Music Review: Gojira’s “Fortitude”

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Jack Nathanson, Guest Writer

Since their 2016 album MAGMA, Gojira fans have been eagerly awaiting a new record, and they finally have it. Fortitude, which was released on April 30, is the latest album by the French band Gojira.

The lyrics go in a completely different direction than MAGMA because when that album was released, brothers in the band Joe & Mario Duplantier were facing the death of their beloved mother. Fortitude, on the other hand, is more about standing up and being strong. These themes are very present throughout the 11 tracks present on this record.

The opening track, “Born for One Thing,” was the first single released to announce the album. It’s a monstrous song with heavy riffs, breakdowns, and even a pinch harmonic breakdown. This track was a solid first listen and opener to this record. “We were born for one thing!”

“Amazonia,” the second single, was released to bring awareness to the Amazon Rainforest. This song has a groove that goes all the way through it, and you can’t avoid bobbing your head when you hear it. The main riff is so simple yet so effective, and the chorus brings awareness to what’s happening: “The greatest miracle is burning to the ground.” The band also has a website where listeners can donate to the cause.

Originally released in 2020, “Another World” is an extra addition to the album. The song was originally released only as a single, intended to tell everyone that Gojira is back to making music. The song is now on the album, and the more I’ve been listening to it, I’ve been enjoying it more and more. The simple hammer-on and pull-offs, the melodic chorus, and the bass chugging along make for one great track.

The start of “Hold On” caught me off guard because it’s something Gojira has never done before, and I like it. It’s different, and it sounds wonderful. But then, at one minute and 40 seconds, The guitar comes in, leading to a chugging riff, with a heavy drum beat. Then Joe’s icon screaming comes in, and this song turns into a classic Gojira song—something you might hear on MAGMA or L’Enfant Sauvage.

“New Found” is an especially heavy song. Right off the bat, the listener experiences the classic Gojira pick scrapes, chugging, and screaming yet melodic vocals. Then there is the breakdown: halfway through the song, Gojira breaks things down and it gets really heavy. With pinch harmonics, chugging, and scrapes, this track definitely has a “Flying Whales” feel to it. At four minutes and 30 seconds in, the chugging gets heavier, and the headbanging gets more intense. Overall, “New Found” is a fantastic track.

The title track, “Fortitude,” is less of an actual song and more of a bridge into the next track, “The Chant.” The transition from “Fortitude” to “The Chant” is so cool, and the two songs blend perfectly. It also acts as a midpoint in the album, so it’s the perfect time to relax after the intense headbanging the listener has sure endured.

“The Chant” is definitely made for crowd participation. The huge open “Ahhhs” throughout the song and the large choruses allow for the listener to sing along. The main riff is heavy but also melodic, which is a balanced mix of the two elements. The song also features something never before seen in a Gojira song: a guitar solo. Christian Andreu rips and shows that he is a great player—up there with some of the greats of metal guitarists. This moment is a great new idea for the band, and I could see this being awesome at concerts.

The next song, “Sphinx,” is probably the heaviest track on the album, right next to “Grind,” a later song. Right from the start, it gets very heavy, with pick scrapes, chugs, and screaming—anything a Gojira fan could want. The vocals are deep and heavy. This song makes my guitar fear for its life—it’s heavy and monstrous, and that’s my kind of song.

The drum work in “Into the Storm” is out of this world. This is indubitably Mario’s song on the record. The drums come in immediately with a chugging train-like sound, and then we reach a heavy Meshuggah-type breakdown, similar to the Swedish metal band’s song “Bleed.” The guitar work here is great too, the chorus is melodic and powerful, and the drums here stick out. All in all, “Into the Storm” is an amazing track.

“The Trails” is the calm song on the album. The relaxing mood in this track is very nice. The guitar work here is great too, with tons of tapping and harmonics. Joe’s melodic singing is great, and the drums here set a nice tone that fits well in the track. The bass work here is what stands out though—Jean doesn’t get as much credit as he should. His playing on this track is superb.

The album closes with “Grind,” and right from the beginning, we hear blast beats, chugs, and screeching harmonics. The chorus is simple but effective. “Grind” is right next to “Sphinx” as the heaviest song. It’s also a great closer to the album—it’ll song will make you surrender to the grind. Later, there is a melodic, calm section, which is just simply beautiful.

I love this album. Gojira has yet to disappoint me, and I don’t think they ever will. I even bought this album on vinyl the day it came out, and it sits on my bedroom wall right now. Gojira has been one of my favorite bands for the longest time, and that’s not changing anytime soon. I rate this record with five out of five stars.