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It comes as no surprise to me that Meshuggah clones are starting to spring up everywhere. What is very surprising is that none, or at least none that I know of, get anywhere near the success that Meshuggah has now. I think it might be because Meshuggah were the first band to start doing anything like that, much like early death and thrash metal bands that were the pioneers of their respective genres still get praised today. As it is, Four Question Marks take a lot of influence from the Swedish polyrhythmers, and it shows again in their second album Titan.
This one is quite different from Aleph, though. That one took a clear and sharp production and emulated Meshuggah identically, in particular their album Nothing. This album is about double the speed, and has a more suffocating production job, which is more in line with Chaosphere, except it’s different still. Titan is much more death metal orientated, as shown in the opener “Pain Algebra.” It begins with a small polyrhythm, then goes into more of a death metal riff, then back to polyrhythm, yet all of that feels a lot more brutal, and similar to the structure of a death metal album. The polyrhythms are still there, though, but this time, speed is the key. Listen to “Cyclopean Dementia” and tell me if you can understand the snare drum fury that’s present. I’ve listened to this album many times, and I cannot pinpoint the polyrhythms as easily as I could during Aleph, or like I can in Meshuggah. Personally, this is both a blessing and a curse, for pretty much the same reason.
There has been a change in vocalist, too. I didn’t even notice at first, which is indicative of how much I was paying attention. Nevertheless, once I found out, I noticed that the new vocalist has a much more harsh tone that the first guy, who was basically a Jens Kidman clone. This brings Four Question Marks into a mould of their own instead of emulating another band entirely.
I don’t like this album as much as I did with Aleph. It’s faster, yes, but the wall-of-sound production does it no favours, and the music feels a little too haphazard. There’s still lots to like, though, with songs like “Solid” containing some nice sections in it, but I would hope that their next album can garner some better production values, so the music has a chance to shine better. I’ll more than likely reach for Aleph more often, but I still like this.