Although their first two efforts, 2000's Terra Incognita and 2003's The Link, had been quite impressive in their own ways, Gojira's third album, 2005's From Mars to Sirius, was the one that really stamped the French quartet's all-pro credentials, gaining them access into the exclusive top echelon of the world's progressive metal elite. Meticulously conceived from the inside out, the record radiated a newfound confidence to match both the unprecedented diversity of its musical palette, and the evocative cover art (featuring a whale adrift amongst mystery planets) representative of its often otherworldly qualities. Yes, the band's primary influences -- Pantera's heavy grooves, Meshuggah's icy technicality, Neurosis' post-metal atmospherics -- were still very evident in complex new musical excursions like "Ocean Planet," "From the Sky," and "The Heaviest Matter in the Universe" (listen for their shared, Dimebag-inspired, jarring guitar-squeal effect). But the way in which Gojira were deconstructing and remixing these influences was something they could now finally, safely, call their own. Certainly, the fluidity with which utmost heaviness and delicate melodies were made to coexist within the scope of single songs like "Where Dragons Dwell," "Flying Whales," and "World to Come," was truly astonishing -- as was the surprisingly seamless flow accomplished by the sequencing of these wildly disparate tracks, and the thematically conjoined esoteric subjects undertaken throughout. The final outcome was still not easy to digest, and admittedly just a tad bit overlong (Gojira's next challenge was definitely to be a little more concise), but compared to most of the impossibly dense (and often exhausting) prog metal available, From Mars to Sirius, struck a close to perfect balance between degree of difficulty and ultimate reward.