Roadrunner Records (2012)
With the "Wild Child", a fifth overall, but a third widely known album, Gojira goes back to the complexity of the classic "From Mars To Sirius". While the new album is brimming with fresh riffs and melodies and the songs are actually not quite as instantly catchy as on that album, or even subsequent "The Way Of All Flesh", "L'Enfant" is a missing link between the two predecessors.
However, references to Morbid Angel or Mastodon no longer make any sense, I hear more Tool (title track) and Meshuggah (the opener, "Liquid Fire", "Pain Is A Master"), this is a different band, after all. It's been 7 years since "...Sirius...", a stellar masterpiece that impressed Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) so much he took them on tour as support AND guest sang on their next album. It is also to that recommendation that I owe my running into this album in the middle of 2005, one of the best years of my life.
Even though I thought "...Flesh" was a great album as well it didn't quite hit me with the same power as the predecessor. This one does. What's more, if you loved the keyboard/electronic experiments introduced on "The Way..." but were not too crazy about some of the metalcore sounding moments, while loving "...Sirius..." for outstanding songwriting, you will love this new album. It has the edge and the climate of "...Mars..." and experiments and progression of "...Flesh" while retaining the superior songwriting of "...Sirius..."... Oh, you get the point. I feel the same excitement I felt 6 years ago when I first heard "Backbone", "From The Sky", "Ocean Planet" or "To Sirius" plus there're truckloads of melody that can rightly be called beautiful. Vocals have diversified and you don't need the booklet to decipher the lyrics, songwriting is top notch, bass loud, production a little mechanical but clear and punchy, some of the best sounding and original drums on any metal album, riffs are fresh and insane, melody abounds, what more do you want?
Highlights? Definitely the closer with superb percussion and melodic guitars, "Pain Is A Master" and "The Gift of Guilt" where the melody competes with the Pantera-ish yet death metal riffing with changes, twists and turns that put progressive back in Gojira's death metal. And really, who cares what genre these guys are? All I know is that they write superb metal with high replay value and surprises at every corner.
Why not 5.5 or 6? Well, overall, much like "The Way Of All Flesh" it does not have the same merciless crushing tonnage that made Meshuggah sound like "Load" (Metallica, 1996) in comparison. It retains all the best elements of "From Mars To Sirius" but with heaviness turned down a quarter of the dial, presumably in the name of progression ? Nevertheless, album is still plenty heavy, it's an incredible grower, and best of all, your father would still disown you if you played it at a family picknic, a requirement of any release with death metal connotations. And in the unlikely event that they happen to like it just play "Rapture" ("Covenant", Morbid Angel, 1993) if you don't ever want to hear from them again. Hell, they might even report you to Gestapo... I mean Homeland Security for that one, since David Vincent's vocals are intelligible enough to hear the lyrics!
As for Gojira, these incredibly talented Frenchmen progress fantastically and "L'Enfant Sauvage" is yet another top shelf release to be added to their already stellar catalogue.
Rating: 5 / 6
Composed by Dethster4life