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Review: Gojira’s Stunning Sauvages DVD/CD/Book

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Think back to the time before affordable gear for your home theater. In those days, a listener would pop in a VHS of, say, Iron Maiden’s Live After Death and spend a hundred minutes squinting at a small, soft image and half-rocking to a pathetic TV speaker. The hugeness of an arena production, the output of banks of speakers, and the sensory blitz of lights, motion, contact, and sound were all squished down into a tiny little squeak box.

But just as advances in technology have dented sales of recorded music (and its accompanying industries), those same leaps have made it easier — nay, possible — to achieve a respectable concert film. And if Live After Death goes in our time capsule of 1980s metal essence, into this decade’s may go Gojira’s taut, lively new DVD Les Enfants Sauvages (Roadrunner). From production to presentation, LES can represent the new era of a great look and the substance to match. You’ll want to find a way to watch it in the dark and loud as hell.

Against a modest backdrop, the men of Gojira drive the action of LES; going in, a viewer expects to stare at the Duplantier brothers (at front and rear stage, respectively), but the twist is that bassist Jean-Michel Labadie dazzles. His smily vibe travels right off your screen and fills the room, and you need not take it on faith that he’s marching in lockstep with the rest of Gojira down a collapsing staircase — his bass is audible and sounds awesome. But like any memorable feature, while you’re falling for its cast, you find its most formidable asset is its dialogue. Big and beautiful like Sepultura and Tool, a Gojira composition is a Tokyo commuter train, supple and gliding, a symbol of mastery of supra-human girth and the intelligence of engineering, the wonder of movement and a respect for the journey. Gojira even makes it jump tracks to start the final third of LES when the Duplantiers switch roles for a sweet jam.

While the ear and eye are riveted by crystalline sonics and a crowd-surfer’s-eye view — and by the LES photo book that you flip through once or twice — your emotions eventually get stirred. Such is the plotting of a set list that draws from at least two modern classic albums, all delivered with the friendly strut of France’s new wave: Gojira, Benighted, Heart Attack, Insain, Aosoth, Alcest, and Ethersens — not to mention Quebecois black metal studs Neige Eternelle, Monarque, and Cultes Des Ghoules — all vibe a fearlessness that throws America’s sweaty compulsion to please into sharp relief. So by “Toxic Garbage Island” and “Wisdom Comes,” a viewer might get choked up, overwhelmed by the sight and sound whose forceful beauty rushes down the passages to the heart that are open only because of trust for that fearlessness, and thanks to full engagement with a DVD that’s perfectly simple like music itself, clear and present like real life, and awesome like Gojira.

Gojira’s Les Enfants Sauvages CD/DVD/Photo book set is out Tuesday, March 11th. Pre-order the bundle with fancy t-shirt here. Watch “Flying Whales” here.

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