The 22nd of April marks world Earth Day, an annual event to demonstrate support for the natural environment and its protection. As the world continues to push back against the surging waves of Covid-19, the issue of the environment and our contribution to any increasingly changing climate is brought into sharper focus. A call to action may be coming from an unlikely place.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented genres of music, heavy metal is often associated with long hair, leather jackets, aggressively loud music, zealous beer guzzling fans all worshiping at the alter of a satanic death cult. While there are niche sub-genres of metal that might meet fit this stereotype, metal music, both lyrically and musically, is often times some of the most introspective, sensitive and thought provoking genres of music. It even has the potential to save the planet.
Blending elements of death, thrash, and progressive metal, French quartet Gojira’s technical and rhythmic style of heavy metal may be too ‘heavy’ for the casual listeners but their textured and atmospheric approach to metal music contains a hidden sensitivity. Lead guitarist and vocalist Joe Duplantier explores life, death, spirituality, and nature through complex and metaphorical lyrics with a particular focus on man’s search for meaning and the impact humanity has had on the natural world.
Environmentalism is perhaps the strongest theme running throughout the band’s six album discography with the band often offering their own scathing takedown of humanities continued destruction of the natural environment. They have used their lyrics and music videos to highlight environmental issues such as climate change and marine pollution with songs such as ‘Global Warming’ and ‘Toxic Garbage Island’ criticizing man’s continued pollution and destruction of the natural environment. The band often collaborates with environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Sea Shepard whose work protecting marine wildlife is frequently promoted by the band.
In anticipation of the release of their seventh studio album Fortitude, the band released the second single from the album titled ‘Amazonia’. The song and its accompanying music video address the issue of deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest and the continued impact it is having on the indigenous tribes who live there. The band also set up a month long charity fundraiser in conjunction with the charity Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB) with the aim of raising money to go towards conservation projects within the Amazon. As of 13 April 2021, the fundraiser has raised over $120,000 by selling autographed instruments and memorabilia from some of metal’s biggest bands including Metallica, Slipknot, Deftones and Slayer.
Speaking in a 2016 interview, drummer Mario Duplantier spoke about the band’s love of nature and how they believe humanity has the power to undo the damage that has been done
“We’re no eco warriors but we’re conscious human beings, and we think about life, and how we’d like to live – those thoughts have resonance.
“It’s not only about the ecology of nature, it’s also the ecology of human beings. We all have a responsibility to think and do things that enrich our word. It’s a chaotic world, with an economy based on fraud, and politics based on corruption, but as ugly as the world is, we can change it.” – Mario Duplantier
While the world continues to fight back against the seemingly endless waves of the Covid-19 virus, it perhaps comes as a timely reminder of our fragile relationship with nature and a sobering reminder of our precarious place in the natural world. Should our destruction and degradation of natural habitats such as The Amazon continue, then perhaps we will find ourselves once again having to atone for our environmental sins as as we attempt to navigate a seemingly less certain future.Amazonia Article by Cormac Breen