War to Peace – An Environmentally Relevant Whale of an album

From Mars to Sirius, an album created by the band Gojira, the album tells a story of a protagonist awakening on a long-lost planet, attempting to find a way to end the conflict and destruction of his own planet by seeking the flying whales, mystical creatures who have the wisdom to perhaps save the protagonists home. Although this is only one way to interpret the album in short. The premise of the album is actually extremely relevant lately, what with Greta Thumburg and the quest to save our own planet from a close destruction.

Gojira are a French heavy metal band fronted by the lead guitarist and singer Joe Duplantier, His brother Mario as the drummer and backing vocalist, guitarist Christian Andreu and bassist Jean-Michel Labadie. The line-up has been the same since the band’s name change from Godzilla in 2001.

Mars to Sirius was their concept album conceived in 2005 to tackle environmental issues and broader themes of life, death and rebirth. The album’s genre falls more into progressive death metal or technical death metal as it used complex song writing and demanding instrumental skill. Joe’s vocals and the band’s overall tone shifts throughout the album from the opening track ‘Ocean Planet’ starting with almost confused and angry vocals and heavy riffs. to the final track ‘Global Warning’ which features clean vocals in an urgent message as well as a much more melodic flow to the instrumental.

This article will feature my own personal opinion on each track as well as the fan-base’s own opinions through use of the Facebook page ‘Gojira Whaleposting’ of which I joined before writing the article. Since I could spend hours analyzing, I shall only be reviewing and explaining the surface meaning of each song following a specific structure.

Track One : Ocean Planet

The first track, Ocean Planet begins with the use of a whale call, of which is repeated throughout the album. as the call quickly dies the song kicks off with a chugging instrumental that carries over to Joe’s explanation of the protagonist’s situation, in the first person. The vocals in this song start off sounding confused, then angry as his voice become more intertwined with the instrumental. The song seems to be about the protagonist awaking on a planet after dreaming “fluid dreams” of a “path [the protagonist] was so scared ,” this being the end of the world . The protagonist asks himself why “they call him there?” this making reference to the flying whales who have knowledge detrimental to saving his world, but he feels he is unable to reach them since “they’re so close inside and yet so far away.” Starting the spiritual and physical journey us, the listener, and the protagonist are about to make. The song attempts to wake up the listener just as the protagonist has to these issues that are fatally real and uses the character created as a bridge from the fantasy created to the world we live in. Overall this song is fantastic displaying such raw emotion in a multitude of ways and serves as a microcosm of what the album entails and even without listening to the lyrics and meanings, it’s still very nice to listen to. 

Track Two : Backbone

The next song is backbone and in terms of story starts in the same place directly after ‘Ocean Planet.’ The track opens with Joe mentioning the rock he was previously crying on and how me must break free now that he’s come to terms with the fact, he’s still alive. Throughout the song it is mentioned how powerful the protagonist is becoming as he is now “indestructible,” “inexhaustible” and now “unconstrained.” With this sense of power arising from what was sadness we are given constant reference to the protagonist’s grit and backbone as his “serpent made of bones” will finally rise from the ground. The outro; “beat your feet on the ground now, go” is the official start of the physical journey. With this song the band have built a character that is determined and loving of his planet and is not afraid of the journey ahead, which could clearly show how important it is to break from the blindness that the world is coming too and actually getting up and influencing the problems caused no matter how much you want to “bow down to the walls of fear and madness.”

The instrumental continues the ‘chugging’ of the previous song whilst focusing a lot more on the changing of rifts and rising tension of the monstrous guitar and drum breakdowns. On its own the song works amazingly as a single about self empowerment and breaking from a metaphorical cage we all live in, instead of crying about it and not changing anything

Track Three: From the Sky

‘From the sky’ is a moment for the protagonist to tell the listener his mission and what actually happened for him to need to figure out the way to save his planet. Joe seems to go through stages in which the world began to break with sounds coming from the sky and storms of “time and space” just came and struck and only after all the damage will be done will the people of his planet actually begin to worry about the “mysteries of life” but it will be too late; “Before the strong embrace Of love and might, Of light in the dark.” This being a reference to the Bible and the juxtapositions that will occur before the end of the world, cats and dogs living together etc.. The characters story is now picked up as he now has faith, this becoming prevalent after finding a rock and “giving it life” because he sees that it is “erected in line with the brightest star” which could reference the pyramids of Giza and Orion’s belt and how humans will always try to find something to believe in to keep them strong. The protagonist’s strength is now bolstered with faith of what comes “from the sky.”

The instrumental in the song is insane I’m terms of physical prowess Mario Duplantier consistently uses the double bass pedal to keep a rythmatic and fast pace to the song that matches the aggressiveness of the guitar, the skill of the band on this song is outstanding because of how much leg training would be needed for Mario to pull of the consistent use of the double peddle.

The song’s lyrics tell an amazing story of faith in yourself and what your fighting for, overall the track satisfies the aggressive instruments, sounds but it’s light-hearted lyric theme helps create a theme of juxtaposition seen in the lyrics as well.

Track Four : Unicorn

Unicorn is simply a harmonic transition track that seems to be used to show the passing of time as the listener is almost in the sky with the whales as the protagonist ventures on his journey, is a great transition to the next song.

Track Five: Where Dragons Dwell

‘Where Dragons dwell’ follows the protagonist as he attempts to tame himself and the power, he created for himself in ‘Backbone.’ The protagonist refers to a mountain that could be a part of the world or even a metaphor for himself and his need for self-control. The protagonist is heard ‘’building an ageless army,’’ a double entendre about his own bolstered control and extra power gained from self-control and the real-world power that working together to make change can bring. The character also begins to find strength in himself as he starts to dig within him creating a ‘’tunnel to I,’’ which causes him to earn a sense of awareness of himself as he begins to learn not to ‘’scorn’’ or ‘’fear’’ the ‘’monster kings’’ that delve in ‘’the heart of men,’’ reminiscent of the song ‘Vicarious’ by ‘Tool’ in how we all have vices and should learn to embrace and learn about them instead of staying in denial and not learning how to deal with them.
The instrumental is again amazingly crafted as it gives the imagery of a craggy mountain with its aggressive and almost uncontrolled power it has going for it. Its slow, but brutal and captures the change in emotion that undergoes through the character. This song is one of the more aggressive changes through the album and is one of my favorites instrumentally due to the vivid images of dragons and mountains I get from listening.

Track Six: The Heaviest Matter of the Universe

Next to ‘Flying Whales’, ‘Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ is undoubtedly one of the heavier tracks on the album, as the name suggests. It follows the protagonist as he is trapped again, much like in the first song, ‘Ocean Planet,’ although here he is physically trapped instead of being trapped in his own mind and weakness. The protagonist doesn’t ‘’recall how to free [himself]’’ referencing how far he’s already come but he still must gain physical strength along with his faith and mental strength and ability picked up in previous tracks. The protagonist mentions a ‘’black hole calling’’ him. The ‘’Black hole’’ mentioned could be a reference to the protagonists depression as this ‘’calling’’ was mentioned in the first track as well, but the listener is made to believe this is the whales, could this black hole be the matter that was calling him? And in the end was it all intended to be a fruitless journey? After a long battle with this black ‘’realm of nothingness’’ the protagonist begins to understand the space, in fact, he begins to ‘’feel united’’ as he hears the ‘’moan’’ of what is presumed to be the whales.

The track, as said before, is very heavy and genuinely sounds like a battle is occurring with the character and this need to farther expand his power, the powerful use of pick scraping help break apart the beating of Mario and the growls of Joe that resemble a hard battle being beaten by an unlikely character. The song on its own is amazing to listen to as with every track on the album and is considered by many to be one if not the best song on the album, however; my favorite is the next song, ‘Flying Whales.’

Track Seven : Flying Whales

This is my personal favorite song of the entire album and maybe the entire Gojira Discography. Flying whales Is a mighty awakening of the character in the story. He remembers why he came to this ocean planet, he sees his earth from a different point of view, breaking down the reason why his world is dying as he sees the metaphorical ‘’sinking ship of men.’’ He sees this pride of whales in the sky ‘’looming out of the dark,’’ and as he stares in awe the ‘’mightiest’’ whale comes to him and teaches him how to fly. As he sees these whales Joe screams the lyric ‘’Now I can see the whales’’ a sentence that has been heavily joked about among the Gojira community but is honestly a realization for the character so strong that I myself get goose bumps hearing the character literally realize the potential he has almost like the whales are a reward for finding himself. The protagonist then begins to explain how they tell him so much but ‘’with no words at all’’ this all after a slow breakdown beautifully crafted with pick scrapes that drop the tempo of the continuous chugging of the guitar. I suggest listening to this song with headphones, as it will blow you away.

The instrumental in this track is just as important as the strong lyrics guiding it. it starts slow with a whales call in the background as Mario slowly plays the drum and a slow guitar riff playing in the background, as it all begins to slow down, the guitar picks up with such melodic aggression that sounds absolutely phenomenal paired with the imagery of flying with the whales that comes with the change of guitar riff. On its own I would definitely suggest listening to this on its own its sheer aggression on the first listen can satisfy those with an ear for aggression but once you begin to learn the meaning and lyrics it actually becomes a very soft and beautifully conjured song that the band get bullied way to much for.

Track Eight: Into the wilderness

This track tells the story of the protagonist flying to a new planet/galaxy that is currently ‘’Rising.’’ The protagonist sees the primal beauty within this planet, he witnesses ‘’trees so strong that they can never fall,’’ ‘’wild rivers’’ and ‘’Lions of fire’’ that approach him. This description of this planet seems like a war-zone already, without the human interference but its painted in a way that makes you believe this is the way it is meant to be, the food chain is untarnished. The lines that are repeated twice: “Living respectful, Low your axe, and learn from the trees” shows how in this world the old times are over and its time to respect the environment. The day after he is invited by the residents of the planet, the ‘’Sylvanlings’’ to explore their home underneath the ground and out of sight. He repeats the lines about lowing ‘’your axe’’ and mentions he is going to abandon Earth due to the fact the men will be destroyed, and it will overcome its strife, but he will remain on this planet since its already on its way to destruction.

The track instantly kicks off with brutal guitar riffs and the chugging instrumental in previous songs. The instrumental in the beginning makes me feel like the protagonist is flying through space at a hyper speed to the new planet then as he lands it repeats this melody that makes me feel like the character is spreading his enlightenment as he witnesses the land carrying out its natural acts. because i’ve had to listen to this song quite a bit to review it my opinion on it is so much more enthusiastic than before. On its own it seems to be a melodic death track wherein the lyrics can be hard to understand unless analyzing but the instrumental is beautiful and very underrated in the Gojira community. The song is definitely underappreciated since it comes straight after arguably the best track on the album.

Track Nine: A World To Come
A World To Come envisions the protagonist sat by a lake on a planet that is ‘’Not of this Earth.’’ The water is clear, so clear that the birds flying past it are frightened by their own clean reflection. The protagonist philosophizes about thinking therefore being, by him visually seeing this beauty he hasn’t actually witnessed before it is possible for him to save his own planet by spreading his influence to his people or even us, the listener. ‘’This is the earth But ages after’’ strongly suggests this is the aftereffect of the fall of man and maybe this is the only way to save the world. Throughout the entire song the protagonist realizes the honest truth of how to save the world with the last stanza he hopes that by near death humans will realize their faults and even know that after they leave and die the world will still continue and flourish.

‘’And by the lynch
You will discover
This form of life
Is not the only one
I want the truth
And I just knew it
And now I know
The vision came alive’’

The instrumental is simple in this track opting for a slower and melodic tone as Joe wraps up the characters arch and remains calm until the instrumental slightly shifts as the character realizes what the world is heading for eventually. On its own the song is very strong as a single talking about the fall of man and how by trying and talking about the world your able to fix it instead of it getting to a doomed point unable to go back

Track Nine and Ten : From Mars, To Sirius.

These next to tracks review the already laid out story and explain the story so far as Joe or the protagonist perceives it to be so far ‘From Mars’ begins calm unlike the other tracks and explains the characters backstory and more of who he is. The protagonist claims he took off from a red place, that being mars, meaning war. And he explains how he flew through the universe in search of the answer he needs to understand how to save his universe. Basically, something I’ve already explained.  The protagonist addresses the ‘’Sylvanlians’’ as he explains to them why he is on their planet calling them ‘’friends of old.’’ In the end of ‘To Sirius’ the protagonist seems to make the viewer(s) or ‘’Sylvanlians’’ a ‘’Dolphin from upper space’’ much like the protagonist became in ‘’Flying whales.’’ The two songs tell the story in a complete manor but also allows the protagonist to reflect on its previous encounters and gives the audience and people he is speaking to the power to understand how to save the world before it becomes to late.

‘From Mars’ begins with a very calm instrumental with a much slower tempo and lyrical nature. Although this is simply a build up for ‘To Sirius’ which returns to the harsh sounding instrumentals seen in previous tracks with ripping double pedals and harsher growl sounds. In my opinion these two tracks create a juxtaposition of from mars, meaning from war, and to Sirius ,meaning inner peace, by having the instrumentals that might be expected vice versa to be the way they are set but it still achieves the same goal in how it gets across. Although these track work well as singles when listening to from mars it almost drops without expectation, unless to Sirius is playing after. Meaning to have the full effect of one song you will need the other although during my listening you could listen to them in any order and the story remains the same and could possibly lead into the next song smoother if perhaps that interested you.

Track Eleven: Global Warming

Finally, ‘Global Warming.’ This track ends the story as a message directly to the listener. It’s a softer song instrumentally but with a very harsh message. Strong lyrics such as ‘A world is down, and none can rebuild it Disabled lands are evolving.’ Suggest that it may be too late to change our ways and his dream won’t be able to come true. Although the lyrics ‘’I hold my inner child within And tell him not to cry ,don’t fear the living” create a sense that the people alive now will not be able to save the damage they have cause but the ones not yet born can, ironically 15 years later the rise of interest in ecological issues is prevalent with people like Greta Thunberg, who would have been born around the time of the album, fronting this movement (although I’m not saying Greta is an avid fan of Gojira.) The track initially starts of with the story in mind mentioning the whales but shifts to himself and the message he has to give, with it eventually closing with the repeated lyrics ‘’we will see our children going.’’ Ending the album beautifully but also leading it into the next album carrying on a strange but beautiful cycle of conceptual albums that interlock.

As said in the live video for the track ”Global warming is a reality and a relevant topic, we feel it’s good to be reminded of one of the most important challenges of our time: How to grow as a species without being a parasite to our planet, the only home we have. “We will see our children growing” is a mantra for future generations, and in a figurative way we hope the children in all of us will grow, evolve, and take action for a more compassionate and meaningful world. ”

The best way to listen to this song would be the live at the silver cord studio show which I will link below. Each member of the band is encapsulated into the art they are creating. J is so focused on their own instrument but work so beautifully together as a unit which is incredibly hard to do when so seemingly focused on what you are doing. the instrumental provokes hopelessness like that very first track and plateaus to a hopeful yet unsure ending and much like every song on the album works beautifully on its own as it does with the rest of the album.

And so concludes my personal analysis of the album: ‘From Mars To Sirius’ throughout this review and analysis I have listened to the album so many times in an attempt to capture everything that is being said, in saying that I heavily suggest checking out the album yourself to build a personal view on Gojira whether that is negative or positive.

For anyone wanting to begin listening to Gojira but doesn’t like the album because of its obvious death metal influence a very good album to begin with would be Magma and although it is criticized for being a lot softer that usual Gojira albums especially since there is a ”Magma Bad” meme based in the community. It has many clean tracks that can help ease you into the genre and band.

Inspiration for this piece 

Although its ironic outer layer the Facebook group Gojira whale-posting where very key in creating this piece. The groups knowledge of the band and album as well as their work creating Gojira inspired pieces made me want to research each song individually, I even asked them to share their own opinions

And although I did get some jokes I also got some very good knowledge.

In the future I do intend to review more bands and albums however i would like to begin focusing on albums I haven’t yet heard and expand my musical knowledge. Thank you for reading if you have gotten this far and have a good new year.

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