Here we have a veritable treat for the Gojira aficionado - a double DVD and CD package that's billed as a 'Limited Edition Deluxe Version', and indeed it is deluxe. The first DVD contains an entire 90+ minute live performance from the Garorock festival in April 2009 as well as three bonus tracks from a show at France's biggest mainstream fest, Les Vielles Charrues, in July 2010; the second has another live show in its entirety, this time from February 2009 in Bordeaux and an hour long documentary; and a live CD with, bearing in mind size constraints of the format, the majority of a live set. Oh, and a booklet and poster have also been included in the smart looking DVDigipak packaging that house the three discs. A lot of effort has been made here to offer something truly collectable for both the casual and avid Gojira fan so kudos to Mascot Records on this front.
So then, the first DVD. Well, in short, the Garorock show is quite magnificent and has managed to capture this bunch of groove-infused prog/death metallers at their most potent as they unleash full-on metal fury with each and every song in their set. The first thing to strike me is that it's not been filmed/edited in an entirely conventional manner: simulated film granularity; sporadic flashes of black & white; jump cuts; and ceaselessly roaming shots from a multitude of angles, have been all edited together in a rapidly moving montage. The director and editor have evidently not set out to try and emulate the live Gojira experience with any degree of authenticity and, to be honest, that's all too often a futile exercise in trying to capture such for live DVDs for any band. After all, what can replace the actual experience of being at the show itself? Instead, at least in my opinion, they've cleverly married visual and audio so the cacophonic editing of the stylised footage becomes at one with the technically accomplished brand of extreme metal Gojira play. To be honest, it's a refreshing change from the more conventional, uninventive, pedestrian concert footage that characterises the majority of live DVDs, albeit I predict it won't be to everyone's taste. The inclusion of song titles at the bottom-left of the screen at the start of each track is perhaps a little superfluous, considering established Gojira fans will be able to instantly identify the songs anyway, but hey, that's just a minor quibble. And sound-wise, of which a simple stereo mix and Dolby Digital 5.1 options are available, the DVD also shines. As for the three bonus tracks from Les Vielles Charrues, they're a nice addition with a similarly pristine sound/mix as the Garorock performance and show Gojira as a band able to hold their own on a massive festival stage in front of what was, presumably, an audience of mainstream music fans rather than a dedicated metal audience.
With the second DVD featuring a show from Bordeaux with a more or less identical setlist to that of the Garorock performance, what's new here? Well, apart from capturing the band in action at a smaller club gig rather than in a festival context, for those of you who might take a dislike to the frenetic editing of the Garorock footage, this is a far more conventionally filmed/edited live show. The sound and mix, while great, are not quite up to the high standard set by the first disc but there's still a lot of sonic oomph and resonance to do 'live Gojira' justice. Dare I say, my preference is actually the Garorock set but only because of the effort that's been put into the post-production/editing to present something fairly innovative and a little different. The Bordeaux show is still an enjoyable watch/listen though. The highlight of this second DVD, however, is most definitely 'The Way of All Flesh From the Inside' documentary. Featuring a combination of studio, rehearsal, and tour/concert/festival footage, it offers both an abstract and frank insight into life as a band for the Frenchmen. There are a few gems here, including five or so minutes of Gojira trying out new material in front of a small crowd within the very intimate confines of a French café in April 2010; and backstage segments of when they were bestowed with the honour of tour support for Metallica. The 60+ minute documentary remains an interesting watch throughout and with band scenes intercut with artsy footage, just like the Garorock show, it deviates from the average band documentary in the most pleasing of ways.
As if all of that wasn't enough, there's also the inclusion of the CD of course; almost 66 minutes music with much of the Garorock set to relish in just an audio format. All in all, 'The Flesh Alive' is a stunning package that is an essential purchase for the established Gojira fan. And, as I've always attested for live recordings - audio, visual, or both - it's a good in for those who are approaching the band afresh as it offers a nice cross-section of their material and is illustrative of just how utterly brilliant Gojira are on the live stage with their commanding presence, energetic performances and tight delivery of their technically accomplished compositions. Highly recommended.
THE FLESH ALIVE
Review by Mark Holmes
11th June 2012
DVD ONE: Garorock live perforrmance (13 tracks); Les Vielles Charrues live performance (3 tracks)
DVD TWO: Bordeaux live performance (14 tracks); Documentary - 62 minutes of exclusive behind the scenes footage
CD: 1) Oroborus; 2) The Heaviest Matter of the Universe; 3) Backbone; 4) Love; 5) From the Sky; 6) A Sight to Behold; 7) The Art of Dying; 8) Clone; 9) Flying Whales; 10) The Way of All Flesh; 11) Terra Incognita; 12) Vacuity
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a veritable treat for the Gojira aficionado..."