Magma is the sixth studio album from French metal band Gojira. The album was released on 17 June 2016 through Roadrunner Records. The album was recorded at the band's studio in New York City, and was produced by Joe Duplantier, mixed by Johann Meyer, and mastered by Ted Jensen. The album sold almost 17,000 copies in its first week of release in the United States, charting at number 24 on the Billboard 200, making Magma the band's highest sales and chart debut to date. The album has been noted as a stylistic departure from the band's previous albums, featuring a more accessible atmospheric sound and more prominent use of clean vocals. The album was nominated for Best Rock Album and the single "Silvera" was nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
In November 2014, Gojira relocated to New York City and construction began on their own music studio in Queens. By April 2015, the studio was complete and the band began recording music. However, recording of the album was put on hold when Joe Duplantier and Mario Duplantier's mother fell ill and died. The band spent some time touring before returning to studio to continue recording. Mixing of the album was completed in February 2016.
Mario Duplantier stated about the lyrical aspect of the album: "When you read Joe's lyrics, for me, I cry right away. They're very deep and to the point. No bullshit. We recycle our sadness and depression in the music."
Joe Duplantier stated about the album's general direction: "We want a short album. Something less epic than what we usually do. People's attentions are shorter now. So a lot of the songs are four minutes." He also stated: "We have some Pantera-ish kind of riffs, which is kind of new for us. But [...] we want riffs to be a little punchier sometimes."
He also explained that the writing process for Magma differed from previous albums, saying that "We do things a little differently. We dump songs, we dump riffs, which we never did before. [In the past] we would prepare 12 songs, get in the studio and record them just exactly as they are on the demos. We decided to do it differently this time."
Magma was released on 17 June 2016, via Roadrunner Records. On 22 April 2016, the band released an official video for the track "Stranded" and on 20 May 2016, the band released an official video for the track "Silvera".
On 7 July 2016 the band released a music video for the closing track of the album "Low Lands". Described by the band as "an intimate and poetic piece", the music video was directed by Alain Duplantier, cousin of the band's Joe and Mario Duplantier. The video features "the brothers' childhood home in Ondres, France, near a stormy ocean", as well as "gothic visuals and some symbolically personal imagery for the Duplantier brothers, Joe and Mario, who lost their mother last summer."
On 2 May 2016 Gojira announced a North American tour in support of Magma. The band will be supported by the British metal band Tesseract, and will tour the United States and Canada from September to October 2016. Prior to this tour, the band played an "intimate" show at the famous Saint Vitus bar in New York City on July 14. Loudwire wrote that "New York City will always be home to Gojira and fans will show up anywhere they play, no matter the size of the venue." They also reported that Joe Duplantier spoke about the terrorist attacks in Nice, France, "which for most of us was the first time in the evening that we heard about the calamity." They also noted that it "was bittersweet because it was also the birthday of bassist Jean-Michel Labadie."
On 7 July 2016 the band announced that they would support Alter Bridge and Volbeat on a European tour in November and December 2016.
Magma was met with favorable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, the album has received a score of 79 out of 100 based on 12 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In Dom Lawson's review for The Guardian, he gave the album 5/5, writing that "Magma is the kind of album that metalheads would love non-believers to check out, if only because it confounds all the usual stereotypes about the genre being unimaginative and dumb." Adrien Begrand's review for Spin likewise received the album positively, writing that on Magma, Gojira "strip their distinctive sound down even further, most often building songs around one insidiously catchy riff and resisting self-indulgent flights of fancy. It’s common for young acts in modern metal to show astonishing technical skill but no sense of restraint. By contrast, there’s little else out there like the taut, minimalist Magma right now."
Rolling Stone's Daniel Epstein noted that Magma marks a stylistic departure for Gojira compared to previous albums. "Largely absent are the epic song arrangements and neck-snapping displays of instrumental wizardry that marked their recordings up through 2012's L'Enfant Sauvage. Instead, new tracks like "The Shooting Star," "Stranded" and "Pray" are more about finding a fearsome groove or riff and squeezing it for every last drop of darkness and catharsis." He notes the death of Joe and Mario Duplantier's mother as a likely influence on this development. Epstein also compared the album to Metallica's 1991 self-titled album and Mastodon's 2011 The Hunter, writing that "for those who can appreciate a tightly focused hard rock album infused with emotions that are often just as heavy as its riffs, Magma offers a listening experience that is as rewarding as it is therapeutic."
Writing for Pitchfork, Zoe Camp described Magma as "their most accessible release yet, melodically immediate and charged with emotion." Camp sided with Epstein and other critics in considering the album a stylistic departure from previous releases. Camp wrote that on Magma, Gojira "deliver a taut, catchy crossover effort that inoculates their heady metal with equal parts melodic immediacy and emotional intimacy, while retaining the pillars of their caustic panoply: mathy riffs, uncommon time signatures, ferocious, death-metal-styled vocals, and above all, overpowering anxiety. The new sound’s largely a consequence of the Duplantiers’ grief; their mother passed away during the album’s gestation, forcing the brothers to get out of their own heads and revisit the material they had so far–often fighting back tears during the sessions."
All music composed by Mario Duplantier and Joe Duplantier. Lyrics by Joe Duplantier.
Personnel adapted from liner notes.