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.
Humbled and honored as he was by Magma’s success, Duplantier came out of that victory lap feeling exhausted—and eager to move on. “Magma marked a sad moment in our lives,” Joe says of the record. “We were expressing grief, so it was a bit heavy: not only to the process of making that album, but also talking about it, and playing the songs, and doing all of these interviews around a difficult time in our lives.”
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.”
To be clear, Fortitude isn’t intended as a musical escape hatch from all this unending global misery. Actually, it’s the opposite: a series of searing motivational speeches urging humanity to imagine a new world—and then make it happen. “Come on! Get back on your feet! Go for it!” Joe says of the album’s themes, briefly stepping into the role of life coach. “Everyone wants to hear that once in a while, and we want to be that to people: the little voice in your head that says you’re a fucking badass, and that you can do it.”
First single “Born For One Thing” kicks off the album in typical Gojira fashion: hyper-focused but unhinged, confrontational and yet compassionate. “We have to practice detaching ourselves from everything, beginning with actual things,” Joe says of the song’s anti-consumerist message, which was partially inspired by the Tibetan and Thai philosophers he read in his youth back in France. “Own less possessions, and give what you don’t need away, because one day we’ll have to let everything go, and if we don’t, we’ll just become ghosts stuck between dimensions.”
Gojira pivot to more earthly concerns on “Amazonia,” a lush ripper interwoven with indigenous folk instruments and Sepultura-inspired groove-metal rhythms. The soundscapes skew verdant, but the themes prove anything but idyllic, as Duplantier surveys the endangered Amazon rainforest, concluding: “The greatest miracle/ Is burning to the ground.” Proceeds from the song will benefit the indigenous Guarani and Kaiowa tribes, continuing Gojira’s career-long tradition of harnessing their music as a vehicle for environmental activism (their partnership with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society goes back over a decade). “We don’t want to just release a song called “Amazonia”—we want to do something on top of that,” Joe explains. “We feel a responsibility as artists to offer a way for people to take action.”
The album-long call to action comes to a head with “The Chant,” a slow-burning track singled out by Mario as Gojira’s most melodic material to date. Where past anthems were driven by nuanced dynamics and technical guitar arrangements, “The Chant” is a self-described “healing ritual” emanating primordial warmth, culminating in a harmony-stacked chorus that bridges the gap between ancient hymnals and contemporary rock. Consider Joe’s two-word rallying cry in the refrain—“Get strong!”—Fortitude’s mantra, as well as the band’s mission statement heading into this new, uncertain decade. Gojira struggled; Gojira persevered; Gojira rose. Now, it’s our turn…and the soundtrack is at the ready.
For some it was all of the live energy, for others it may have been the massive sleeper success of their 2016 LP but whatever it may be, Knocked Loose’s arrival in the general public consciousness transcends metal and hardcore and into a new arena entirely.
Due on August 23rd, 2019 via Pure Noise Records, A Different Shade of Blue is the mammoth and hotly anticipated follow-up to their 2016 debut, the head-turning Laugh Tracks. Recorded by producer Will Putney, the new LP was approached slower and more methodically than the band’s last smash effort, abandoning the previous “live in studio” recording approach for something more deliberate. Under Putney’s direction, the band cranked out twelve new tracks that deal with all manner of anger, especially loss in lieu of absence. Vocalist and lyricist Bryan Garris initially felt blocked heading into the studio but eventually found catharsis, as well as some of his most intensely personal lyrics to date.
Forged on musical bonds built at an early age, Knocked Loose came together in the small yet relatively formidable hardcore / punk scene of the greater Louisville, KY area– the same that gave birth to bands ranging from Slint to Breather Resist to Endpoint to Coliseum. And though said scene was relatively strong, a lack of available bands, touring parties and scarcity of gigs forced diversity– mixing genres and challenging young ears with new ideas, approaches and styles. That diversity – death metal bands mingling with youth crew, screamo on the same bill as Am-Rep-style bands and on and on– created the basis of Knocked Loose musically and the genesis for their approach, an amalgam of heavy influences that never commits to any singular style but maintains a loyalty to the hardcore tradition.
While A Different Shade of Blue reflects the diverse musical influences and backgrounds of Knocked Loose, it also ups the ante. On the new effort, the quintet come harder with a more fine-tuned approach toward songwriting, riffs that would make Trey Azagthoth blush and an added level of vein-bulging fury to tie it into one nasty package. Featuring guest vocals from Emma Boster of Dying Wish and Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, A Different Shade of Blue is not only a step forward for the band, but for hardcore as we know it. While some musical influences are easily identified–Pantera, Hatebreed, Obituary and more– the band’s palette and canvas has expanded by leaps and bounds, incorporating Gothenburg-style death metal (At the Gates, early In Flames), slam metal (Devourment,
Dying Fetus), blood-thirsty thrash (Sodom, Kreator), black metal (Craft) and the mind-boggling complexity of latter noisy hardcore like Snapcase and Bloodlet. Spanning twelve tracks, including the massive single “Mistakes Like Fractures” which reared its ugly head in April via 7” single, A Different Shade of Blue clocks in at a lean and mean 37 minutes, grabbing the listener by the throat from the jump and slowly tightening that grip for the duration.
Knocked Loose is the obvious evolution to decades of bands like Integrity, Disembodied, Botch and others– total and complete integration between metal and hardcore into a singular, seamless entity. Since its inception, hardcore has evolved from the germ of “Slayer actually has punk parts” to crossover to the addition of everything from death metal to rap to shoegaze. Knocked Loose is the proverbial fish walking on land– the end of the evolution, and possibly the apex of the metallic hardcore punk movement thus far. Ably combining the teeth-clenching hatred of a hardcore band with the unmitigated technicality and ferocity of metal, Knocked Loose have conceived state of the art hatred– a true melting pot of ideas that combines pit-ready riffs, memorable songwriting and deviously clandestine melody into a boiling-over pot of vitriol.
Since 2016’s Laugh Tracks, Knocked Loose, comprised of the young Cole Crutchfield (rhythm guitar), Bryan Garris (vocals), Isaac Hale (lead guitar), Kevin Otten (bass) and Kevin Kaine (drums), have taken a huge leap, moving from upstart hardcore-influenced favorites to bonafide key figures of the genre. Their debut offering was a revelation, taking the world by storm and establishing the band as a major force within metal, hardcore and beyond. Following the well received effort, Knocked Loose hit the road and hard. The band is quick to single out turning point tours such as Warped Tour 2017, a stellar showing at This is Hardcore 2018, headlining gigs over the legendary Terror and Australia/Japan tours as crucial to their growth, and while that may be partially true, the real key component to their success lies beneath all of that– a strong attention to excellent songwriting and a near-undying work ethic.
Knocked Loose have doubly proven their ability to write a cohesive and compelling record, and the band is looking forward to proving themselves yet again at live gigs across the globe, fan by fan. It’s this single-minded, borderline-stubborn attitude to take the songs directly to the people that has driven this band from the get-go.
Alien Weaponry are “one of the most exciting young metal bands in the world right now” according to Revolver Magazine in the USA. And they’re not the only ones who think so. Since well before they released their debut album Tū in 2018, fans, bloggers, the music industry and the media worldwide have raved about Alien Weaponry’s unique blend of thrash metal and Te Reo Māori (the native language of New Zealand).
Brothers Lewis de Jong (guitar and lead vocals) and Henry de Jong (drums) formed the band in 2010 when they were 8 and 10 years old. Ethan Trembath (bass guitar) joined in 2012 to complete the lineup; although he retired in 2020 after struggling with the extensive overseas touring schedule that he could see was “only going to get more intense as the band grows.” Trembath was replaced by Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds, a former schoolmate of the de Jong brothers.
The three-piece from Waipu, New Zealand, deliver emotionally and politically charged stories of conflict and grief with a warrior-like attitude. Drummer Henry de Jong says, “Our musical style and messages have a lot of similarities with haka, which is often brutal, angry and about stories of great courage or loss.”
The de Jong brothers are of Ngati Pikiāo and Ngati Raukawa (Māori tribal) descent; and began their schooling at a kura kaupapa Māori (full immersion Māori language school), where singing waiata (songs) and performing haka were a daily routine. Also ingrained in their early learning were stories of New Zealand history told to them by their father, who, alongside the story telling, played them music from Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Anthrax, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is this combination of music, language, history and socio-political commentary that underpins the band’s sound and ideas. New bass player Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds is also of Māori descent, with Ngāti Rarua, Ngāti Wai and Ngāti Hine tribal affiliations.
In the past 2 years, Alien Weaponry have supported Slayer, Anthrax, Ministry and Black Label Society across Europe and North America, as well as opening for Prophets of Rage in Auckland, New Zealand. They have sold out headline shows in New Zealand, Australia, all over Europe, the USA and Canada; and played main stage sets to record crowds at some of the biggest and most prestigious festivals around the world. These include Wacken Open Air and Summer Breeze (Germany), Download UK and Bloodstock Open Air (UK), Hellfest (France), MetalDays (Slovenia), Download Sydney and Download Melbourne (Australia), Tuska Open Air (Finland) and Copenhell (Denmark), where an impressive crowd of 6,000+ Scandinavian fans welcomed the band to the festival stage with a pre-rehearsed haka.
In New Zealand, Alien Weaponry has won multiple awards, starting with their double win at Smokefreerockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats in 2016. In 2017, they won the APRA Maioha Award for their song ‘Raupatu;’ and were finalists in the APRA Silver Scroll Award (‘Urutaa’); the Waiata Māori Awards for Best Music Video (‘Rū Ana Te Whenua’); and the Vodafone NZ Music Awards for Best Māori Artist. In 2018, they were finalists in the Vodafone NZ Music Awards in six categories, taking home the Tui for Best Rock Artist, while the producers of Tū won the Best Producer award.
Following the release of their debut album Tū, Alien Weaponry’s single ‘Kai Tangata’ rocketed to no.1 on the prestigious ‘Devil’s Dozen’ countdown for the Liquid Metal show on New York-based Sirius XM, where it remained for 13 weeks. The video for ‘Kai Tangata’ was the ‘Most Added Metal Song’ for June 2018 on US Cable Channel Music Choice (delivering to 50 million households) and has had nearly 6 million views on YouTube since its release.
More recently, Alien Weaponry found their songs and album on countless ‘Best Of The Decade’ lists by various publishers and in December 2019 the readers of Finnish Magazine Tuonela voted ’Tū’ all the way to the top of their ’The Best Albums of the Decade’ list – with Gojira’s ’Magma’ and Tool’s ‘Fear Inoculum’ in at second and third respectively. “The debut album sounds like a new breed of crossover, replacing speed by groove, but [still] remaining deeply rooted in the thrash metal scene,” said Tuonela Magazine of Tū.
Currently working on material for their sophomore album, 2020 is promising to turn into another groundbreaking year in the band’s career. Lewis de Jong says, “We’re so excited to be returning to Europe and the UK for our third summer – we’ve always got such an awesome reception from fans there. We’re also massively looking forward to unleashing some sonic mayhem with our new album later this year.”
The band is managed internationally by Rick Sales Entertainment (also representing Slayer, Gojira, Mastodon and Ghost); and has a worldwide distribution deal with Napalm Records. They are represented by Pinnacle Entertainment (also representing Slayer, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Noel Gallagher) in North America and UK-based K2 touring agency (also representing Metallica, Iron Maiden, Mastodon, Ghost and Gojira) in the rest of the world.