The rise of Gojira is nothing short of meteoric and wonderful. Hailing from Bayonne, France, this extreme metal band, who brilliantly blends technicality with melody, has garnered world wide praise with each of their releases. Interest spread so far and grew so large that Metallica had them as support for much of their late 2009 tour. They were once again invited to join Metallica during their European tour. This was all an opportunity for them to support their (at the time) newly released album The Way Of All Flesh.
All of this is the focus of Gojira’s latest live DVD, The Flesh Alive. Featuring two full concerts, three songs from another, and a 62-minute documentary, this DVD aims to give viewers a chance to enter the world of one of France’s heaviest and most fascinating bands. But does it succeed or leave the viewer feeling cheated?
The first DVD is the band performing at the Garorock Festival in 2009. The concert shows the band performing in front of a vast audience, an ocean of writhing, undulating bodies. The video is highly stylized, featuring sharp edits, video filters, sudden zooms, and more. It makes for a visually entertaining and engaging video, one that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. The audio is well mixed although I would’ve liked the vocals to be a hair louder. But what I really appreciated was the mix of audience noise. Instead of omitting it entirely or removing it completely, the audience was mixed in at appropriate points, giving an authentic feel to the “concert experience”.
The first DVD also features three tracks that were performed at Les Vieilles Charrues. These three tracks see the band on the biggest stage of the concerts but also see the least amount of editing and almost no video effects along with very few, if any, shots of the audience. It’s a raw, pure way in which to see the band.
The second DVD features the band’s performance in Bordeaux and is a very different visual from the Garorock performance. For one, the audience and stage are proportionately smaller. Secondly, there is a much greater emphasis on making sure that the video that plays behind the band gets more attention. There is also far less video filters and effects. But what is interesting is that the crowd is much more engaged and appreciative than the crowd at Garorock.
So, in terms of watching the concerts, it’s a toss up between what I want to see. If I want a visually engaging and big performance, Garorock is the clear answer. But if I want to see a crowd that is much more appreciative of the band as well as the fascinating and beautiful video backdrop, then Bordeaux gets my pick. But let me be perfectly clear: Both concerts are phenomenally put together and are an utter delight to watch. I watched the Garorock concert one morning and the next day I happily popped in the Bordeaux set, even though they have the same track list.
The documentary, The Way Of All Flesh From The Inside, is a view of the band from the recording process of The Way Of All Flesh through to their performances with Metallica. Each step of the journey is given just enough time to tell the important facts while not bombarding the viewer with too much potentially unnecessary information. Rather, they give you enough to maintain your interest and then move onto the next subject.
Sometimes serious, sometimes humorous, the documentary mixes photography done by the band with video footage to follow their journey throughout Europe and the United States. There are also voiceovers of the band discussing exactly what it means to them to be a touring band, to travel the world and connect with their fans.
Perhaps the most incredible thing, at least for me, was how the documentary enhanced the beauty of nature. It is well known that many of Gojira’s lyrics focus on nature and the world around us, so perhaps this swayed my opinion. But seeing the joy and enthusiasm the members had while even doing something as simple as looking out of the window at a new landscape was honestly touching.
The collection also comes with a live CD featuring the full live set with some edits to make it all fit on one disc.
The Final Word: The Flesh Alive is a must-have for any fan of Gojira. The concerts are thoroughly entertaining to watch while the documentary mixes humor, information, and an ability to make the viewer feel and appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature, which the band thrives upon.