Over 50.000 square kilometers of rainforest are lost every year. There is an island of 87.000 tons of plastic trash in the pacific. Many animal species have been exterminated or driven to the brink of extinction by humanity. And while half of earth’s habitable land is used for food production, a third of all food worldwide is wasted. But these are all things we know. Numbers and facts contextualize the impact we have on our planet, but they lack an emotional component.
Emotionally charging a topic is not something that is limited to art, but art is one of the best suited mediums for the process. And as the awareness for our impact on the environment has risen, more artists express ecological views in their work. As a counterculture, metal critical of society is as old as the genre itself. For decades, bands have put the focus on nature and environmental themes. Take for example the forest romanticism of second wave black metal or, more recently, green metal bands like Botanist.
In the 2000s, french Gojira began making their way towards becoming one of the most successful proponents of spiritual and environmental metal. And the album that elevated them to the rank of legends was the monumental From Mars to Sirius. Since their arthouse beginnings with Terra Incognita, the band had their sight turned inward, to the human spirit and our place in nature.
Though their lyrical content was consistent, Gojira reinvented their sound on From Mars to Sirius. While previous albums were more experimental in some places and more Morbid Angel in others, From Mars to Sirius laid down the band’s definitive sound. Along with the production quality of their music, Gojira perfected their style of huge, rhythmic, and passionate progressive metal.
Conceptually, From Mars to Sirius is a story of death and rebirth, war and peace. In an interview with Spirit of Metal, Joe Duplantier explains that Mars and Sirius are symbolic of war and peace. Over the course of the album, the protagonist overcomes their inner war. With the guidance of extraterrestial beings, they learn to restore peace on earth.
Musically, From Mars to Sirius poses the question of where to even begin. Tracks like the invigorating Backbone and the definitive Heaviest Matter of the Universe invite to pump your fists and bang your head. Emotionally deep cuts like Where Dragons Dwell and Global Warming place the message of the album front and center. Unicorn and From Mars present softer tones and the band’s willingness to experiment present on all of their albums. There is no filler or dull moments. Every song matters and every note has its place.
Further, both the mix and production are an integral part of the album’s appeal. In combination with the performances, the monolithic sound of the album comes to life. Thundering drums, massive guitars and a mix that is just compact but spacious enough to convey both intensity and vastness. The work done on this album by Studio des Milans is nothing short of masterclass.
And more than just the sound Gojira create, it is evident how invested they are in their cause. They are passionate in their appeal to both our consciousness and our spirit. The ways of humanity are frustrating. We short-sightedly destroy both ourselves and our home. In spite of that, the message of From Mars to Sirius is heartfelt and hopeful. There is a conviction that we can change and move towards a brighter future, echoed in the mantra of album closer Global Warming: We will see our children growing.