Gojira + Code Orange + Car Bomb
Bristol 02 Academy
“Carlsberg don’t make metal tours, but if they did…”. Such comments were floating around on social media sites in certain metal circles in the run up to Gojira’s 2017 European tour.
There were discussions of whether this particular tour package is the best collection of metal bands our shores have ever seen. Such discussions aside, tonights trio of extremely heavy and thematically similar bands are actually also quite varied. They make for an exciting prospect as the crowd file in.
Car Bomb come out swinging from the very first note and while half the venue are still buying their Jager bombs or queuing for the cloakroom. This New York four piece’s sound is instantly reminiscent of tonights headliners, but with a healthy dose of added hardcore thrown in. Vocalist Michael Dafferner’s melancholic wails also conjure comparisons with Fear Factory, lending a welcome industrial vibe. It’s a successful mixture, setting the tech/death/prog tone for the evening and warming the crowd up a treat by the time they come off. They also get the nights first-of-many circle pits.
By the time Code Orange burst confidently onto the stage, several people have already been thrown out.Tonight they have brought with them an element of their burgeoning fanbase and it is a slightly different type of metal fan contingent to the headliners’. Among the leather and battle jacket clad trad-metal fans, the extreme and black metal die hards, stands the odd hardcore punk hero. Among the headbangers and moshers, stand the elbow throwers.
Needless to say, Code Orange’s music is violent. They create one wild ruckus, playing tracks mostly from their recent and much revered new album ‘Forever’, their set is impressively varied and at times downright epileptic. The hardcore heavy ‘Kill the Creator’ screams from breakdown to breakdown, changing pace at a moments notice with a mathy glee. While ‘Bleeding in the Blur’ see’s guitarist Reba Meyers on vocal duty, giving it a feminine quality to break up the machismo, while the stalking bassline makes the sinister track pound along to a rumbling groove.
They also summon a variety of influences; ‘The New Reality’ lurches to Carcass-esque death metal riffs while ‘Spy’ slices the air with a familiar Pantera imitating buzz saw guitar tone.
The band have a physical presence onstage, bassist Joe Golman is an imposing figure while he crashes about in front of Jamie Morgan’s drum set, as he in turn barks the lyrics, a sight that captures the attention. An audience’s attention tonight, the wider metal scenes attention tomorrow. One that is not likely to waver quickly.
Despite being around for over 20 years now, Gojira have long been criminally awaiting their break into the metal mainstream. 2016 saw that change, to see them becoming one of the most talked about bands in our world. With the exception of a few U.K festival performances last year, tonight feels like the proper long awaited U.K celebration of both their new popularity, and their new album ‘Magma’
Something that is very apparent from the start of their set is how seamlessly their new songs fit in with their back catalogue classics. New singles ‘Stranded’ and ‘Silvera’, while marking a change in their traditional sound, also are received with just as much adoration as the tried-and-tested fan favourites like ‘Backbone’ and ‘Flying Whales’
Their power and technical prowess are also remarkable. Their progressive dabblings shine through in their live performances, so that on occasion songs like ‘Terra Inc.’ that already push the boundary’s of modern extreme music, meld perfectly into the next track. It makes the whole experience feel like one big jamming session., where 1600 people have been invited to watch 4 French metal virtuoso’s at a band practice in their garage.
Each member of the band can be seen to expel as much energy as they can muster, and look like they are genuinely enjoying themselves. The grins on the faces of guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie for much of the set is a welcome injection of fun. Meanwhile, frontman Joe Duplantier’s inimitable roar inspires the attendant legion of followers to scream the words “I owe myself life!” right back at him during ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’.
Gojira’s many elements that make them so long revered amongst metal purists and so progressive in 2017 are all present and correct tonight: their death metal gumption is proven during ‘The Heaviest Matter in the Universe’. There proficiency for slow burning, acoustic beauty throughout Joe Duplantier’s post-encore guitar solo. But perhaps most strikingly, their inspiring eco-warrior status marking them out as a band with an environmental message, which rings loud and clear during the incredibly powerful ’Toxic Garbage Island’, an rage filled anthem for the damage being caused to our planet.
To speculate, perhaps Gojira are too extreme and musically challenging to become much bigger, or ever reach festival headline size. Even mainstream metal doesn’t have such a palate. But would we really want that? Part of their allure and part of the explanation for the huge respect and adoration afforded to them by almost the entire metal world, is their integrity. After 20 years they are still pushing the boundaries of technical death metal. While bands in our world that will remain unnamed are making one hater for every two fans, Gojira will always have a space on our patch jackets.
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