Review by Lilen Pautasso, as featured on New York webzine Puluche.com (http://puluche.com/reviews/gojira-lenfant-sauvage-87-5/)
L’Enfant Sauvage is the fifth studio album from acclaimed heavy metal band, Gojira. Translated into English as “The Wild Child,” this album was Gojira’s first on major label affiliated Roadrunner Records. Yet, while other bands have taken a notoriously commercial trajectory with major label support, the French quartet have utilized the advantages of a major label through the development of technically precise compositions, sharp production and further emphasis on the auditory quality of their music.
Setting aside inhibition, the band adopted a slightly new musical approach to their latest release, enhancing an already-commendable sonic identity. Synonymous with the album title, Gojira embodies a sense of wilderness through sonic representations of fear, euphoria and isolation. From the exuberantly ferocious “Explosia” to the ambient – almost gothic – “Born in Winter,” Gojira captures a turbulent journey enjoyed vicariously through an auditory concoction of transcending volumes, speed and technical skill. The compositions are sharp, unique and creative, drawing on repetitive but also versatile auditory patterns to achieve highly engaging creations. While some of the more repetitive parts of the album can become tiresome, Gojira always recapture a listener’s attention through a gripping rhythmic pattern or impressive feat on the electric guitar.
Conceptually L’Enfant Sauvage explores themes of lost humanity through inadvertent submission to a wilderness that comes close to defeating our physical and emotional limitations. “The Gift of Guilt” and “Pain is a Master,” are musically tumultuous as a result of highly technical feats on the drums and guitar. Together they are representative of a fight to regain a sense of humanity, further enhanced by an impressive vocal performance by Joe Duplantier. Through combinations of menacing screams and haunting clean passages, Duplantier does well to embody the album’s conceptual direction and prove that Gojira suits an addition of clean vocals.
Sonically, the album is held together by a faultless rhythmic backbone courtesy of drummer Mario Duplantier and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie. Commendably, Gojira have emerged successful in their transcendence from ‘all growling’ to a more progressive artistic direction – a direction that we can only hope continues for this continuously impressive band of Frenchmen.
It is difficult to see whether the transition to Roadrunner Records will continue to prove beneficial to Gojira. At this stage, while other bands have caved to commercial pressures from a struggling industry, the many benefits of a major label will more than likely result in greater capacities and exposure for a band that deserves nothing less.
(c) Lilen Pautasso 2013