Gojira

Terra Incognita

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This album's title isn't entirely accurate, as Gojira aren't exploring totally unknown territory. If you like Tool and/or Meshuggah, these Frenchmen are gonna make you very happy. They also owe something to death metal and the "groove metal" sound of acts like Pantera and Lamb of God, but they've got a crispness and an impressive clarity to their crunching riffs that's all their own. This album's sound is phenomenal, especially when one considers that it's their debut, recorded in 2000 when nobody had any idea who they were. (They wouldn't make their breakthrough until 2005's From Mars to Sirius, at which point they were the toast of the metal world, consolidating that achievement with 2008's brilliant The Way of All Flesh.) There are a few unnecessary tracks and clumsy moments here, like the bass-solo interlude "04" and the almost-rapped sections of "Satan Is a Lawyer," but when the band gets into the ultra-heavy, rhythmically precise crunching that's their trademark (well, that and the high-pitched Dimebag Darrell-style guitar squeals that also make numerous appearances here), they show exactly where they're heading, even if they haven't quite shrugged off the influence of straight-ahead death metal as much as they will on the follow-up, 2003's The Link.

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