The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019, The Real #1: Gojira, Magma
MetalSucks recently polled nearly 180 prominent metal musicians and industry insiders to determine The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019! (You can read all about the voters and the methodology behind the poll here.) Over the past few weeks, we counted down the entire list, one entry per day.
Despite the Morbid Angel fakeout earlier today, the countdown now concludes with Magma, the 2016 release by Gojira!
I clearly remember the first I heard Magma. To celebrate the album’s recent completion and pending release, the band’s label, Roadrunner, organized a listening party at Silver Cord Studio, the Brooklyn facility run by Gojira brothers and bandmates Mario and Joe Duplantier. A handful of members of the press and associates of the band milled about as we snacked on cheese and crudités, sipped red wine and caught up with one another before we were led into a room with a few rows of folding chairs set up in front of a large set of speakers. The label had even gone to the expense of printing full-color pamphlets containing the lyrics to all of the album’s songs. In other words, it was precisely the kind of event specifically tailored to elicit a favorable reaction.
Except “favorable” isn’t how most folks in that room felt after hearing Magma in full for the first ever. Confused might be more apt. This much was clear: Magma was more melodic than anything the band had done before, a departure from their earlier, heavier work, a bold step into a new frontier. And it had lots of — gasp! — clean singing! But did we like it? No one could say.
Ultimately the answer turned out to be yes. Gojira are a Great Band — that much was clear even before Magma — and here’s the thing about great bands: they change, they evolve, they move forward, they push themselves creatively. Gojira easily could’ve cranked out The Way Of All Flesh III or (L’Enfant Sauvage II, depending how you look at it), but to do so would have been to stagnate. Gojira had big goals, and on Magma they fully executed them — the album propelled them into an elite group of true headliners — but without a musical progression that wouldn’t have been possible.
“When you change yourself you change the world,” Joe Duplantier sings on “Silvera.” If that’s not the perfect example of what I’m talking about, what is? What’s most remarkable about Magma, and in particular that track, is how Gojira still sound so much like themselves despite such a noted sonic shift. It’s all still here — Joe’s tippy-tap guitar lines and full throated screams, Mario’s anatomy-defying drum onslaught, the full band’s impeccable sense of groove and that unidentifiable harmonic Gojira SOUND — it’s just framed a bit differently.
There was never a question in my mind, from the very time Axl and I saw them at Download Fest in the U.K. in 2006, that Gojira would end up being one of the biggest and best bands in the metal world. With Magma, Gojira convinced everyone else, too.
The 25 Best Metal Albums of 2010 – 2019:
#25: Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas, Mariner (2016)
#24: Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (2010)
#23: Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (2012)
#22: Yob, Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014)
#21: The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual (2011)
#20: Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun (2014)
#19: At the Gates, At War with Reality (2012)
#18: Meshuggah, Koloss (2012)
#17: Gorguts, Colored Sands (2012)
#16: Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax II: Future Sequence (2012)
#15: The Ocean, Pelagial (2013)
#14: Kvelertak, Kvelertak (2010)
#13: Judas Priest, Firepower (2018)
#12: Metallica, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016)
#11: Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
#10: The Dillinger Escape Plan, One of Us Is the Killer (2013)
#9: Rivers of Nihil, Where Owls Know My Name (2013)
#8: Deafheaven, Sunbather (2013)
#7: Baroness, Yellow & Green (2012)
#6: Power Trip, Nightmare Logic (2016)
#5: Ghost, Opus Eponymous (2010)
#4: Deftones, Diamond Eyes (2010)
#3: Behemoth, The Satanist (2014)
#2: Carcass, Surgical Steel (2013)
#1: Gojira, Magma (2016)