France may not be the international hotbed for metal, but the extreme French quartet Gojira has emerged as one of the genre's leading lights. On the brutal, esoteric The Way of All Flesh, guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier and drummer brother Mario shine as metal's most fearsome sibling tandem since Sepultura's Max and Igor Cavalera.
Neck-snapping, stop-start riffs and intricate rhythmic onslaughts form the cornerstone of Gojira's sound, but The Way of All Flesh also offers plenty of sonic departures. "A Sight to Behold" doubles Duplantier's vocals with vocoder-style synth effects, while a spare percussive intro and ambient guitar coda bookend the epic 10-minute centerpiece "The Art of Dying." Lyrically, the environmentally conscious band continues its clarion call against man-made pestilence, howling about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on "Toxic Garbage Island." However, Gojira's fourth album focuses more on spiritual concerns than Earth-bound battles. The ruminations on mortality heard in "Yama's Messengers" and "Vacuity" match monstrous riffage to equally weighty subject matter. In terms of crushing musicality and emotional depth, Gojira's latest leaves all but modern metal's vanguard choking on existential dust.