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I honestly don't even know where to begin with this masterpiece. An album that's stayed with me for almost a decade while simultaneously changing the way I look at music and metal as a whole as well as wowing me every single freaking time I listen to it. This album is a planet-shattering testament of the mere fact that the supposed conventions and boundaries of metal (and music for that matter) simply do not exist for some artists out there who constantly seek to re-invent and innovate themselves time and time again. We as mere listeners are clearly not worthy. Don't even remotely think that this album has catchy riffs and hooky songwriting - If you're one of those, you may happily return to your Iron Maiden and thrash metal. More than likely you'll be severely disappointed with this.
You make ask now why the fuck can't I stop gushing about this album at every moment, well let me tell you exactly why - this album completely destroys and dismantles every single preconcieved notion you probably have about being "progressive" or "technical" and literally plays completely by its own set of rules (if they can even be called 'rules' in that sense). And no I ain't merely talking about the minute long tracks slowly building up to an epic suite of music; sure Edge Of Sanity, Green Carnation, Rush and the like have pulled off that kind of approach to songwriting with stomping success in the past, but there is a completely new ball game at work here. Sure the approach might be similar, but that's about it. The sheer dread, awesomely terrifying and uneasy vibe that slowly but steadily creeps up on you track by track, building it up more and more up till the masterful tremolo part at the end of "Entrapment" leading to the end echoing part of "Mind Mirrors" only to finally explode into an even heavier onslaught of mind-numbing groove with "In Death-Is Life" is the ultimate lesson on how to completely and totally nail scintillating dynamics and the concept of ebb and flow in music as a whole. And here's the thing - it fucking fits like a glove, not even remotely sounding out of place, stitched-up or pretentious in the slightest! Which unfortunately, very few artists in the realm of metal really know how to do. Big words? Maybe. Totally the kind of thing that makes you sit up in stunned shock and realize "Holy fuck, these guys are on a whole new level as far as bringing artistic ingenuity and alien technicality into a genre like metal". Truly unparalleled stuff. And Jens Kidman, my fucking word. He was always an amazing vocalist, but he sounds truly possessed by the demons of hell here.
Unlike the albums by the aforementioned bands which were mainly about the development and build-up (aka progression) of different epic slices of music with weaving melodies, you'll barely find wisps and faint traces of very subtle melody to latch on to as this album is pretty much all about mind-numbing rhythmic intensity and jarring displacement multiplied by a thousand plus a complete reformatting of the supposedly standard rules of technical death/progressive metal songwriting, even introducing soothing ambient parts and eerie bits of silence (yes!) which only adds to the feeling of dread and morbid chasm of atmosphere this album conjures. Listen to "In Death Is Death" (man that eerie part at 0:45 is just beyond otherworldly in every sense of the word plus that echoing riff progression at 2:45, not to mention the stunningly technical break at 4:37) and "Shed" (essentially the single of the album, if you will) to get a clearer idea of what I mean exactly. Or better yet, the whole damn album! The closest that you'll be getting to melody is probably "Shed" and "Dehumanization" with faints lines of eerie melodic lines sprinkled over the brutal grooves and hypnotic chugs. Sure their previous albums Nothing and I had a similar approach, but as far as the ambient/jazz influence and poly-rhythms are concerned, it's clearly evident that on this album, the entire band as a whole kicked it up several notches, producing a nearly unparalleled work of art. If you doubt my words, listen to this band and album and please try to tell me any other artist/s that sound even remotely similar. Go on, I'll be waiting right here. Not to mention that the lyrics are simply mind-blowing.Then again considering it's Meshuggah, no surprise there. I mean, just read the below lyrics from "Entrapment" and tell me if I'm wrong -
Insurrection games convincingly performed
Incapacitated by physical thoughts
Acting out the will of tendon and bone
Have the bridges of insanity been crossed and forever retracted?
Am I standing among a thousand selves?
Is the multitude of laughters mine alone?
And here's another thing about this album that sets it apart from most of its peers - the ultimate sum of its parts and its crushing horrifying atmosphere that suffocates the living fucking daylights out of you for every single minute of its 48 minute duration and doesn't let up for even a second, with the obvious exception of "Mind Mirrors" and maybe the latter half of "Sum". Each section flows perfectly into the other like the best of classical music back in the day (not to compare this to classical music, but just so you get the picture) and the re-occurrence of certain rhythmic patterns and similar sounding melodies are bizarrely hypnotic (as other reviewers have already pointed out) making for a perfect musical interpretation of an otherworldly acid trip (the latter half of "In Death-Is Death" and "Sum" (one of the most bizarre yet fitting conclusions to such a monumental album with one of the best riff progressions on the album kicking in at 1:09) embody this fact in stone with epic echoing counterpoint melodies fading in and out), like you see an array of beautiful patterns rich with detail and craft laid out in front of you that you really can't make head or tail of, yet you are unable to tear your gaze away from them because they are so beautiful and ultimately all come together to form a dense spiraling web of intricacies that would probably make your eyes pop. Excuse the lame description, but surely you get my drift. In that sense you will probably not understand what the fuck is going on (unless you know how to decode the poly-rhythms of this band, which I highly doubt) but you will find dazzling patterns and re-occurrences in the music of this work of art that will slowly burrow its way into your mind until you slowly begin to see and most importantly, understand the brilliant overall picture of this magnificent album. This is one of the main common grounds this album shares with the band's seminal Nothing release with the only exception being that Nothing had more individualistic songs in comparison with Catch 33 which flows like one continuous 48 minute song. That is the main thing - a ton of patience is required to pierce through the mystery surrounding this album (not to mention that you most certainly won't end up liking the album during the first few listens because of its dazzling inaccessibility - I definitely know that I didn't like it initially, but then it slowly grew on me bit by bit like no other album ever had) and if you're one of those who prefers having their music hook-laden and catchy to at least a slight degree, I should probably give you a heads up that this album is clearly not for you. Try "Destroy Erase Improve" instead.
As you can see, I've clearly tried but man, no amount of spiraling superlatives can do this album justice, you just need to seek it out and experience it for yourself. I honestly cannot stress the last sentence enough. Of course it goes without saying that this sort of music is not for everyone - every if you happen to be both a prog and a tech death fan, a lot of people out there just don't have the attention span to sit through a piece of music this long, preferring the generic song-by-song approach. Then again, this is Meshuggah you're talking about, so like I already said - Do bear in mind that an exceptional amount of patience would be required especially for this album. In my opinion, the best approach would be to enter the realm of this album with absolutely no preconceived notions about how the album should sound or what genre category it should belong to. None of that "This must definitely be the logical successor to Nothing/I". Mark my words - if you go down that road, you'll be up for some crushing disappointment there my friend. Meshuggah have never really been about predictability and this album proves just that and the fact that whether you like it or not, they are truly one of the best bands to have walked the earth in metal's four-and-a-half decade history. This has been one of my all time favourite albums ever since I discovered it 8 years ago and is truly a titan yet to be dethroned from its number one spot amongst all my favourite classics and albums over the years (which if you've gone through my reviews, is a hell of a long list in any case). As another reviewer aptly put it, this is truly "the future of metal".
I know I am new to this website, but I don't give out 100%'s that freely at all. In fact, just so my 100% won't seem like absolute bullshit, let's just get this out of the way right off the bat. The only other albums I would rate 100% out of all of the albums in the world would be Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, In The Court Of The Crimson King by King Crimson, Images and Words by Dream Theater, Still Life by Opeth and maybe Master Of Puppets by Metallica. That is it. So this is literally one of my all time favorite albums. Why, you ask?
In order for an album to be considered spectacular, in my mind, it must contain three things, and three things only. Some sort of technical ability/talent in the individual instruments, thought provoking lyrics, and most importantly atmosphere. Atmosphere is the most essential part to music in my opinion because it plays with the emotions of the listener. Isn't that why we listen to music to begin with?
Now: onto Catch Thirtythree. Where to begin...it is difficult to pinpoint anything really because everything in my opinion is flawless. From the complex polyrhythms and mind-numbing time signature changes to Kidman's appropriately inhuman vocals, everything perfectly sets the bleak tone for the monster that is Catch Thirtythree. Surprisingly, nothing exemplifies the horrifying feel to the album as perfectly as Meshuggah's new technique that they experimented with on this album: silence. Their use of silence in "In Death is Death" and "Mind's Mirrors" I find to be much more intense than most other Meshuggah songs combined. When a band can create such intrigue and intensity through use of silence, you know that there is something special to behold.
Now, there has been a lot of complaints about the absence of Tomas Haake and his replacement by the "Drumkit From Hell." Tomas Haake is my favorite lyricist in metal, and other than Mike Portnoy my favorite drummer as well. But as strange as this sounds, "Drumkit From Hell" serves its purpose flawlessly, and it is actually made up of samples from Haake's drumming. I barely even notice it anymore. There has also been some complaints about the extreme repetition in their music. I wonder if those reviewers listened to this album how it was meant to be listened to: from track 1 to track 13 straight through and ONLY track 1 to track 13 straight through. Meshuggah has even stated that it was supposed to be an experimental piece. Not unlike A Pleasant Shade of Grey by Fates Warning or Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence by Dream Theater, yes they are considered full albums, but they are designed as one individual song. This means that not only will you not get the full effect i! f you only listen to one track, but you will only get a random 1/13 of the effect. It would be like fast forwarding into a five minute song, listening to twenty seconds of a middle section then turning it off. As for their repetitious habits in general, if you listen to the music carefully it actually is not repetitious at all. In fact, it only appears to be repetitious but is constantly changing and progressing. That is part of the genius behind them, and part of the reason why this is my favorite CD of all time: with each listen I find something new. I've also heard people refer to this as Meshuggah's weakest album. Now this may not be as thrashy and fun as Contradictions Collapse or Destroy Erase Improve, but it is a hell of a lot more consistent, emotional, and mature in every possible way.
All in all, this is one of my favorite albums of all time and I will probably continue to listen to this album for the rest of my entire life. Now it is difficult to pinpoint highlights in Catch Thirtythree because it is, as I have stated endlessly, an individual song. If I had to choose a few memorable moments, I would say the terror inducing solo in Entrapment, all of In Death-Is Death, and Dehumanization. My suggestion would be to buy this album immediately, put it in your stereo, maybe a good novel as well, sit next to your fire place and hold onto your hats for the least relaxing, but hopefully most rewarding 47 minutes of your life. Be sure NOT to leave your seat until the 47 minutes is up!
The isn't my least favorite Meshuggah album per se, but it is probably the one I willingly listen to the least, just because I don't generally have the attention span required to absorb it all, because, as you know, the whole album is one song split into a bunch of different tracks. So no individual track is going to carry any meaning, since they generally have one or two riffs each at most, and at least repeat the same riffs over multiple tracks (the first two tracks do this, and the third has a variation on that one riff), and if you want to get the 'real experience', you'll have to sit down for the whole forty-seven-minute running time of the album. Rarely, very rarely, does the mood strike me to listen to that much of what comes down to variations on the same general riff and musical ideas. Meshuggah has been repetitive for quite some time now, but never have they been this punishingly ambient. Because that's what this really is: ambient music. Not metal; it just happens to have heavy guitars, drums (or drum machine, actually) and gruff, shouting vocals.
Ambient music thrives off of small degrees of change over long periods of time, which is also something that Meshuggah thrives off of, but never before have the changes been so slow and tiny, resulting in collections of change that you don't notice until ten minutes later when you realize you're listening to something completely different. In that regard, it's very organic music, as mechanical as it is. Stylistically, as far as instrumental sound goes, it's still Meshuggah, though it is generally less dense than the superheavy, superthick compositions on albums like 'Chaosphere', with more spacious, mid-paced riffing taking up good chunks of the album's running time. They're still crazy time signature'd as ever, but the guitars and drums seem to do less battle with each other and mesh a bit more naturally than usual. There's no grinding industrial madness like 'New Millenium Cyanide Christ', and there are even points on the album where Meshuggah seems to harken back to the marginally more gentle 'Destroy Erase Improve' days with tracks like 'Mind's Mirrors', which is sort of this album's equivalent to 'Acrid Placidity'.
While it's very well put together in an abstract way, I don't find the songs (or song, rather) as enjoyable as those on other Meshuggah albums. I appreciate it more than 'Chaosphere' because it has a greater level of ambition behind it; there's a lot of rote high/low chugging, but it's rote high/low chugging with a supposed sense of purpose behind it. At the same time, a lot of the rote high/low chugging isn't very interesting to hear. This is a more rhythmically dependent album than perhaps any Meshuggah release before it, and rhythm only keeps me SO interested; sometimes I want something to grab my attention more than just awkward rhythms and riffs. I don't know, I guess I'd prefer this album if it were a bit more artistic and a bit less mathematical. It almost feels like the release was machined out based on mathematical computations more than it was composed by real people, and the occasional 'warm' moment, like the dissonant, hovering lead guitar or the synthesized vocals on 'Mind's Mirrors' have a sort of uncanny valley effect that just draws attention even more to how mechanical the whole album is.
This is another one of those albums that I like substantially more as a theoretical piece than as an album to be listened to for the purpose of entertainment. It's good for study, and showing friends what metal can be like, and challenging yourself, and doing a million things that really don't have anything to do with simply listening at all. It's not like this is offensive; I can put it on in the background and it never distracts me, but that's precisely the problem: it never distracts me because everything is moving in such a crawling and overtly smooth fashion that it all seems to go by both very quickly and almost painfully slowly at once. It's an album that's full of moments but doesn't seem to have any movement, if that makes sense. I prefer Meshuggah when they're more song-y, though this is cool in some ways.
Meshuggah have never been a favorite band of mine. I feel as though the band really gets involved with itself. This isn’t always a bad thing – sometimes it works very well that a band writes for itself but Meshuggah take it a little far.
Catch 33 (as the title suggests) is a risky album. Following in the footsteps of their EP “I”, Catch 33 is one song. This time though they had to courtesy to split the song into parts though for easy access to various parts of the song. Unfortunately many of the parts are almost EXACTLY the same as previous parts. So the various song titles and reasoning for the separation of the tracks seems random to me.
The guitars are once again heavy as fuck as with most Meshuggah albums. The 8 string guitars basically combine bass work into the guitar work and although at one point I found the sound interesting it soon loses its charm after 10 or so minutes. The music is focused on the rhythm and despite claims of “progressive” nature it seems as though the music is more repetitive then most other forms of metal. The guitars do have that industrial overtone that I do have a tendency to like. Massive downbeats rule this album. There is some technicality to the guitars at times but since the guitars are so distortedly heavy it’s lost in the sludge.
The bass work is overrun by the guitars. In all actuality I have no idea whether or not the bass lines even exist on this album. The drums are all programmed – and even though they are the most progressive and varied part of the album they still ring heavily of being programmed on a computer. This is the sound that Meshuggah was striving for I’m sure (programmed drums are nothing new to Meshuggah). I am not a huge fan of that especially when there aren’t instruments to fill in for that sound.
Vocally, Jens gives a normal performance so I can’t say much about that. His deep throated and aggressive style is very unique and one can tell his voice within any song. The distortion on his voice does get old quickly and the lack of variation doesn’t halp at all either. Lyrically is where Meshuggah shines their greatest. Their ability to craft simplistic yet very symbolic lyrics is clever. I wish they had more lyrics to read and decipher – and sometimes I wish there was chorus’s on this album so that I could sing along with.
In the end the lyrics can’t hold the album together and even though the album has a great flow (it IS one song) the album is repetitive and uninspired. Meshuggah have done better than this and hopefully with their next release head back towards that “technical post-thrash” they originally played.
Songs to check out: …um…Catch 33?
Without a doubt, Meshuggah have come a long way. The straightforward thrash of Contradictions Collapse is long gone; the technical thrash of Destroy Erase Improve has been left behind; the speedy rhythmic permutations of Chaosphere have been all but abandoned. The plodding pace of Nothing has been taken and twisted into a far more severe animal. As for I... some people claim Catch Thirty-Three to be an extension of that album, but the two have almost nothing in common, musically.
Now there's this. Forget progression from album to album... the real beauty here is progression within the album itself. The way it moves from start to finish is... compelling. The methodical nature of the compositions is more mechanical than anything they've done in the past. The thing is simply austere. Uncompromising, cold, emotionless, controlled chaos.
To be honest, those adjectives can easily be applied to past Meshuggah albums and still retain some degree of accuracy, but there's a sole element that's pervasive throughout Catch Thirty-Three that doesn't really exist on any other Meshuggah release - it's hypnotizing. It's an interesting thing... the album is very rhythmic and percussive, and the riffs that source from their (now) 8-string guitars are massive, deep, and deceptively repetitive. If you don't pay very close attention, you'd get the impression that the first three songs are entirely comprised of a single riff played monotonously over a simple drum progression - so untrue. The guitars and drums are in brilliant unison all over this album, and they are constantly twisting through myriad rhythmic permutations. I'm not huge on music theory, so forgive me if I misuse some terms, but I believe the rhythmic brilliance that Meshuggah have always embraced is on highest display here. That one riff that you thought was repeating itself over, and over, and over, and over for the last four minutes has actually been morphing, stretching, and collapsing over itself, starting again in a completely different position within the measure and eventually realigning itself within the big picture after a given number of repetitions, only to take off again on another rhythmic trip. Meshuggah does not use polyrhythms to throw the listener off, they instead opt to take the standard 4/4 time signature and completely fuck with your head by slicing up the metric subdivisions of a given progression into some really absurd patterns that sound repetitive, but in actuality are constantly shifting... and man, they exploit the hell out of this approach on Catch Thirty-Three. Hence, the hypnotizing nature of the beast.
People like to bitch about the drums. They're programmed. So what? I didn't even know that they were programmed until I read about it on some forum a few months after I had purchased the album. They sound excellent - full of body, depth, and slam... the cymbals especially are great. Besides, I have full confidence in Tomas Haake's ability to play all of this material.
Jens Kidman is still roaring out his chaotic lyricism as usual with that unwavering atonality he's so well known for. The lyrics themselves seem fitting for the post-apocalyptic sentiment that the music tends to bring forth.
In the end, I'm tempted to say that this is Meshuggah's best album. They've completely buried themselves into the rhythmic trickery that in the past has only been used as a groundwork for other musical elements, and they're really fucking good at it. We don't get to hear Fredrik's oh so sweet Allan Holdsworth-plugged-into-the-Matrix solo'ing, nor do we get to experience Haake's inhuman accuracy on their speedier material... but in exchange we get something far more cerebral; something that's heavy and crushing, yet entrancing, sublime, and minimalistic... something that's satisfying on entirely different level.
Meshuggah is no longer the quintessential technical metal band. They have evolved into something far, far greater.
Pretty much everyone reading this will be familiar with 2002's planet smashing monster "Nothing". Well if you liked that, you'll like this, and if you didn't like that then you won't like this. That's not to say that this is Nothing Part 2 by any means, in fact this is a completely different kettle of fish altogether. The staccato churning grooves of Nothing are here, but they're even slower, more repetitive and set to even more mind-boggling time signatures. This 47 minute monster of a song never gets boring, and the only reason I didn't give this album a perfect score, is, well, that vocoder in Mind's Mirrors is just a tad cheesy. The album highlight would of course be the "In Death" songs, and the awesomely creepy little ambient part at the end, which goes screaming straight into the staccato tribalism of "Shed".
Jens is on top form as always on the vocals, barking out lyrics in his trademark "veins popping out on head, red in the face, drill sergeant" fashion. Another small complaint would be we don't see enough of Fred's crazy insectoid jazz fusion solos, but damn those rhythms make up for it!
It's a shame Haake doesn't play drums, but you'd never know the drums weren't real, seeing as they've all been sampled from his ungodly kit. Apparently the riffs were being chopped and changed around all the time and it would of taken forever to keep learning the drum parts, so fair play to them.
And damn! That cold industrial tremolo riffing which keeps popping up under all these massive riffs makes my hairs stand up! This whole album just makes me think of the inner workings of a massive sentient machine, calculating our demise with a cold unemotional mind. Even though the lyrics are about paradoxes. Speaking of lyrical content, its awesome as usual, even if I don't have a clue what they're on about most of the time. Actually make that ALL the time. These lyrics are pretty damn esoteric, although they are a lot of fun to read and make a feeble attempt at understanding.
So all in all, I'd say this isn't quite Meshuggah's best, although its certainly worthy of a place in their discography. According to them, its not even a bona-fide album, and an experimental piece instead. If you have an open mind and are patient, then buy this album! You (probably) won't regret it!
This album is one that is loved or loathed, without many indifferent opinions…even from Meshuggah fans. I am in the loved category, and do firmly believe this is the best album ever.
I think what makes this album so good is its flow from section to section. The whole album feels like a complete journey, a trek, until you finally reach the finish line. But instead of feeling exhausted, you will want to go back and do it all over again. The journey is just that good.
Don’t expect anything intricate in this album, because you will be disappointed, as some have been. This is definitely a step in a slightly off-centre direction for Meshuggah. The guitar riffs themselves are still the same polyrhythmic frenzy they have been creating for the bulk of their career, but they have been mostly simplified. However, this fact doesn’t make it bad…not at all. They were going more for flow than technicality, and this album delivers that in bucketloads. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the guitar riffs themselves are bad. “The Paradoxical Spiral” is very good, especially after the vocals end. The guitar and drum duo keep the song on its feet the whole time. Sections of “In Death – Is Death” continue the excellent guitar work. However, every riff is just a taster for the final riff found in “Sum.” At 1:08 begins the best riff Meshuggah have ever created, and is an excellent closer to this magnificent album. I would’ve loved to see it go on for a little longer, but they give you just enough to go back – I can only compare it to a fast-food place giving you a cup of French fries, but they give you just not enough, so you have to go back and buy some more. While that scenario is annoying and expensive, it is not so here. They do it perfectly.
The drumming is also simplified, but it is a drum machine here, and yet you probably wouldn’t know it by hearing it. While they are not quite as technical as other albums, they fit the style here with ease. They follow on with the flow of the album, rather than the intricacy.
The vocals are what you would hear on other Meshuggah albums, but they are always good. I have always considered Jens Kidman an excellent vocalist, but it’s actually the lyrics where they shine brightest. Every word bleeds creativity and originality, and more bands need to follow this example. This is the high point of Meshuggah’s lyrical life so far, and they can easily surpass this (they didn’t quite do that on ObZen, but the lyrics there are still great).
So, with all that in mind, it probably does sound like a bad album. And to some, it is, and that is justifiable. But for those who appreciate what it’s all about, then this is some of the best, flowing music you will ever hear. The lyrics, the riffs, the ambient sections, the seamlessness…brilliant. All of it.
Best tracks: The Paradoxical Spiral, Entrapment, Mind’s Mirrors, In Death – Is Death, Sum
Meshuggah has always been a controversial metal band. Some have accused them of focusing too much on creating something new to even bother making sure that the old parts they employ are next to flawless. Others, however, state that Meshuggah's creativity is a blessing to metal, and that it may very well change metal for the better. After all, countless musicians list Meshuggah as an influence, regardless of genre. Personally, I am part of the latter party, and I think that "Catch Thirty Three" may very well be one of the most creative and brilliant albums ever made.
I recall that many attacked this album (and many other Meshuggah albums) as simply only having various songs that all feature almost the exact same riffs each time. And though that's true (given this is all one 47-minute long song divided into 13 sections of various lengths), what they are able to create with one single riff is amazing.
Their style of making music is creative, in that many songs are recorded with each instrumentalist playing something in a different time signature. This sort of experimentation truly pays off in the long run, as it leaves listeners scratching their heads and wondering just exactly what they heard. A Meshuggah song is recognizable almost from the get-go, with their songs commonly featuring odd time signatures, aggressive drumming and guitar playing, and the signature brutal vocals from Jens Kidman. And this entire song employs the creative lengths Meshuggah is known for, grabbing the listener the moment they hit the play button.
The band also experimented with slower ambient pieces, and these help to transition the listener from part to part, giving them a much needed break from the familiar riff that dominates the main theme of the song. This riff is edited in various ways throughout the 47-minute long runtime, but it's very easy to listen to throughout the whole thing. The lyrics are quite enigmatic, and I heavily doubt anyone but the members of the band knows exactly what they mean. And yet this just adds to their mysterious allurance.
True, Meshuggah is not for everyone. I know of many people who have listened to them before and dismissed them for being too "odd." But if one has the patience and open-mindedness to listen to Meshuggah, then this album is clearly the place to start. It was the first album of theirs I listened to, and at first I truly did not know what to think. But after relistening to it a few times, I saw the genius in their work. Is it flawed? Of course, everything ever made is flawed (here, in particular, the repetition can get a bit tedious). But is it still a fantastic experience from start to finish? Yes. And it's worth every second.
First of all, let me just say that I really, really wanted to like this album. I'm familiar with the way Meshuggah's claim to fame is the way they can absolutely obliterate time signitures/structure/etc, and while the idea of an album consisting of one single continuous song sounds a little like a gimmick to me, I was still interested to hear it.
Don't get me wrong, this disk is as impressive as hell musically, and anyone who thinks otherwise should listen to it again. The "song" immediately goes right into the main musical thread that pretty much carries through the entire 47 minutes; an irregular stop-start, choppy dischordant rhythm that then gets molded and mashed through a whole bunch of different melodic and rhythmic variations as the song progresses.
Overall, though, while I do appreciate the complexity and originality that this band has to offer, I really don't find this release to be particularly listenable. I really like a lot of the riffs and individual moments, they just don't hold up for as long as they get dragged out. There are particular moments, in fact, like in the last minute of "Entrapment," where the song definitely sounds like it hits a rut, and just sort of hangs around going absolutely nowhere for minutes at a time. This sort of thing, along with some stretches of "filler" (like the last 4-5 minutes of closer "Sum"), say to me that it doesn't really have to be this long.
All in all, if you took this song, compacted it down to about 10-15 minutes long, and made it the last track on a more diverse album, then you'd have yourself one HELL of a closer, and it would easily be one of my all time favorite songs. But as much as I love progressive metal, this one ends up being something I really respect, but don't really enjoy listening to.
Meshuggah is simply in a class by themselves. They approach their songwriting from a purely artistic standpoint, paying no heed to bouandries and generalizations. This approach works wonderfully for the band on the group's latest effort "Catch Thirtythree."
Certainly, Meshuggah are not for everyobody. It's necessary to be able to appreciate broader ideas in music than the standard verse chorus verse fare that so often rears it's sometimes ugly head. The music of Meshaggah is a maze-like process, whether the group is slamming through bottom heavy musical math exercises or engaging in tonal experimentations in resonation. You'll also find more about this group that deviates from the norm other than heir abstract tonal qualities. The band completely throws out the three minute thirty second songwriting patterns that make it so easy for some listeners to follow the action. On the first three songs, "Autonomy Lost", "Imprint Of The Unsaved" and "Disenchantment" you'll find each being very similar one- minute pieces of the same musical puzzle, only Mesuggah drifts about a touch here and there, if you're listening closely.
A buzzing guitar riff winds out the third cut and introduces the fourth as the group launches into the disjointed, mid-tempoed "The Paradoxial Spiral", a track that imparts a feeling of detuned vertigo. As the group morphs between Voivod themed spaciness and algebratic trippiness. The space adventure continues into "Mind's Mirrors", a sci-fi flavored intermission that finds Mesuggah providing a cosmic canvass that makes things all the more interesting when the group re-launch into the syrupy "In Death - Is Life". This two minute piece is intended to be a relavant counterpart to the following track, the "In Life - Is Death", a thirteen minute plus exercise in surrealistic thought provocation.
For those out there that would call Meshuggah boring, you're not listening to the same record or you're simply not listening at all. For metalheads that are craving departure from trends, patterns and standards, "Catch Thirtythree" will leave you with exactly that which you are seeking. Enigmatticaly original, Meshuggah are original without question and certainly, one of the most potent forces in all of the world of metal.
MESHUGGAH - "CATCH 33", 2005
Meshuggah is either hated or loved, there is no middle. Since their last album, the slurry and mechanical "NOTHING" (2002), the fans that praised the Chaosphere-ish era were divided with the new material. The slowness of it was too much for some; to others, it was repetitive; to the rest (and that includes me) it appeared to be one masterpiece, product of true evolution. The screw was turned again with "I", with which the band recovered some of its thrashy tempos and the (I think) unanymous approval. In this EP, the band featured a lot of diverse material, changing at a blinding speed. Nonetheless, they declared that this 21-minute-long track predicted nothing from their coming album. Oh my goodness, should I have listened to what they were saying.
Truth be told, when I heard "NOTHING" I said: "This guys can't get any difficult, both in understanding and in withstanding" It required some time to get my ears used to the drilling of their masterminded chaos. The lyrical content itself was a severe challenge. All in all there were a lot of subtleties in this album and that's why it's definitely not boring (against popular beliefs) The polyrhythmic patterns is something you will surely encounter if you are new to this band. So, the band has been apparently striving to worship the pure form, the polyrhythm in its naked state, so the riff is not as important as the pattern itself, taking away the melody of it. The result is hard to swallow. Meshuggah is a band of prodigious musicians, their skill is unquestionable. But if you didn't like "NOTHING", you'll most probably abhor "Catch 33". I must tell you that right now.
I don't know how to express an opinion about this album. Hell, I've heard it lotsa times and I don't even know how to pierce its mystery. At first I found myself speechless. What I supposed at the first moment after listening it was that the Meshuggah guys were upset about the "NOTHING" negative reviews and this record was their vengeance upon those who wrote them. Surprisingly enough, and even though it develops a slower, more uniform style than anything they have ever released, "Catch 33" is not boring. If you thought "NOTHING" couldn't get any plainer and simpler, well, try again. Of course, the rhythm is as complex (perhaps even more) as in the past. But, just to remind you, there was some melody crevice in the solos of previous efforts. Well, none of that anymore. I counted just one guitar solo in this album and it's cacophonic. There is also some catchiness in "I". Not anymore. And it's not just "un"catchiness, most of the music is at first plainly ungraspable. This is a redefinition of their experimental thrashy industrial metal and one cannot mistake it for an easily listenable album.
There are some "illusions" in this 47-minute epic monster. Since the beginning, the hypnotic pattern seems uniform and unchanging, giving you an impression of continuity, which, as you discover after a few listens, is not quite there. Because of this, the unstoppable song's development is a lot more "organic" than the "I" track. Since the song is mostly devoid of melody as we know it, it's quite difficult to remember specifically every turn, except the most memorable (you will remember afterwards the "Mind's mirrors" part). Now, like I've been saying, the rhytms are insanely complicated under the deceiving surface. The simplicity/complexity achieved by Meshuggah is unbelievable and the best example is the jumpy, jazzy part in "In Death - Is Death" (at around minute 5:00) which becomes a vicious riff accompanied by the other ominous guitar in the background. I don't know how they pieced together the whole track, but it definitely sounds as a unity. Far harder, I don't know how they could make something as apparently minimalistic and yet as complex.
The production is perfect, just the opposite to "NOTHING". The bass sounds clearer and more thunderous than ever and it has some lead parts, even though the 8-strings guitar must have had to eclipse it (the fact is, they both sound crushing) By the way, the guitar sounds excellent. The band had already announced that this was more guitar-based. They didn't mean the solos, they meant the chaotic orchestra of riffs. They proved their skill not by doing solos, but by displaying an internal timing that is beyond human capability. The general mood is erratic and slurry. The voice performs some good rhythmic growling or screeching passages, displaying, at least the way I hear it, a greater lung capacity (you have to hear Jens screaming the initial lyrics of "In Death - Is Death") than in previous material. In some of the final tracks, which perform violent and saturated passages, we find some vocalic surprises, similar to the biblical scream of Maynard James Keenan in "The Grudge". I am not sure wether Jens does it or if it's an effect but it certainly is a spectacular climax ("Dehumanization"'s gotta be the most effectively brutal track on "Catch 33"). About the much-discussed issue of the programmed drumming, it's true, Tomas didn't record them live, but you won't even notice. You have to consider this is one experiment and they felt no need of doing it live. Anyway, the drumming sounds realistic enough. You'll hear shit about it, but the drumming will be the least of the problems if you listen and try to understand this album.
A probable reason for some Meshuggah fans to immediatly throw this CD to the garbage disposal is the slowness, the uniformity but also the arid musical landscapes which are provided by some interludes, such as "Mind's Mirrors", the ending of "In Death - Is Death" (where the guitars sound as a distant, irregular chiming) or the finale of the album. I personally didn't found them annoying, because the mind reels and staggers, and not just because of the music, which is slow but showing an impressive progression, but also because of the lyrics. This wouldn't be a Meshuggah release if the theme were simple. The whole package is what you get from this album and it was what you got also from "NOTHING", something that most of the fans forgot. Their metaphysical speculations are mind-blowing, things that mess up with your head. Ultimately, the lyrics DO relate to the musical concept, just the way they did in "NOTHING". The "repetition" of the first tracks, the interlude with the mechanical voice and the changes performed in the second half of the album, which is clearly more "varied" than the first, they all find an explanation in the lyrics (I won't even try to explain the concept, it would take ages)
Well, I'll tell you what. I'll give this album the best rating; my bet is, this 2005's best. Why? will you wonder. Because it's impressive, it can be listened over and over. Because what produces great metal is not complexity but contundency and "Catch 33" scores high in contundency, it will force its way to your brain (do not be misled, "Catch 33" is complex indeed, it could be one of the most elaborate thematic album of the recent decades). Because this band surpassed itself, sacrificing popularity and ignoring the regular fans, throwing away the possibility of making a whole new concert set (which was already difficult by the time of "NOTHING" and plainly impossible with "I", but don't worry, they said a full-lenght is on the way); all this in order to produce an experimental album. I don't know if this is math-metal or what. Meshuggah can be qualified as "extreme" and "experimental" not because of its speed, but because of its purpose of cacophony and the conceptual theme that go with it. This is Armageddon in abstract, hermetic, mechanical, state-of-the-art terms, both in music and in language. I give "Catch 33" the best rating even though it will not appeal to you all. You can only get a warning through this review. I know such an album could end up sounding tiresome for a regular metal fan and I know there is something missing in Meshuggah that pisses their former fans off: they haven't recorded something straightforward and brutal since "Chaosphere"; their last three releases ("NOTHING", "I", "Catch 33") have been experiments, prodding at their own capacities, warming up, proving their talents, and, I would dare to say, defining solidly their style, but I'll tell you this, and mark my words: when they decide to flex all their muscles at a time, and I suppose that will happen with their next full-lenght, beware. This is a sophisticated and intelligent band to be reckoned with.
Meshuggah are a band that are constantly evolving. Whilst they may have started out with a lack of originality on the album "Contradictions Collapse" which owes more to thrash and speed metal, they have took the steps to evolve forward and create more memorable albums. I don't know if "Catch 33" will be their be all, end all masterpiece, as by the way they are going, the next album could top even this!
For those new to Meshuggah, this is music that is abstract and ahead of it's time. Perhaps the answer to keeping metal original is to keep pushing the boundaries and even embrace influences from non metal genres? "Catch 33" takes in jazz complexities to create a truly complex and original 47 minute journey. To describe the sound of Meshuggah, I shall welcome in those who love technical metal that plays at death metal standards. The 8 string guitars churn out some disgustingly low and heavy riffs. The only true emotions to get out of the music and lyrics are paranoia, fear and intense coldness. The lyrics are bleak and philosophical. These lyrics aren't what you would expect from the extreme metal genre. One way of describing them is to imagine how a robot or a cold, angular machine with sharp edges would view humanity if it could process any kind of thought.
What is it that makes "Catch 33" so good? Aside from being a bold and daring experiment, what amazes me most about this album is how much thought has gone into the complexity. So many odd time signatures, yet it never sounds offputtingly busy. However it is a complete mindfuck if you try and follow the rhythmic passages or unpredictable time signatures. Meshuggah have proved that you don't need to be fast to be mindblowingly heavy, as the tempo's on this album run rather slowly. The riffs are chuggy and powerful and succeed in their brutality, not only by using intense detuning but played to rhythms that make them sound hypnotic and mezmerizing.
"Catch 33" owes a lot to progressive metal. This certainly a progressive 47 minute ongoing piece of music. Possibly the only prog metal related album to contain no extended gutiar soloing, endless shredding and wankery! The vocals are so harsh that they sound like Jens is incapable of human emotion. The only real opportunity to find any beauty is in "Minds Mirrors", a cosmic and spacey transition in the album that reflects "Cosmic Sea" by Death, or the album "Focus" by Cynic. The drums have been programmed concisely on a drum machine, but this does not at all detract from the music experience, if anything it makes the experiment more successful and I would never have been able to tell it was computerised drumming if I hadn't read it in the credits. Thomas Haake is an incredible drummer and is so complex and consise and he definitely could have played the drumming if the drum programming wasn't used. The rhythm section of the band is impressive and something they have took time to master. It all falls into place with this album, as hinted by the previous EP "I".
The journey of mind melting death jazz can be summarised in the way that it is a journey. The first 3 tracks may sound similar to the untrained ear, but they are actually different in the way they have been constructed. The slow riff that sounds like a robotic killing machine pounding a human skull into dust keeps on building and building over the first 3 short tracks. This is the idea, to build up more and more. In "The Paradoxial Spiral" the angular riffage drains out into a cold tremlo picking of a single note that leaves the listener in fear until it finally explodes. The album gets more and more brutal until it reaches its centrepoint. Everything calms down a little for "Minds Mirrors". But this track is the mere taking in of breathe before the true plunge into the depths begins. The second half of the album is true annihilation. relentless brutality, more complexity, more interesting and epic. Jens vocals keep the listener on the edge of the seat as they work so freely over offbeat guitars that work like no other metal tune has been structured.
Meshuggah are the future of metal, and to hear "Catch 33" is to be convinced that these guys have actually come from the future and somehow landed in 2005! This is a masterpiece that pushes the boundaries of metal. It's bands like Meshuggah that are keeping metal alive and breathing, and making sure that it can still be original. It may take a few listens to truly "get" or appreciate this work but it is very much worth the effort. This is recommended for fans of extreme brutal metal, and who aren't threatened by complex, technical music. Otherwise I suggest sticking with earlier works such as "Contradictions Collapse" or "Destroy/Erase/Improve". Lets just hope the machine that is Meshuggah doesn't spiral out of control too soon!
Meshuggah have always been a weird, strange band. Strange polyrythmics, esoteric (yet very cool) lyrics, super down tuned, repetitive riffing, over and over again. Sometimes the stuff they write sounds more like Industrial building noise then music.
Of course, it's fairly obvious to say that to fully appreciate a Meshuggah album, you need to listen to it again, and again. No previous Meshuggah album takes as much effort as this album, and I definetly don't blame people who say this is a big laod of donkey balls. One big long song divided into a few parts to make it more accessible. A bit more melodic then Nothing.. but then again, what album isn't more melodic then Nothing?
You probably already know what to expect in this album. There's tonnes of those riffs we like, strange drumming, although It would be unfair to say it's like every other Meshuggah album. The lyrics are probably the best I've ever heard from Meshuggah. The lyrics flow very, very well from song to song, though you'd expect that. I have no idea what the theme of the album is.. But then again, Meshuggah have never been easy to interpret.
There's a fair bit of cool experimentation here. Mind's Mirrors sounds nothing like anything Meshuggah, or indeed, anyone else has ever done. Strange, clean robotic vocals coming out of nowhere, slowly echoing around, followed by some clean guitar that becomes extra dissonant by the time the song ends. Marvellous stuff. WHile a lot of the riffs are the usual bottom five frets of the 8th string deal, there's definetly a bit more innovation in the riffs, a bit more of the fretboard used. THere's also a few riffs that appear throughout the album, and they're used to great effect. Shed is probably the most accessible thing Meshuggah have ever done. Yeah, it's still really, really strange and heavy, but it's got a riff that's actually quite easy to head bang too, and the cool, eerie bits of clean guitar really help it. Probably the best song on the album.
So to sum up, this is a very weird album. Basically, if you like it, you're weird. Although it's easier to get into then say, the Nothing album, listening to it the whole way through takes a lot of endurance. Nonetheless, it is a pretty damn good album, and so if you're weird, you should check it out. A good to play if you want to annoy the neighbours. Best tracks: Shed, Mind's Mirrors, and the epic In Death- Is Death.
If there ever was a band to cause such unneccessary waves in Metal, it's Meshuggah. I always thought it was kind of ironic that the word 'dichotomy' seems to be one of Meshuggah's favourite ideals and lyrical themes, when Meshuggah's music causes one. "Catch 33," Meshuggah's newest album, is a new exercise in brutality brought upon by very ambiguous manners. It also sheds light on the situation that Meshuggah have put people into, here.
Essentially, Meshuggah is the definition of Avant-Garde Metal. Comparing them to their fundamental counterparts would be like comparing Rush to Black Sabbath, the only difference being you can hear up-front what makes Rush sound like they'd define the future of Metal. Let's face it, everyone loves Black Sabbath, but I can't count more Rush clones off-hand than Sabbath clones. Hell, I'm pretty sure all of you have heard of Dream Theater before. Back to my point, though. Meshuggah didn't start with Black Sabbath, nor pissing on Bibles. Meshuggah started with Allan Holdsworth. Since the beginning of Meshuggah's career, they've sounded different, as even though they were one of millions of Metallica emulators, they sounded drastically different. Their sense of theory sounded so far removed from Metal that even if it sucked, you'd still think to yourself: "Wow, what a weird approach." Fundamentally, that is where the line between Meshuggah fans and haters is drawn.
Catch 33 is an album from a band that cannot be confined by genres. Technical Post-Thrash, Progressive Metal, Math Metal, Jazz Metal, Death Metal... Meshuggah's tried them all on, and still nothing sticks. That's the brilliance of Meshuggah, and the brilliance of their latest flag-ship release. Catch 33 is just weird. Meshuggah is a band for weird people to revel in weird music. Their weird theories are converted intelligently into weird audible notions through very subtle manners. Want to know what it's like to be high? Trace one of the myriad of time signatures going on in a Meshuggah song. Try to predict one of Tomas Haake's drum patterns and feel yourself stumble mentally over and over again as you constantly get it wrong.
Catch 33 is brilliant in that aspect because it's so many things but still far-removed from itself. You know exactly what you're going to hear, but it's not what you hear, even though it still is what you hear. The technical differences that are present upon output only vary slightly from what you'd expect, and even though upfront you wouldn't be able to tell the difference if you were just remembering a single riff, but you wouldn't be able to reproduce it either. Being a long-time Meshuggah fan, I knew exactly what was coming after Nothing and I, but even then, I was still blown away after I heard this album. Moments like "Mind's Mirrors" and "In Death-Is Life" and it's counter-part, sister track(The end of "Sum" felt like a Neurosis-brand of redemption) caught me off-guard, even though I knew that this sort of thing wouldn't be far-removed for Meshuggah, it's more like a mystery in why they chose that certain musical route to take.
I've heard people complain about how the first few songs all utilize the same riffs, but when you bring the time of the songs into perspective, these assaults just seem trivial. The first three tracks are pretty much the same riff, yeah, but look at the lengths. Never longer than two minutes. The point of making these songs like this is to set the mood for the album, which is imperative to interpret what you're hearing. The riff slowly gnaws it's way into your head, making a hole just wide enough to put the barrel in. It's not until "Mind's Mirrors" that you start to realize this isn't just a gun, it's a fucking Howitzer.
Meshuggah is all about mentality. I'm not going to say that people just don't understand Meshuggah, because Meshuggah are no great mystery. Meshuggah have just shifted away from the fundamental and conservative aspects of brutality and ushered in an original and potent method that uses structure instead of sound. Overtones instead of bludgeoning riffs off the tip of the latest blast-beat in a series of a million. There's a mindset you have to be in to feel full-force what Meshuggah's aim is, and a mindset to see how incredibly accurately they hit the mark.
(*If you're an active musician, then you're definitely going to pick up on Meshuggah's structurally trippy stylings. Also sample some of the various styles of riffing used here. One thing most people don't seem to understand about Meshuggah is that while their songs do often sound alike, there's such a multi-faceted technical approach to them that if you're a musician, "Autonomy Lost" and "Re-Inanimate" are going to sound as different as a feather falling and a bomb exploding would.)
It's going to be difficult to match the articulated brilliance and linguistic mastery of the previous review, but here it goes. Meshuggah's latest album, "Catch Thirty-Three" is perhaps their strangest offering to date, the reason being that they make use of...a drum machine. Now, after listening to previous Meshuggah albums such as "Chaosphere" and "Nothing", I'm sure that Tomas Haake would be able to play this stuff, so it leaves me to wonder why they opted for the machine, possibly to make this grating music more cerebral than it already is?
This is where Meshuggah is definitely a polarized band amongst metal fans - their music is so damn scary and robotic that it scares many off into mindlessly insulting them as a sort of "math-nu" metal. Label them as one may, Meshuggah deliver what was expected of them, musically, on this album. While it may be indeed "one song", it definitely has breaks and changes, although the opening riff does stretch longer than it should. Kidman's vocals are horrendous and sound even more robotic than on previous albums, but again, they suit the music wonderfully.
Despite the lack of live drums, the musicianship is still mind-blowing, especially in the guitar riffs. Listen to "In Death - Is Death" to see what I mean. Also, as was hinted on the EP "I", there are more instances of strange ambience, "Mind's Mirrors", for example, I can see as a being a turn-off to fans, myself included. In my opinion, Meshuggah should stick with the technical debauchery rather than testing the trance waters. As for specific high points on the album? "Autonomy Lost", as well as its musical successors are powered by a familiar sounding riff ("I", anyone?), "In Death - Is Death" is over 13 minutes, and is a difficult journey to get through, but incredibly scary in musicianship. "Personae_non_gratae" is likely the most difficult song to head bang to ever, as well as the follower, "Dehumanization". The album's closer, "Sum" ends with a long scream, and ambience to conclude this work.
As others will no doubt inform you, this album is definitely not for anyone, but if there is somewhere to start with Meshuggah, "Catch Thirty-Three", in my mind, can be considered their most accessable album. Give it a chance. To borrow a quote from my friend: "You have bands like Tool and Floyd bringing emotion and love to music...and then you have Meshuggah, bringing the mathematics of hell".
Just you try it on.