House of Blues Anaheim
The massive amount of people stuffed into the House of Blues in Anaheim for Saturday night’s performance by French heavy metal band Gojira was impressive, considering that evening in Southern California there were many other competing concerts, including several high profile punk, metal, industrial and even hip-hop events. Despite this, a healthy crowd of dedicated fans crammed to catch this exclusive and intimate concert by one of metal’s most talented, up and coming and passionate bands on the scene today.
For those in attendance, this packed concert was a treat. Gojira has been on tour opening for Metallica this summer in stadiums across North America, but tonight, instead of getting a roughly half hour set normally reserved for opening bands, the band performed for over an hour in Anaheim, and harnessed an energy from the venue that few groups are capable of. The band features guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier Guitar, his brother, drummer Mario, guitarist Christian Andreu, and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie. As a unit, the band creates a sound so intense and massive with layers of heaviness, density and pounding so loud from the bass and drums you could feel the vibrations and sound waves traveling through your chest cavity.
What has set Gojira apart from others in the metal world is their approach and sound of course but more than anything their lyrics and albums are what put them in a league of their own. Rather than the typical topics of the Occult, human mutilation or zombies, the band’s music displays knowledge and concern for the Earth and our natural environments. Rather than dark and violent Gojira’s presentation has been heavy, technical, mysterious, and urgent in nature, similar to the style of bands like Fear Factory, Tool, Opeth, Meshuggah, Deftones and Mastodon, to name a few. Gojira’s music is a bit of a contradiction in some sense. One hand it’s heavy and thunderous enough to form a mosh pit to, yet on the other hand it is haunting and somber enough to fall into a day dream or nap while listening to.
The walls of sound in the House of Blues was the perfect conduit for the musical electricity produced by the band. Gojira’s epic, chugging, mechanic and esoteric heavy metal music is in a category of its own. Although the band does use of breakdowns, it is not in the generic and over simplistic and rehashed form that all other metalcore bands use. They manage to weave an underlying groove and eerie guitar work into their music flawlessly, and it never seems forced or contrived. Fans have supported the band more and more in recent years but it has been in existence since 2001. With more and more recognition, including the critically acclaimed album, Magma, Gojira has been able to perform with some of the biggest and best metal bands, including Slayer, Metallica, and Iron Maiden, and everyone in between. Hard work and dedicated musicianship have paid off for the French metal band.
The pit began to open up and move on the House of Blues floor, for hit songs like “The Cell,” “Silvera,” “Stranded” and “The Shooting Star.” The set also included a sporadic drum solo, and a cogent cover of the classic Sepultura song, “Territory” from the 1995 album, Chaos A.D. You could feel every thumping sped up bass note, drum beat and , and guitar riff. One thing that was apparent to all at the House of Blues: this music is not negative. Despite the notes of aggression and heaviness, there were no hostile sentiments and fans could feel the positive vibes and energy stemming from frustration that Gojira’s music conveyed.
Opening bands ONI and Pallbearer provided quite the perfect soundtrack to wet fans’ musical appetite. ONI, is a Canadian metal band mixing extreme elements of death metal with a prog dent feel, adding the cool element of a Xylophone player a curious yet cool way to add melody. The band’s passion and energy were clear and present, and the unique addition of the Xylophone player stood out both in stage presence and sound. Arkansas based doom metal band Pallbearer offered fans a slightly indie rock and psychedelic tinged interpretation of doom metal, with hints of death metal and experimental music all laden throughout. Both acts, providing two varying experiences of heavy metal music before Gojira took the stage and gave fans their monies worth.