its twisted riffs before unleashing a typically bombastic Wall of Noise; the menacing "Pain Is a Master" lurches from propulsive thrash metal to sparse sludge-rock in five chaotic minutes; while the hugely unsettling "The Fall," one of the few tracks to approach their usual ecological subject matter, throws everything from vocodered sci-fi vocals to a distorted effect which resembles a neighing horse into its suitably doom-laden mix. There are even a few synths scattered about on the atmospheric instrumental "The Wild Healer." An utterly exhausting but consistently thrilling listen, L'Enfant Sauvage is arguably a career best which suggests Gojira have found their spiritual home. ~ Jon O'Brien