Originally written by Ramar Pittance
A thunderous and intrepid mixture of modern extreme metal styles. It’s overlong in some points and underwritten in others, but there’s brilliance here as well. For fans of Strapping Young Lad, Messhugah, Darkane, and Morbid Angel…
How’s your schedule looking? You’d better clear it out if you even want to consider getting into this album. It’s massive, in every way – a truly draining experience. Taking the thundering production of Strapping Young Lad, the soaring choruses of Darkane, the stuttering rhythm section of Messhugahand the eerie melodic sensibilities of Morbid Angel, Gojira’s From Mars to Sirius is in many ways a true triumph for modern metal. In others, it’s simply an hour plus of recursive punishment that borders on total audience alienation.
“Ocean Planet” begins the album with the standard variety of cattle-press-heavy slam riffage common among Morbid Angel and their descendants. But, what is really interesting is that Gojira punctuate each riff section with bright, almost hopeful sounding melodies that grant passages with the ever so rare hint of originality. The fluidity with which the group transfers from monolithic pounding to twinkly eyed strumming is impressive and it’s done without that kind of “aren’t we so clever” self awareness that relegates most bipolar heavy metal to the gimmick bin. Brought to a conclusion by a soaring melodic chorus (ala Darkane) and another grinding, harmonics littered slam riff, “Ocean Planet” is a meticulously crafted tune that sets a high standard for the rest of the album. “Backbone” sounds like a cool-off track. It’s heavy, straightforward and tight as hell, but not nearly as diverse or challenging as “Ocean Planet.” This is basically the kind of tune you bang your head to while you wait for things to get interesting again, and they do. “From the Sky” exists almost entirely outside the realm of death metal, but still is oppressively heavy. The bulk of the song is carried by a riff that sounds like Strapping Young Lad conjuring Buried Inside. That may sound like a stretch, but imagine the lumbering and almost subversively melodic progressions found on Chronoclast being produced by Devin Townsend and sung over by Andreas Sydow (Darkane). It’s just a hodge podge of styles that have made post 1998 heavy metal exciting to me, and I love it. “Where Dragons Dwell” strikes again with a host of heart-wrenching melodies that I didn’t even realized were allowed to play so well in music this aggressive without sounding overly studied or forced. It’s another song marked by a fullness of composition that shows the band layering all the right vocal harmonies over robust power chords to create a really memorable listening experience.
I gush because From Mars to Sirius hits sort of a rough patch after “Dragons.” Here we get a series of songs that are dominated by the goddamn nuclear rhythm section but simply lack the depth of the album’s earlier tracks. I’m almost saddened to find myself drifting away from songs like “The Heaviest Matter on the Universe (damn near, actually)” The one two punch of songs that each flirt with eight minutes (“Flying Wheels” and “In the Wilderness”) are exhausting. The pristine production that renders the songs with such knee-to-groin precision makes staying on board for this mini-marathon too much of a task. Basically, these songs are out of my league as a music appreciator.
Fortunately, things get out of chug mode and begin to recover on “World to Come.” It’s subdued throughout, and just the break needed after the sustained punishment of the prior two tracks. The album concludes on a strong note. While, never quite fulfilling the promise shown on songs like “Ocean Planet” and “Where Dragons Dwell,” there’s a diversity in the songwriting severely missing in the album’s middle section.
Ultimately, there are some people who I would wholeheartedly recommend this album to. I dropped a lot of names in this review, and if you’re into most of them, then get into Gojira. I also know a lot of readers and fans who are turned off by anything remotely modern, and you people need to avoid this album. I can’t guarantee that everyone who listens toFrom Mars to Sirius will be blown away, as despite its promise and occasional brilliance, it’s a flawed album. It’s about 15 minutes too long and deceptively lazy at points. HOWEVER, there’s some stuff on this album that is mind blowing and damn near revolutionary, and if you’re willing to get into that despite the fair chance of being ultimately disappointed by unfulfilled promise, then I suggest you give Gojira your money.