Ahhh. GOJIRA. I remember when I went to my first metal festival in 2006, the first band I saw was GOJIRA. I had never heard of them, I was still a rookie, but I was so so incredibly impressed and when I heard “Flying Whales” in that 40-minute show, I definitely was able to call myself a fan. A mere 15 years later, the band is celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut effort, “Terra Incognita,” originally released March 19th, 2001. What better occasion to dive back into their material, listen to their very first album, and see how the Grammy-nominated band has evolved since?
GOJIRA‘s discography has a couple of albums with a very distinct style, from “From Mars to Sirus” and “L’Enfant Sauvage” to the more recent “Magma.” Even the new tracks have the same creative approach. “Terra Incognita,” however, is an album where the French progressive death metal act were still exploring their sound and as such, the record is incredibly eclectic.
“Terra Incognita” focuses on a more traditional death metal approach, yet arguably, even for being primarily rooted in death metal, the album still bears elements of the band’s future, especially while thinking of the technical and progressive aspects of their sound. At its core, however, “Terra Incognita” is raw and extremely rough. Songs to remember from their debut effort are the opening track, “Clone” and a track that still often plays live, “Love.” Tracks like “04,” “5988 Trillions De Tonnes,” and “1990 Quatrillions De Tonnes” balance out the album with a less heavy sound. “Space Time” has probably the most recognizable future GOJIRA-like riffs, yet there are also some oddities that can only be described as experiments on this record, for instance, “Satan is a Lawyer” is probably one of the strangest GOJIRA tracks ever made and could have easily been left out; a similar problem can be found in the nu-metal infused “On the B.O.T.A.”
I think that sentiment somehow summarizes what the most problematic part of this album is: there are a couple of incredible treasures to be found on this album, but picking the right tracks for each studio effort is a process of being strict about quality. As such, the album comes across as fairly inconsistent at times, perhaps a bit too eclectic. Luckily, the band composed songs like “Deliverance,” “Lizard Skin,” “Space and Time,” “Clone,” “Fire is Everything,” and “Love”; all tracks that carry the first roots of that trademark GOJIRA sound. All-in-all, “Terra Incognita” shows that the four-piece still had to explore their identity and place in the metal scene, however, looking back to their entire discography, the seed was already there and now, the flower is blooming.
2. Lizard Skin
3. Satan Is A Lawyer
5. Blow Me Away You(niverse)
6. 5988 Trillions De Tonnes
8. Space Time
9. On The B.O.T.A.
11. Fire Is Everything
13. 1990 Quatrillions De Tonnes
14. In The Forest
Joe Duplantier – vocals, rhythm guitar
Christian Andreu – lead guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums