After several times being announced as the headliner for the Tuska editions that ended up not happening due to the pandemic and another postponed show, the French metal masters of Gojira finally made it to Finland! While at first the show was scheduled to be at the Helsinki Culture House, the ticket sales pretty soon told the organization that there was way more demand than they initially thought and ended up moving to the much bigger Black Box Jäähalli (Ice Hall). And again, the show got sold out completely by the time they arrived here. With support from up-and-comers Alien Weaponry and Employed To Serve, we knew we were in for quite the night for heavy music!
Employed To Serve
First up, UK-based Employed To Serve. They had the thankless job to kick off the night while people were still trickling in, but luckily people already showed up early and quite quickly the room was filled up pretty nicely for the openings act. Their brand of metal is very much rooted in hardcore and is an absolute bomb. While for a long time they seemed to struggle to get their name around, but with last year’s release ‘Conquering‘, they turned quite some heads, it being praised by a whole lot of people as one of the best albums of 2021. Taking note of that, opening with the tracks ‘Universal Chokehold‘ and ‘Exist‘ from that release was simply a smart move. While the first one’s melodic intro lulls you in somewhat of a feeling of safety, when the hard-hitting riffs kick in you get smacked in the face and know you’re in for a fun ride. ‘Exist‘ then on the other hand, brings the kind of Code Orange-esque frenzied sound that absolutely destroys. With ‘Sun Up to Sun Down‘ and ‘Mark of the Grave‘ there were a couple more tracks of that album, with older work sprinkled throughout the set. Vocalist Justine paced around on stage like a lion in a cage, letting loose of some pent up rage screaming her heart and soul out, while the guys with her were all up there with her energy level. Seriously, we want a way longer set from this band, but what a perfect warm-up for a night like this!
Sun Up to Sun Down
Mark of the Grave
Gojira really seems to keep a strong eye on the future of metal, because the 2nd band they brought with them on tour were the New Zealand up-and-comers of Alien Weaponry. They kind of blew up in 2018 with their first full-length album of Maori inspired thrash/groove metal and re-affirmed their meteoric rise in 2021 with second album ‘Tangaroa‘. After the traditional Haka performed by drummer Henry to officially open the show, kicking off their set with by now Alien Weaponry classics ‘Raupatu‘ and ‘Holding My Breath‘, the de Jong brothers with bassist Tūranga Morgan-Edmonds quickly brought the venue to a boil. Finnish crowds are notoriously difficult to get active at shows, but there was no sign of any reluctance tonight! Is it the magic of Alien Weaponry live, the hunger for live music after a couple of difficult years or a bit of everything together, I don’t know but there was something in the air tonight! It’s been a while since we last saw moshpits, circlepits and wall of deaths at this scale in Finland at an indoor show and it was amazing! From the new album we got a small selection of tracks like the singles ‘Tangaroa‘ and ‘Ahi Kā‘, rounding off the set with another set of Alien Weaponry classics with ‘Rū ana te whenua‘ and ‘Kai Tangata‘. Again, we wanted way more of this but we couldn’t have thought of a better support act for a band like Gojira. Still, time for a headline tour in Europe (that preferably also drops by Finland)?
Holding My Breath
Rū ana te whenua
Gojira has built quite the reputation over the past 25 years or so. Releasing solid records time after time and consistently growing out to become legends both musically and in live performances. Almost every year you could see them climb up a couple of steps on the line-up ladder and not too long ago they had a headline spot at Tuska that was absolutely killer. So now they’ve gotten to a level that they can tour around Europe with a pretty big production and sold out shows at pretty big venues in every country. 2021 saw the release of their first new album in 5 years with ‘Fortitude‘, another one of the strongest metal albums of that year.
And here we are then finally, on their ‘Fortitude‘ tour further taking over the world. After the countdown and the curtain drop, they started strong with the opening track ‘Born for One Thing‘, followed by old school track ‘Backbone‘ and more recent banger ‘Stranded‘. Complete with the fitting visuals and great stage production with the lights and pillars of smoke, this is the Gojira that will continue to rise to the top of contemporary live acts. Add to that the passion for their music that every band member shows in a different way and you can’t help but being sucked in, feeding off the energy radiation from the band and in the whole room. Vocalist Joe Duplantier looks at times menacing and at other times like a rascal who is up to no good with a smirk on his face, guitarist Christian Andreu often seems lost in the music, while bassist Jean-Michel Labadie is the most explosive one on the stage, running and jumping around, shouting at the crowd and throwing his bass around. That is when you don’t count in drummer Mario Duplantier who is a beast behind his kit from start to finish.
When the first notes of ‘Flying Whales‘ come from the speakers and the really cool blue lights pop up, the crowd really goes wild. There are a couple more tracks from ‘Fortitude‘ in the setlist of course with ‘Hold On‘, ‘Another World‘ and ‘The Chant‘, while they surprised by playing only the new tracks ‘New Found‘ and ‘Amazonia‘ as the encore songs. However, we must say that ‘Amazonia‘ was an instant classic when the single was unleashed upon the world and while we weren’t necessarily a huge fan of its production, live this track is an absolute monster! But no worries, of course they still played classics like ‘L’enfant sauvage‘ and ‘Toxic Garbage Island‘, by now it wouldn’t be a Gojira show without them. It was great to see these Frenchmen live again, they really never ever disappoint!
Born for One Thing
Love / Remembrance
Toxic Garbage Island
The Gift of Guilt
For more pics of the show, check out our photo report here!