Gojira - Leeds O2 Academy
On any other bill, with any other bands, Code Orange could quite easily have stolen the show this evening. However, anyone who describes Gojira as simply "any other band" needs to retire to a dimly-lit room for a cup of cocoa and a lie down to think about what they've said. For in Leeds, as soon as stick wizard Mario Duplantier opens Only Pain with that pulsating drum attack and the rest of the band explode into life after 3 bars, it is clear that this is going to be something very special indeed.
With a sound that somehow manages to be both devastating and ethereal, the thing that always instantly hits home when witnessing the French titans is the sheer power of this four-piece. In album form, Gojira sound as if they've been recording in an underground cavern the size of Wembley stadium. Live, such is the immeasurable gravity of their sound, the worry is that, forget the Large Hadron Collider, Gojira are creating a black hole of their own and life as we know it is being slowly dragged to a murky death. In a good way, of course.
As if to emphasise the point, The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe is, as always, just that. The one-two punch of new songs Silvera and Stranded demonstrate why Magma is such a wonderful addition to a flawless discography, and Flying Whales (complete with a stunning backdrop featuring a video of a whale) gets the entire venue bouncing along to that classic loping rhythm. The intestine-shakingly heavy Backbone, with the polyrhythmic mayhem outro from Remembrance shackled to the end threatens to absolutely level the place, and the dexterous interplay and building sense of foreboding on L'Enfant Sauvage demonstrates Gojira at one of their most dynamic moments.
As always, the technical prowess on display is simply staggering, helped by a virtually crystal-clear sound (a tipping of the cap to the person on the sound desk) which laid bare every pounding kick drum and characteristic pick scrape. Closing the evening with a rendition of Vacuity that sounds as though Godzilla itself is pacing around Leeds city centre, Gojira end as they began: by navigating that virtually-impossible tightrope between ferocity and grace. There truly is no better live band in metal right now.