The French metal band Gojira was originally called Godzilla, but they changed their name. The newer name is the original Japanese name for the monster Godzilla. The members of Gojira were raised in the southwest coast of France, and they've said that their upbringing shaped their interest in the sea and the elements. Over the years — 10 years or so — they've played death metal, recently moving more towards a prog-metal vibe.
Their most recent record, 2016's "Magma," was nominated for a Grammy for best rock album. (Their first record was called "Terra Incognita," suggesting an affinity for earth science and history.) There's some aggressive riffage on the new record, machine-gun-blast kick drum and guitar attacks, and agonized-sounding vocals about brutality, but there are other more atmospheric, melodic and sung sections. The tension-and-release between breakneck shredding and brief destabilizing half-time glimpses keeps the listener both attentive and off balance.
The band manages to sound epic without dragging the songs on for much more than five minutes most of the time. And there are moments, like on "Stranded," with its metallic-noise guitar tone and slashing syncopations, that sound almost avant-garde.
Gojira is at the Webster Theater, 31 Webster St., Hartford, on Friday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m. $35 to $40. 860-525-5553 and webstertheater.com