Metal bands throwing in their lot with progressive music isn’t a new phenomenon – Opeth, Katatonia, Enslaved and more spring to mind – but when an act rightly hailed as one of heavy metal’s more extreme forerunners crosses the divide it does make you sit up and take notice. Signs have long hinted there’s more to French quartet Gojira than crushing brutality, and on Fortitude they throw caution to the wind, not just embracing a far proggier approach than before, but also aiming for the mainstream in a similar manner to Mastodon on Crack The Skye.
Not only are the likes of Sphinx, Amazonia and Into The Storm festooned with twisting, tricky prog metal riffs, but the elegant Hold On sounds like a revved-up outtake from 90125. The Trials is mesmeric and haunting, while the epic two-parter Fortitude/The Chant reaches for and attains bold new heights for the band. Vocally they steer clear of the growls, so often a bugbear for the more nit-picking progger, and the entire sound is one that should attract the band a far bigger audience than they’ve achieved thus far.
Fortitude isn’t just a very heavy album, nor Gojira’s proggiest yet. It’s easily the best album they’ve made to date.