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Gojira - Terra Incognita CD (album) cover

TERRA INCOGNITA

Gojira

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

2.99 | 43 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars After spending the latter half of the 90s beginning with their formation as Godzilla, this band from Bordeaux, France changed their name to the Japanese romaji pronunciation of Godzilla which became GOJIRA just before the release of their debut album TERRA INCOGNITA (Latin for 'unknown land') in 2001. While the band was founded by brothers Joe (vocals, guitars) and Mario Duplantier (drums) along with Christian Andrea (lead guitarist) and Alexandre Cornilon (bass), Cornion would be replaced by Jean-Michel Labadie before the first album which has been the same lineup to the present day. While these guys began their journey as a rather run-of-the-mill death metal band with some groove and alternative elements, around the turn of the millennium the floodgates opened and they began adding more progressive and experimental elements to the mix and by the time they debuted their first album, they had acquired a rather unique style in the crowded world of extreme metal.

While still Godzilla, the band cranked out several demos that clearly showed their ties to the thrash metal world of early Metallica, the groove metal world of Pantera and the early thrash likings of Slayer and Sepultura. Somewhere around the time of the name change to GOJIRA though, something happened with the addition of Labadie and the band found an effectively unique chemistry which allowed them to hone their craft rather quickly. TERRA INCOGNITA expands beyond the Morbid Angel death metal with thrash and groove elements and adds alternative, some industrial and even enters progressive metal territory although on this debut they would not be fully ripe in that department for a couple more albums. Despite the lack thereof in comparison to future releases however there are many signs of unorthodox compositional constructs, interesting time signature changes and playful polyrhythms laced with tempo shifts and unexpected deviations from the norm.

While later more progressive albums such as 'From Mars To Sirius' embark on highly progressive workouts wrapped up in a cloak of conceptual storytelling, TERRA INCOGNITA is more of a collection of extreme art metal tracks that are often stylistically unrelated but nevertheless provide glimpses into the expanding progressive tentacles reaching out in myriad directions. Tracks vary in style and approach but crunchy alternative metal riffing in tandem with death metal blastbeat drum abuse is a common strategy for eking out the extreme aggressive fury that GOJIRA so deftly crafts into metal magic none of which is absent on album number one. TERRA INCOGNITA is laced with addictive guitar riffs that are repetitive in nature but vary distinctly from one track with some being bantering bass lines and others registering high in the upper treble range. The bass often provides a groovy counterpoint to the guitar riffing and Mario Duplantier's drumming skills are of the highest magnitude as he attacks the skins in a multitude of playing styles ranging from the straight forward metal beat to full-fledged jazz infused technical workouts.

While Joe Duplantier's vocals typically are utilized in the growly death metal style, he occasionally contrasts with clean vocals as well as semi-spoken segments. I seem to be on the opposite side of the fence than most regarding GOJIRA's under appreciated debut release TERRA INCOGNITA. True that it is not as sophisticated as the more illustrious masterpieces that would follow but taken on its own, this is one extremely tight unit of one brilliant track after another. There is a more freeform 'anything goes' approach to TERRA INCOGNITA. There is the instrumental workout on '04' which takes a siesta away from the death metal brutality and creates a counterpoint workout on strings (as well as other ambient breaks), there is the Korn-esque nu metal sound heard on 'Blow Me Away You(NIVERSE)' as well the strange hypno-space trance interlude of '5988 Trillions De Tonnes.' Also on board is the strange alternative / thrash riffing hybridization of 'Space Time' and bizarre guitar licks that begin tracks such as 'On The B.O.T.A.' GOJIRA really knew how to mix and match various metal elements that leave you wondering exactly what's going on. While this is death metal at its core, it is so much more varied than the average band in the genre. Perhaps too weird for the uninitiated but if you approach this more as extreme death art metal than you would be on the right track. I find this one to be underrated and misunderstood. Excellent debut by this one of a kind band from France! I really love listening to this one.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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