8. Gojira, 'Magma'
Celebrated French prog-metal quartet Gojira abruptly changed directions on their sixth album, dialing back their technical excesses in favor of a more streamlined, straightforward approach. The uncharacteristically groove-oriented results – and the Pantera-meets-Pink-Floyd sound of songs like "The Shooting Star," "Silvera" and the title track – certainly alienated some longtime fans. But the visceral, hard-punching music turned out to be a surprisingly apt vehicle for Joe Duplantier's cathartic vocals and emotional lyrics (reportedly inspired by the illness and death of his mother), while the atmospheric epic "Low Lands" and the spare acoustic instrumental "Liberation" closed the album with a nod to the possibility of a greater cosmic truth beyond the grit and pain of earthly existence. D.E.