The Best Albums of 2016, #18

band0118. Gojira, Magma (Roadrunner)

It’s been so enjoyable watching Gojira steadily grow into being such a popular band. When From Mars to Sirius came out more than a decade ago, it was something a lot of us hoped for but also doubted a little, but album after excellent album (as well as relentless touring) has grown their fanbase by leaps and bounds. The French band achieved a significant commercial breakthrough with 2013’s very good L’Enfant Sauvage, unveiling a more streamlined sound that played up their strengths in a much more accessible way than before. For album number six, though, that unique sound, which has always owed a great deal to Meshuggah, is not so much sleek as it is stripped down. Songs have been diluted to their simplest form, in which the guys often stick to one very catchy and very powerful guitar riff and ride it with exacting precision and discipline. I always love the less-is-more approach when it’s used in metal – Voivod proved nearly 30 years ago that restraint goes a long, long way in progressive metal – and Magma pulls it off with supreme confidence. In addition to some excellent melodic vocals by Joe Duplantier and plenty of astonishing drumming by brother Mario, this is a new high water mark by one of the best metal bands in the world right now.