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Gojira tends to operate in polar extremes. “I can’t help but see humanity as a parasite,” Gojira’s co-founding guitarist and principal songwriter Joe Duplantier explains, “and yet the most beautiful things come out of humans.” To that end, the French quartet— Duplantier and his brother Mario [drums], Christian Andreu [guitar], and Jean-Michel Labadie [bass]—have spent
the past 15 years translating this duality into a distinctive sound: dark, crushing metal brightened by triumphant arena-rock melodies, contrast-heavy and emotionally charged. Enter 2016’s Magma, whereupon Gojira found strength—and crossover success—through a
singular commitment to self-reflection. The intensely personal record, penned in memory of the Duplantier brothers’ late mother, was a painful significant turning point for the French group. It debuted at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 chart, topped the Billboard “Hard Rock Albums” chart (a first for a French band), and netted nominations for Best Rock Album and Best Metal Performance (for “Silvera”) at the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Numerous global headlining tours, including a stint with Metallica, followed. Coming out of Magma, Gojira weren’t just one of the biggest metal bands on the scene— they were one of biggest rock bands in the world, unified and self-emboldened.
And so, Gojira made a group decision: for album number seven, Fortitude, they’d have some damn fun. In late 2019, the brothers Duplantier returned to Silver Cord Studio, their Ridgewood, Queens, headquarters, to begin work on new, self-produced Gojira material, culled from ideas they’d developed over the past two years. “With this album, we wanted to come back with more
joy, more power, and more positivity about life in general,” Joe explains. “We’re so lucky to do what we love; it’s not like we were depressed or anything, but we had something in our system to express Magma— and we felt like it was time for something else— something that is all about strength.”
”The writing process was very thrilling and exciting,” Mario adds. “Joe and I really dug deep into every song, paying particular attention to the structures and arrangements. Every idea, every single riff, was analyzed with a fine-tooth comb: everything from the tonality of each instrument and scales used, to the dynamics, interpretation, and tempo. We left nothing to chance. ” Of course, 2020 had other plans. Just as Fortitude was nearing completion— halfway through the mixing process, to be exact— COVID-19 hit, bringing Gojira, along with the rest of the world to an abrupt halt. While waiting out the lockdown back home in France with his family,
Joe re-examined the songs from a post-pandemic perspective; not only did they fit the turmoil of the time, in hindsight, they were downright prophetic. “In a way, I saw these songs being born again with a new meaning,” he says. “Every single song ever written resonates differently these days, but it’s almost like we felt like this was going to happen.”