Throughout the 21st Century France's Gojira have become one of metal's biggest and most respected acts. This is down to them crafting a sound across several albums that's as crushing as you'd expect from a band named after the King of the Monsters with colossal, stampeding riffs which arrive in gripping groove. However, Gojira are also progressive and have a transcendent nature to their songs in progressive, reflective passages, which strengthens their sound making it easier for the listener to get lost in it. Last year's 'Magma' saw them at their most accessible yet, with more of a straightforward sound due more concise, less-technical songs, yet no less effective. They hit Leeds' O2 Academy tonight and are clearly so confident of their material that they've brought some of today's most promising metal bands to proceed them.
With a seemingly infinite amount of sporadic, loose, technical riffs that reek of Meshuggah worship, Car Bomb make for an excellent start to a metal show. They even get pits going early, which is never easy for an opening band and you'd have to be paralysed not to headbang or raise a fist to their tight rhythms.
Code Orange are a genuine phenomenon, or at the very least one in the making. Having put out the best heavy record of the year so far in 'Forever', a record which is concrete heavy but addictively memorable as well as being diverse and forward thinking. Despite the fact that they're playing a support slot watching them feels like a damn important moment in history.
The opening triple whammy of 'Forever', 'Kill The Creator' and 'My World' ignite pits which might not be as gigantic as the ones Gojira receive later, but are equally, if not more intense with obesely thick, yet athletically spry riffs, whipping people into frenzies where even Gojira's fans may be a bit taken aback. As for onstage, it's equally intense with each member gutturally screeching from different directions whilst guitarist Reba Meyers and bassist Joe Goldman are stomping and headbanging everywhere. When it comes to the infectious rock of 'Bleeding In The Blur' or the derelict, electronic plonking of 'The Mud' these songs are equally effective, the former feeling like it could have everyone in the room singing along to every word one day and the later making for an ominous, not-to-be-trifled-with immovable force.
You feel a bit sorry for Gojia wondering how they're going to match it, but they have no such problem and play like absolute pros. Opening with 'Only Pain' it's thrashy groove gets the majority of the room rushing forward and yelling along to every word. There's also some wirey guitar squeals, which help set Gojia apart from a lot of their contemporaries. The play a good chunk of 'Magma' and this material gets people moving all night, but the real strength of these songs is the spiritual element to them and how much you can get lost in them. A mistake a lot of metal bands make is thinking heavier simply equals better, but Gojira have patience and aren't afraid to take you on a little journey that may veer you away from the action, but you get lost in down these separate paths, which only lead you to another beating.
That being said, how nuts people go tonight shouldn't go unmentioned. When it comes to 'Flying Whales', after a few minutes of limp, sluggish build-up, where fans can be heard getting giddy for what's about to come, the brawn comes lumbering in and it feels like there's a whale rising out of sea the way there's just waves upon waves of people bouncing into the pit. Another highlight is 'L'Enfant Sauvage' which marries blistering chugs and pick sweeps with tingling, suspenseful jitters and where a lot of bands would struggle to balance these two different sides, Gojira makes it so one strengthens the other, with the muscle feeling all the more startling following passive notes. Again, this is Gojira giving you an out-of-body experience, before putting you back in ready to face anything. This is evident looking at the many people fearlessly slamming into each other and this doesn't let up for most of the night. The beauty of Gojira is that there's something for the spirt and something for the body. You can either be healed by the meditative aspect or by the full release of adrenaline.
It's rare with shows this big that supporting bands are talked about, if even remembered after the main event, but Car Bomb left a memorable impact and Code Orange played like this giant room was theirs and it would be a disservice not to talk about them at this point, especially when it made Gojira's set all the more impressive. It just goes to show that Gojira are at a point now where they can be in any setting, against any odds and still come out victorious. This show, along with the rest of the tour it's a part of, will be one future generations will be jealous they couldn't have witnessed.
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