If you want to see where metal is at, look no further than Bayonne—that's France, not New Jersey.
Albuquerque's knowledgeable metal fans exploded into cheers on Tuesday, Jan. 29, as everyone's favorite French metal band Gojira tore into the opening track "Explosia" from their 2012 release L'Enfant Sauvage.
Live, Gojira sets up a sonic force field made up of fast, staccato pounding rhythms behind which the band works its art. Aware of the conventions of metal, the band avoids them. The aesthetic extends even to its backdrop, a stylized leafy tree inside a human head instead of skulls, pentagrams, inverted crosses or flames.
Late in the show, the capacity crowd may have gotten got a glimpse into the Gojira creative process and the relationship at the core of the band when Joe Duplantier played a chugging solo riff that also incorporating ringing harmonics. Joined by his brother Mario on drums, the two played together much as one imagines they have over the years. The other members kicked in and they became Gojira. But the image that remains is of Joe riffing away, a man and his guitar in the night.
What separates those who go through the motions and those who could be headed somewhere could be what former President George H.W. Bush called "the vision thing." The Atlas Moth has the vision thing.
Crowded up at the front of the Sunshine stage, the young five-piece band from Chicago is fronted by singer/guitarist Stavros Giannopolous who, with his short hair, beard and hoodie looks like a guy who stocks produce or bags your groceries at Sprouts but who also possesses an unearthly scream and growl.
Their sound recalls a slower, heavier Isis. Andrew Ragin (guitar, keyboards and producer of 2011 release An Ache for the Distance) also cites Neurosis as a band favorite. Waves of sound from the individual instruments interact with each other like a speeded-up continental drift. Drummer Anthony Mainiero produces impossibly heavy beats from his small kit made up of nothing but a bass drum, floor tom, a snare and a few cymbals. People are taking notice of this band. Ragin said that Gojira, who know the band's music, called to invite The Atlas Moth on their current tour. Stavros is also a member of Twilight, which Noisecreep calls a "black metal supergroup." Twilight has a new member for their 2013 release, some recently divorced guy named Thurston Moore. Standing alone in the Sunshine lobby after the show, tired and under the weather a bit, Stavros looked like anything but a superstar. Full journalistic disclosure: I liked these guys so much I bought them a round of beers after their set.
Mr. Gomez, of Taos Pueblo, has been listening to metal since 1975.