Did you know? Gojira is not the first French band signed to Roadrunner! Yes, way back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Roadrunner released three albums by the ultra-heavy French industrial metal band Treponem Pal.
The group took its name from the treponema pallidum bacteria, which causes syphilis. Their self-titled debut, produced by Franz Treichler of Swiss sample-meisters Young Gods, came out in 1989, a fierce, churning blend of noise-rock and pounding rhythms. It was mining some of the same territory as early Godflesh (but with a live drummer) or legendary New York seethers Swans. Vocalist Marco Neves had a hoarse, enraged roar that blended superbly with the band’s grinding guitar sound, huge low-end rumble (courtesy of two bassists) and tribal drumming. Plus, they came up with killer song titles like “Too Many Humans” and “Soft Mouth Vagina.”
Treponem Pal followed up in 1991 with their second album, the aptly titled Aggravation. Having replaced one of their bassists and their drummer, they were tighter and more aggressive, but still fairly close in spirit to Godflesh or even Prong, while proving on their faster tracks that they could hold their own with bands like Ministry or Killing Joke. This album was produced by Roli Mosimann, who also worked with Swans and J.G. "Foetus" Thirlwell. Songs like “Rest is a War,” “Fugitive Soul” and a surprising cover of Kraftwerk’s “Radioactivity” showed the band evolving and becoming a formidable force.
More membership changes heralded the group’s third and final Roadrunner release, 1993’s Excess and Overdrive, produced by Treichler again. They also began to move in a more keyboard-heavy, dance-oriented direction, the grinding guitars of the first two releases still present but buried beneath programmed rhythms and oozing synths. Still, tracks like “Pushing You Too Far,” the title track, and “Stoned” had plenty of power, even if three of the album’s tracks did cruise beyond the seven-minute mark. "Pushing" and "Excess" were also released as remixed singles and got play in industrial dance clubs.
Treponem Pal broke up from 2001 to 2006, but released a new studio album in 2008 and are still out on the road today. And the old records still hold up, as you can hear by checking out the Soundcloud playlist we've put together, as well as the videos for "Radioactivity" and "Pushing You Too Far"!