Production, arrangements and cover art by Joe Duplantier. Engineered by Johann Meyer. Additional engineering by Brian Montgomery, Dan Malsch, Jorge Tavares, Jamie Uertz, Taylor Bingley, Morgan David, and William “Billy” Knauft. Mastered by Ted Jensen. Mixed by Andy Wallace.
This album has been in my ‘to review’ list for the last two years, so I decided to simply use June to clear that backlog of various other albums that I’d wanted to review.
Fortitude (2021) is the seventh studio album from French metal band Gojira, named after the Japanese name for the monster Godzilla.
Gojira were one of those bands that had always been on my radar—I knew they existed—but I had never really paid them much attention. Until one day in 2020, I was looking for something new to listen to and remembered that I’d wanted to check out Gojira. I started with their then-latest album Magma (2016) and within two months, I had bought their entire back-catalogue plus one live album.
The first track from Fortitude (2021) I heard was “Amazonia” (track 2), a song that bounces along with that distinctive Jew’s harp pedal note, a tribal feel and catchy chorus. On the album, it immediately follows “Born for one thing” (track 1) which opens with an ascending harmonic riff and soon settles into a complex groove of layered bass, guitar and vocals.
The first half of this album is packed with new ideas, each tinged with that distinctive Gojira sound: the swirling riff for “Another world” (track 3), the choral introduction to “Hold on” (track 4), the squealing, whammy pedal-tastic riff to “New found” (track 5).
The quiet, reflective and acoustic title track “Fortitude” (track 6)—like the Gojira equivalent of Soulfly’s self-titled tracks—with a crowd chant that carries into “The chant” (track 7) is a milestone marker on this album.
Beyond these two tracks, other than the closing track, the remaining “Sphinx” (track 8), “Into the storm” (track 9) and “The trails” (track 10) sadly feel less distinctive, and a little like filler tracks, as though the band has run out of ideas and interest.
After that three-track come-down, album closer “Grind” (track 11) bursts into life with a surprising energy and freshness, and although it gradually slows and fades out to a laid back groove, it’s a welcome end to an album that I greatly anticipated.
For all the innovation in the first half of this album, really the only stand-out song for me is “Amazonia” with the spinning riff of “Another world” a close second. The remainder of the album, in many places, feels pieced together from the leftover riffs of previous releases. On one hand, that’s a little disappointing… on the other, it’s still Gojira—and I’ll take mediocre Gojira over many another band any day of the week. This album still warms my heart.
Review score: 70%