Over the past year, the songwriting core of extreme-metal group Gojira – siblings Joe and Mario Duplantier, who handle vocals and guitar and drums, respectively – went through the wringer. Their intention was to relocate their base officially from Bayonne, France, to New York City, construct a studio and record the follow-up to 2012’s L’Enfant Sauvage. Joe managed to build Silver Cord Studio in Queens, but before long, life got in their way: The brothers put the sessions on hold when their mother got sick and eventually died. When they finally restarted the process, everything the brothers went through coalesced into a heavy, as-yet-untitled 10-track new record, due out this summer.
“We had a bitter taste about the album when everything was going on,” Joe says. “We’d say, ‘Fuck, what about the album? Fuck.’ It took us months.”
“But at the same time, it became the soul of the album,” Mario says. “We respect the fact that this album took a long time, because it’s full of emotion.”
It’s a cold, late December night and the brothers are sitting in the mixing room of Silver Cord with a couple beers, looking through tracks they’d made with fellow band members guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie, both of whom still live in France. A gray guitar sits in the corner. Tiny toy dinosaurs sit atop speakers. The logo for a Marshall amp has been clipped to say only “Mars,” perhaps as a nod to their breakthrough LP, 2005’s From Mars to Sirius. Joe, who has long brown hair, futzes about with a computer that makes the mixing desk’s faders fly. Mario, who wears a hat and seems generally more reserved, leans back and sips his beer.
Watch an exclusive teaser for Gojira’s forthcoming album, including new music:
Once they feel comfortable, Joe hits play on a song with the tentative title “Indiana,” as in “Indiana Jones.” Immediately, it’s clear the band has taken a different route with the album compared to past riff-fests. It begins with a taut, almost-industrial rhythm and brittle guitar line. “Another day in the dark,” goes one growly lyric, as the tune gives way to a thumping, mid-tempo groove. It ends with Joe singing a monk-like chant. When it’s done, Joe says, “It’s a bit nerve-racking playing it for someone,” and laughs nervously. He then cues up another song.
The next track opens with a heavier assault full of jackhammering drums before an almost Middle Eastern lead guitar line blares out. “Time to open your eyes to the genocide,” Joe sings, again not screaming, as the lead rings out. The main riff uncoils and retracts throughout the tune, complementing a rattling, almost vibrating guitar solo. When it’s done, Joe explains that the working title is “Silvera,” because it was the first song the band wrote since he’d opened Silver Cord.
“We always take a word and put ‘-a’ at the end,” he says. “For example, we did a song that sounded like Slayer one time and we called it ‘Slayera.'”
Joe and Mario loosen up, chatting with one another in French until the singer breaks into English explaining that they worked with 12 songs for the album before ultimately deciding on 10. “We want a short album,” he says. “Something less epic than what we usually do. People’s attentions are shorter now. So a lot of the songs are four minutes.” He then leans over the mixing desk and cues up another song in Protools.