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“The bar has just been raised again”: Randy Blythe reviews Gojira’s Fortitude

Lamb Of God singer Randy Blythe was one of Gojira’s earliest champions. We asked him to deliver his verdict on their new album Fortitude



Fortitude, Gojira’s seventh studio offering, succeeds in achieving what very few metal albums do: without sacrificing a single ounce of earth- shattering heaviness (do I really even need to write that? You’re reading Hammer, so it’s a pretty fair guess you already know Gojira are fucking heavy), the album moves beyond the often self-imposed constraints of the genre into something entirely else. The palette of heavy metal is used to construct something more than metal: a gorgeous, dense, sonic painting of life itself.

“On the southwest coast of France, bordered on one side by the sea and the Pyrenees on the other, sits the tiny village of Ondres. There, down a tree-lined lane cut through a beautiful forest, is an ancient farmhouse filed with art. Behind that is an equally ancient stone barn filled with Gojira’s musical equipment.

“One day, 13 years ago, we left the house and barn in the forest and drove high into the Pyrenees to walk the hillsides and wander the Basque villages – the region is one of indescribable beauty. After hours of clearing our heads in the crisp mountain air, the sun began to set and we headed back down towards the coast. Suddenly, Joe [Duplantier] skidded over to the side of the treacherous dirt road we drove on, hopped out of our car, ran up to a tree, grabbed a handful of ripe cherries from its branches, and ran back, laughing hysterically. ‘We gotta get outta here quick before the farmer who owns that tree shoots us!’ he said, and we hauled ass down the mountain and to the sea, stuffing our faces with that delicious fruit the whole way…

“That is what Fortitude sounds like – ancient structures holding new art, ocean waves and mountain air, the thrill of illicit fruit as the sun sets at the end of a perfect day. Maybe you can envision that. Maybe not. It doesn’t really matter, because the bar that defines this genre has just been raised. Again.”