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Live Review: Gojira @ Forum Melbourne

5 December 2022 | 3:15 pm | Rod Whitfield

The next 90+ minutes are difficult to put into mere words. But this is a review, and we must try...

What an absolute treat. Two massive international headliners in their own right on the one bill together at Melbourne’s best venue. The only way this could have been better is if they’d given a local support/opener a crack. But hey, we’re here, the place is sold out and packed to the back, and live heavy music is alive and well.

Tonight is a monumental feast of Mediterranean metal! 

The Forum, with its classic architecture, high, cerulean-blue ceiling and Greek and Roman statues, is a wildly appropriate venue for the dark, gothic Italian metal of the mighty and long-running Lacuna Coil. 45 minutes probably isn’t enough for a band with more than a quarter of a century of history behind them, but we must take what we can get while they’re here on one of their rare sojourns Down Under. Tonight their set juxtaposes the water-tightness, pristine sound and wily live nous of a band that’s been around for that long with what appears to be levels of hunger similar to what they displayed 20 years ago when they released the mighty Comalies album. A record that set the stage and paved the way for themselves and myriad other female-fronted gothic/symphonic heavy bands to take on the world and attain global notoriety.

Speaking of Comalies, while the band touches on several of their nine studio albums across the course of their set, they focus closely on reimagined and reworked versions of tracks from that seminal work in celebration of its 20th anniversary. And also, speaking of ‘female fronted’, frontwoman Cristina Scabbia may be somewhat diminutive in height, but in voice and presence, she is an absolute dynamo, a force of nature to be reckoned with.

Tonight, she sounds fabulous, she looks fabulous, and with Andrea Ferro sharing the limelight, she co-forms one of the great dynamic duos in heavy music, and the crowd responds to their herculean clean/dirty vocal tradeoffs with boisterous enthusiasm.

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Hard to believe this band is the support to the main act, but when you consider who the headliners are . . . Sometimes the humble music reviewer struggles to find the words and lacks the superlatives to describe what they are experiencing. A deep, dark wash of sound heralds the arrival of French masters Gojira, before Mario Duplantier’s drums explode, and then everything explodes. The next 90+ minutes are difficult to put into mere words. But this is a review, and we must try. 

Gojira live is a musical detonation of seismic proportions, utter devastation in melodic and harmonic form, a thousand-ton sonic hammer that could lay waste to entire regions were it an army fighting modern warfare. The tsunami of sound thunders off the stage and assaults you like multiple Panzer tank divisions, punctuated by a spectacular light show and broadsides of smoke and flame raining from ceiling and floor. Witnesses can only stand there in awe of this display of pure power and majesty. And that’s exactly what 2000 of us do this night.

At the same time, there is nuance, there are dynamics, there is light and shade, and there is intelligence and savvy in design at work here. This is a band that knows exactly what it’s doing, a band that knows how to devastate and articulate at once. There is intricacy and detail in the playing and the performance that offsets the earthshaking musical convulsions just beautifully, and it’s this synthesis that makes this band so very, very special.

Only minor small gripe associated with tonight’s Gojira show: we didn’t get to hear the propulsive blast of the appropriately titled The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe from their magnificent album, From Mars To Syrius. But when you get one hour and twenty minutes of their set, plus two incendiary encores, it’s a small price to pay.

What an elemental and cathartic night of power, precision and passion from two bands in their best imaginable form. With the Good Things Festival on tomorrow, one can only be jealous of people getting to see them both twice in two days.