The death metal genre certainly doesn't lack for poetry. In some cases, there may even be too much of it -- Viking pillage, Rome on fire, and biblical mythology are often subjects for the genre's melodramatic imagery and wordplay. However, without aid of a lyric sheet, the phrases are often unintelligible.
If you're content to simply distinguish a rasping "goat!" from a guttural "Odin!," this isn't really a problem. With a band like French pioneers Gojira, however, every syllable counts. Writing in English, singer, lyricist and guitarist Joe Duplantier spins evocative tales brimming with tragedy and the struggle to pull free. "Reflecting ourselves in the blood of all the things we slay / Misunderstand each other, out of control we remain," he sings. "The way I see things is so simple / The fact I'm walking standing on this land."
The Way of All Flesh, the band's most recent release on Prosthetic Records, earned a well-deserved place on the year-end lists of critics, musicians and listeners alike, and expanded the band's worldwide audience. Loosely conceptual, the album examines human life as a constant drive towards death, investigating the inescapable mortality of men and potential extinction of mankind, as well as the destruction of other species.
Duplantier's vocals range from melodically articulated to raw animal noise. From any approach, he presents his ideas clearly. Some of those ideas are personal and self-examining, as on tracks such as "All he Tears" and "Adoration for None." Others are environmentally conscious mourning, such as "A Sight To Behold" ("Exhausted is the realm of nature, friends are dying / The living creatures on our side").
With Duplantier's lyrics and singing, Gojira could get by with only the most serviceable musical accompaniment. The quartet, however, is not only a capable foil but an equal one. Blending elements of technical death metal, prog and thrash, Gojira has created a unique, instantly recognizable sound: brutal yet harmonious, technical yet expressive, and capable of entrancing both metal fans and more general music listeners.
Gojira with Dethlehem and Hyperion. 7 p.m. Fri., Oct. 16. Diesel, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. $14 ($16 day of show). All ages. 412-431-8800 or www.dieselpgh.com