A primer on touring metal giant Gojira

Photo: Travis Shinn Photography

Who: Likely the biggest metal band ever to come out of France, Gojira has spent the past 21 years climbing to the top of the heavy music world without a single lineup change. The group originally formed in 1996 as Godzilla in Bayonne, and its sound still somewhat harkens back to that period. Gojira’s closest sonic comparison might be mid-’90s metal torchbearer Pantera, albeit with a more progressive edge. The show will feature a night of long-running groove metal acts as veteran local favorites Hemlock has been tapped for support.

Purpose: Beyond simply pulverizing fans, Gojira seeks to educate. Much of its catalog—which now includes six full-length albums—deals with environmental themes and issues. L’Enfant Sauvage (2012), for example, is a concept album that touches on humans’ connection to nature and obligation to fellow living things.

Currently: Gojira broke out of the studio after months of work on new material for a spot on the biggest metal tour of the summer—the Knotfest Roadshow, for which the Frenchmen are playing amphitheaters in support of Slipknot. Never a band to rest easy, Gojira booked a handful of headlining shows on off nights, including this Las Vegas stop, which falls directly between Knotfest dates in Salt Lake City and Albuquerque.

Previously: Gojira similarly wedged its last local appearance—at 2017’s Psycho Las Vegas festival—amid a summer spent playing stadiums while opening for Metallica. If the Psycho set was any indication, don’t expect a stripped-down performance just because it’s a break from the main tour. Gojira had the second-largest production of the festival that year—behind only headliner King Diamond—complete with smoke machines and an extravagant light show.

Discography: From Mars to Sirius (2005) is Gojira’s most critically acclaimed work—and it’s one of the youngest albums in Decibel magazine’s Hall of Fame. Other segments of the fanbase argue for the superiority of 2008 follow-up The Way of All Flesh or L’Enfant Sauvage, however. Recent setlists have skewed toward 2001 debut Terra Incognita and 2016’s Magma. There’s much debate on which records are most worthwhile, but little disagreement that the stage is the ideal setting for Gojira.

GOJIRA with Hemlock. August 2, 7:30 p.m., $30. House of Blues, 702-632-7600.

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