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Holy mother of GOD! Like seriously this album just destroys everything into dust. There’s no other way to put it. And a quick reminder for all of you out there, this was way back in 1998! Unfortunately it would take another 4 more years after the release of Nothing in 2002 for Meshuggah to slowly but steadily attain the level of popularity that we attribute to them today. Sandwiched between DEI and Nothing, unsurprisingly Chaosphere has absolutely nothing in common with either of the aforementioned albums. This is Meshuggah and they play only by their own rules after all. At first the album will sound like one long inaccessible slab of pure noise, but repeated listens will prove otherwise and your ears will begin to dig through the relentless mayhem. I mean Meshuggah as a band is quite inaccessible, but even by their standards, this is one of their hardest albums to get into. All you newbies out there would do well to keep that fact in mind.
Then again it doesn’t really help the fact that the opener “Concatenation” is one of the more inaccessible songs on the album, which is one of the instances when I get the reason why both the detractors and casual fans of the band usually shun this album over more accessible works of the band like Nothing or obZen. But then again, give it enough time and patience and you will begin to see the brilliance of this album for what it is. Also this is without a doubt Meshuggah’s heaviest and fastest record to boot, with the band rarely taking their foot off the gas, with the exception of probably “Unanything”, the slow mid-paced groovy assault of “Neurotica” and lastly the eerie hissing hammer attack of “The Exquisite Machinery Of Torture”. Otherwise it’s a constant pummelling of your senses, left right and centre till the very end. The mosh-inducing “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled” is probably the fastest song on the album and I also I have to mention one of the most underrated songs of Meshuggah - “Corridor Of Chameleons”. The shifting grooves and the super-fast vocals in this song are to fucking die for. I would seriously kill to hear this song live. Pity they didn’t play it on their obZen tour when they came down to India.
Here Thordendal completely eschews the melodic smooth jazzy feel of the lead-work in DEI (Acrid Placidity, Sublevels etc) for an out-and-out free-form crazy atonal jazz style which is really hard to make head or tail of to be honest, especially the first time you hear it. The dialling of a telephone or the computing/calculating noises made by the droids in Star Wars come to mind. Completely whacked out, chaotic, weird and unnerving as hell. But I’ll be damned if it doesn’t fit the music like a glove. After hearing this album umpteen times, it’s quite apparent that no other solo style would fit the music better. Speaking of whacked out, wait till you hear the last song “Elastic” and be spooked out for the rest of your life. This song is the literal soundtrack to non-humanoid aliens ravaging our planet for resources sending their machines to carve up the Earth and its resources into fine dust. Horror-inducing insanity. Check out the ultra-tight breakdown at 1:31 where you really get to hear the crunchy sound of the guitars and the hallucinogenic guitar solo soon after. The part of the song at 4:14 till 5:55 where that breakdown is repeated while the lead is slowly detuned is one hell of a mind-bending effect leading up to the the crazy reverberation effect getting louder and louder with every passing minute till 11:20 where it’s a mix of all the previous songs being playing at once at double the speed. Sweet Satan what a fucking song! To quote two YouTube comments that summarize this song perfectly -
“I would probably kill myself with the nearest utensil if I heard this on LSD”
“The day I play this song is the day the whole world gets fucked up and destroyed by the strange grey goo matter”.
No shit son. No shit!
The calm vibe of “Unanything” is a much needed saviour after the ravaging madness of the previous 8 songs. Kidman’s vocals on DEI were more of an angry growl/shout but here it’s a pure hardcore shout mirroring the jagged riffs and unsettling atmosphere of the music. A match made in hell. Also who can forget one of their live favourites for the last decade and the headbangers ultimate delight “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” stretching your sinews to the breaking point? This song along with the foot-stompingly brutal “Sane” (listen to that fucking breakdown!) are two of the more accessible songs on the album so I would advise you check them out first before moving on to the whole album.
Even though I don’t agree with this, I’ve got to give one thing to the detractors of this album: it can be a bit mind-numbing and boring to sit through 8 tracks of uber technical polyrhythmic metal all cut from the same fast-paced relentless cloth and let’s face it - to the untrained ear, all the songs can easily sound like one another which is the most common compliant all the detractors of this album and band. Plus one of the most common complaints people have about Meshuggah which (supposedly) holds true even for this album: Too many of the riffs sound identical/similiar due to the exceptionally low-tuning of the guitars. To this I say, bull-fucking-shit. Sure the guitars are tuned really low, but that just means you have to pay much closer attention to the guitars to make out the slight variations in the riffs and the subtle but formidable technicality in literally each note, which (in my opinion) is where a lot of metalheads fail, simply dismissing the album after a couple of spins. A heck of a lot of patience is required to break through the inaccessible mist surrounding this album and if you ever thought any of their other albums was too hard to get into, wait till you listen to this one. I’ll leave it at that. But to a die-hard metal fan of all things technical, brutal and complex, this is pure auditory bliss.
Meshuggah have been a band whose work has been hailed as being 'ingenious' in nature, and their influence on modern metal is without question. Moreover, the band's sheer talent and skill is legendary, managing to take technical metal to heights where one must be as good a mathematician as they are a musician to match it. However, regardless of Meshuggah's great reputation, one question remains; do they make good music? As far as their third full-length 'Chaosphere' is concerned, the answer remains ambiguous to me. Barring the great amount of acclaim and love others have for them, 'Chaosphere' remains a distinctly unpleasant album to listen to, and not necessarily because I am opposed to extreme or experimental forms of music. Rather, Meshuggah proves to us here once again that they can play circles around most other bands, but their singular approach to making music wears thin after only a few tracks. Although Meshuggah perspires brilliance on the drawing board, the final product emerges rather lukewarm.
Downtuned guitars chug along through endless repetition, layered down with some brilliantly technical and precise drumming. Instrumentally, Meshuggah is more or less a one trick pony with 'Chaosphere', with the exception here and there of some atmospheric guitar textures. Besides that, Meshuggah forces a sonic assault upon the listener, than lends itself to no stop or sense of dynamic. Throughout an entire song, the riffs are not built around melodies, but rather around rhythms. In fact, in the music of 'Chaosphere', it comes as a bit of a minor shock to the listener when a note changes. Suffice to say, Meshuggah focus themselves almost solely around rhythm, and even use the guitars as a means to this end.
The vocals of Jens Kidman also add to the incredibly abrasive texture of this album. Although the lyrics are fairly philosophical and intelligent considering the aggressive nature of the music, the way he shouts through each track rarely feels as if it contributes much to the music, ultimately becoming about as monotonous as the rest of the sound. Through all of this tedium though, Meshuggah's strong points still manage to make it something of a worthwhile listen; although the album generally sounds the same throughout, there are a wide variety of different and unique time signatures being used that would be virtually impossible to fit into some sort of cohesive music in many other cases. Also, the band are very good at creating grooves, some of which becoming fairly memorable to the ear, although this can likely be attributed to the sheer repetition.
Unfortunately, 'Chaosphere' is one of those cases for me where the acclaim and my expectations have been not met, and not by a long shot at that. Certainly not a pleasing or even much of an interesting listen here for me with 'Chaosphere', but the band's talent, uncompromising attitude, and raw aggression do come through intact.
Look, this is a problem. Can those people play? Yes. Is the production of a high level? Sure. Is this album enjoyable? Fuck no. This is the first album of Meshuggah I hear, and hopefully the last. What the hell are those guys smoking? It is not because you can do something that you should. Randomly copy-pasting powerchords and putting a drum pattern under it, yeah I can do this shit too. Even with words, look:
“Meshuggah sucksuggah suMeshcksuuggah suM”
See? This is art. This is progressive art. NO this is progressive technical art! All joking aside, I have great respect for the musicians that play this music, it’s truly difficult and technical. It’s a pity that it’s worthless… Technicality and difficulty for the sake of it is very wrong. Look, Outworld is technical, progressive and whatnot. But there’s a bigger plan behind every song and each has individuality and identity. That’s a concept the guys from Meshuggah have never heard about I’m afraid. Why so many people carry them on their hands is a mystery to me. Is it elitism? Snobbism? Or are all of those people drummers? I can see why drummers could enjoy this.
The album sounds like some kind of machine falling down the stairs. Repeatedly. As a result, all songs kind of blend into one long boring random song. I’m sure they could fix a lot of things with a better singer, now it sounds like every vocal line is interchangeable within the album. That's the case for most of the guitar parts as well actually, it’s like Lego metal. Wait, Lego comes from Denmark right? I guess it’s a Scandinavian thing.
Now look, if you like aimless math-metal already, or you don’t care about melody or structure, or you have the urge to be “different”, or you are a drummer: you probably will enjoy this album. I didn’t. So I gave mine to a drummer I know. He was happy.
Chaosphere epitomizes the core attributes of metal, it is deafeningly resonant, it is headlong and relentless in its sonic assault and it is tailor made for engendering psychic disintegration slowly leading to the depths of complete chaos and derangement. The music is not only intense but its just raw and highly dense, it definitely is not just an attempt at complexity but still is a near impossible feat to be emulated. This record has this complete lack of ambiance, there are no elements which can remotely be associated with musical coherence. Chaosphere has an unprecedented originality which complements its extreme density to such an extend that there is hardly any room for dissection and re engineering. In other words it is seemingly impossible to identify the DNA of Chaosphere. There is no single root to this sound, it is daunting to recognize the inspiration or the influences of such a crass din, there is no way someone can write a fitting review for a cacophony or a Chaosphere.
Start playing this record, you can hear the omnipresent pounding of drums which is as good as someone ramming your skull on to a concrete rampart, the down tuned guitars riffs are monotonous and repeating throughout the song, not to mention that there is no tinge of refinement to this music, its just raw crude noise which interestingly sounds aggressive as heck. "New Millennium Cyanide Christ" is slightly more evolved sound compared to the rest of the record, this may be the reason why this is popular, the very next track "Corridor of Chameleon" is slightly more groovy and is like a prelude to their subsequent album "Nothing", in this song the trademark Thordendal's synthesizer sound was like a short lived respite from the otherwise ravaging music. The riffs in Neurotica is extremely reminiscent of early Metallica, interestingly for once I was able to catch a glimpse of one of the influences which drives this unique band.
Repeated listens to Chaosphere gave me the feel that Meshuggah has actually fused all their influences in an absolutely elementary way. They are rebuilding the music in a bottom up fashion, in other words they combine the atoms and molecules of thrash, jazz, technical death, progressive & math metal to create a new soul to the sound. The blending is so deep rooted that you can expect only these rare momentary flashes of liberation where your intriguing mind get a glimpse to their actual musical influence. This explains the rawness in their sound and also since the influences are not combined in its evolved form they tend to be not so rhetoric and this results in a complex, dense and rustic feel. It is beyond my logic as to how they managed to make this album so addictive, usually my musical preferences are driven by the feel and ambiance of the music and not the factor of loudness so Chaosphere was definitely looking like an aberration in my play list.
A record like this need not have any lyrics at all, Kidman can vomit gibberish and still create more than enough interest in the listener by the sheer musical brilliance. Actually the concept behind their music was the biggest compelling reason for me to explore the lyrics, interesting enough the same crudeness exhibited in the music reflects in their lyrics too, needless to say that they are far from being poetic. Songs mainly talk about different facets of human psyche, the themes range from duality of human nature to the ironic cold weariness of the life, opportunism, causticity and insanity. The lyrics are direct on the face and hardly seem to have any hidden agenda. In the world of Chaosphere, the lyrics are like a parallel universe which just runs out of sync with the music, there is hardly any prominence to lyrics when the compositions do not have any atmosphere to speak about. The very lack of ambiance makes Meshuggah very intriguing, it was very tough for me to explain how can a sound like this satiate the musical appetite of any human brain at all but repeated listens did give an answer to that.
One very interesting peculiarity of Chaosphere is the fact that it is impossible to comprehend the music within the first few listens, the very first listen is bound to rack your nerves and confuse the heck out to an extend where you will be clueless as to what had hit you. Even though Chaosphere introduces itself as a hard hitting aggressive record, it slowly reveals more during the repeated listens. The album slowly opens up after a dozen or more listens and the intimidating density will slowly ease, the earlier crude feel is more and more replaced by a surrealistic touch which is amplified by the guitar synths. This strange congregation of polar influences will start showing some real elegance and flow only when you are able to train your ears to get through the exploding drums and listen to the guitar and the complementing vocals. This is exactly when you realize the inherent dual nature of Meshuggah's creation, it gives a strange feeling where you wouldn't know whether to go on a rage or just stand still and revere the genius of this creation.
Meshuggah is definitely not for a casual listener, you need to give the music a real patient listen to be in concordance with a sound which is exploding in all possible directions. Now when I listen to Chaosphere I hear only a train of instruments exhibiting a million textures germinating a fervid whirlpool of thoughts which can find its place only in a surreal nightmare. The onslaught ends only when the record ends, after which you will be left with a strange lull which incidentally happened after the storm.
Contradictions Collapse was a thrash metal album that was interesting for thrash metal, but not even close to interesting compared to what they were to become in later years. Destroy Erase Improve was completely different than Contradictions Collapse, while still keeping much of the thrash elements. They added a lot more interesting polyrhythms, which they would later become famous for, and even jazz fusion elements. It was clear right away that Meshuggah was not going to become the next Slayer in that they were certainly not going to rerelease the same album throughout their entire career. In fact, they have become the exact opposite.
Enter Chaosphere. Where to begin...unbelievable technical skill, the lyrics are more mature, much more consistency within the songs and throughout the album as a whole, and most of all: this album is infinitely more intense than their previous two releases. Their now famous "New Millenium Cyanide Christ" is to date alongside "Bleed" as one of their most intense, heavy, and blood pumping songs they have released. Every time I listen to it I feel like my brain is literally being raped by the porn star Evan Stone, especially when the horrifyingly unique solo kicks in. All I have to say about lyrical content is this: "Corridor Of Chameleons." Read those lyrics while listening to that song and be amazed by the amazing poet, Tomas Haake. Also, don't forget to pay attention to the impossible time signature mind fucks present in that and every other song on this album.
The album doesn't get worse from there...the mechanical "The Exquisite Machinery Of Torture" is one of the creepiest and uneasy songs I have heard. You can actually feel Kidman's fury when he screams the chorus to "Sane." Speaking of sanity, you will find absolutely none of that in the closing track "Elastic." Meshuggah has released some pretty crazy tracks in their career, but "Elastic" actually makes you feel like your losing your grasp on reality.
Meshuggah, Devin Townsend and Mastodon are probably the most unpredictable bands in metal. Who the fuck would have expected to get Chaosphere after Destroy Erase Improve. Better yet, who the fuck would have expected to get Nothing with it's groovy, slow dark feel after their most intense, fast paced release yet? Or the 47 minute epic Catch Thirtythree? Meshuggah never fails to keep my interest and seems to get better with every release. Even so, Chaosphere still somehow seems near perfect. If you have been living under a rock since 1998, lift that rock over your fucking head right now and experience Chaosphere.
Meshuggah's Chaosphere stands as their most heavy, fast, and brutal album to date. It's literally like getting fucked (although I wouldn't know) in the ass brutally whilst getting punched in the face super hard by a drill instructor who's yelling at the top of his lungs at you the entire time. It never fails at being punishingly heavy, and if you need some serious rap-repellant, Chaosphere does the trick. It's boisterous, loud, crazy, loud, oddly-timed, loud, furious, and loud. Did I mention it's loud? Certainly this is what every housewife thinks of when they think of stereotypical metal.
Surely such an album can't be bad, can it? Well, if you're in the mood for mindless thrashing, this isn't bad at all. Unfortunately, I find that nowadays I never listen to it all the way through. I wondered, because on the surface, this is the same as every post-none meshuggah album. Loud and heavy guitars, polyrhythmic drums, and drill sergeant vocals. What's not to like? Well, for one, once you get over the novelty of the heaviness, the approach wears thin and it gets quite boring. Sure, it's loud and heavy, and so was Nothing, but I remember every song on Nothing, and whenever I listen to Nothing, I feel the need to robot dance. In short, Nothing was catchy and had actual songs on it that piqued your interest. Or how about Destroy Erase Improve? It had jazzy undertones that greatly helped its atmosphere. In fact, every other Meshuggah album had discernable atmosphere. There is none to be found on Chaosphere.
This concept cannot be pinned down to any particular aspect of the music; it's intangible, but I can definitely feel the absence of atmosphere here. What it really is, is that there's no reason for Chaosphere's existence other than to be heavier and louder than the competition. That's the reason Chaosphere comes off as being so trite: there will always be someone louder and heavier. To achieve lasting value, there needs to be a musical statement being made. There needs to be a reason for its existence, and no such reason exists. There are riffs, but the riffs are blanks; they make a loud "BANG!" and attempt to fool you into thinking they are the real deal, but when they're over, there's none of the bullet-like effects, and the listener is unaffected by them. They're musical empty calories.
Chaosphere is not bad, by any means, in the sense that (at least in my opinion) funnyuns aren't bad. However, there's no musical value to Chaosphere, like there is no nutritional value to funnyuns. It's good to listen to when you need fast, heavy, loud, and brutal. But if you actually want to get something out of the music, look elsewhere in Meshuggah's catalogue, you will not get anything out of Chaosphere.
Of course, the presence of filler doesn't help things. The one song everybody seems to like, New Millenium Cyanide Christ strikes me as the "let's play power chords over and over again so we can be heavy" attitude that makes mallcore so terrible. Neurosis has a similar quality, and also receives the skip button. And when you consider that a good 7 minutes of Elastic is just random noise, you can't help but wonder if Meshuggah were artificially inflating the running time.
There are good songs on here, but compared to other Meshuggah albums, the feeling is very transitory, and lacks any lasting value. Unlike other classic Meshuggah songs, you really can't remember anything on Chaosphere. For that reason, you will often find DEI, Contradictions Collapse, or Nothing (especially Nothing) in my CD player more often than Chaosphere. There's simply more to hang on to on those other CD's than there is on Chaosphere.
'Chaosphere' was the first Meshuggah album I ever acquired, and as it stands, it's the one I have the most mixed feelings about. Coming off the heels of the magnificent 'Destroy Erase Improve', the music on the following album dropped a great deal of its original post-thrash roots in favor of pure industrial/technical brutality, consequently resulting in a great deal less variation and a great deal more focus. This is the favorite album of many dedicated Meshuggah fans for precisely this reason: it earmarks the absolute cementing of the band's style, and when you think of the music that Meshuggah does, a song like 'The Mouth Licking What You've Bled' is probably what pops into your mind: refined technical aggression with ultra-low chugging riffs, atonal tapping leads, brutally ejaculated vocals, and an overall sense of attacking the listener from as many angles as possible, all wrapped up in a bow of bizarre time signatures and bombastic delivery and production. It is, however, a somewhat bittersweet change: there's roughly no chance of Meshuggah ever going back to the style on 'Contradictions Collapse', and, at least to me, that's somewhat regrettable.
In truth, though, I probably owe more to this album than any other in the world. My entry into the world of true metal was courtesy of a live Meshuggah concert when they were (rather inexplicably) opening for System Of A Down. When they began their performance, my tiny twelve year old brain was nearly incinerated by the pure brutality, heaviness, and incomprehensible technicality of their performance. But the true epiphany came when they played the second track off this album: 'New Millennium Cyanide Christ'. It was at THAT MOMENT, when that first massive tech riff came in, that I knew that metal was my future. There was just some switch that clicked when I heard that song, one of the classics of the Meshuggah pantheon, being played. For months after seeing them, I downloaded Meshuggah MP3s essentially nonstop, but then discovering other artists as well: Morbid Angel, Gorgoroth, all the other extreme metal bands that quickly grabbed me. So on the strength of that song alone, this album easily holds a certain place in my heart and always will.
That being said, now that I'm more well versed in Meshuggah and metal in general, this is probably their weakest album. Due to the new single-mindedness of the compositions, you can easily describe the music here as being extremely brutal and technical, but also extremely repetitive and laced with a lot of filler. There are many memorable sections, but they aren't memorable in a particularly positive or negative way: a specific rhythm/riff pattern just gets caught in your head for no reason in particular. 'New Millenium Cyanide Christ' is the obvious masterpiece of the album: the riffs are positively crushing, the rhythms are deeply complex, but most importantly, the songwriting is some of the finest in Meshuggah's extensive catalog. It's perhaps the most flawless example of Meshuggah's militaristic might: sections of two time signatures, one common time and another one of Tomas Haake's bizarre bass drum configurations, interweave for long sections of musical space, diving in and out of rhythm, before a half second of silence occurs at the end of the stretch, at which point each band member simultaneously piledrives the music back into action with a collective roar. Additionally, the lyrics are some of the best in Meshuggah's history; I remember poring over them when I was younger, in absolute wonder of something so brutal, fantastical, and intricately crafted.
'Concatenation' is a pretty vicious opener with its flurries of atonal chords, and 'Corridor Of Chameleons' is pretty good all around; additionally, 'Neurotica' has some of the best vocal lines I've heard in Meshuggah's discography. But after the cool first half, the album really fizzles out with another four songs that really don't do anything but qualify as pretty generic Meshuggah tracks. Granted, having fifty percent very good tracks is significantly more than most bands are able to do, but considering that this is Meshuggah, it results in a weaker album that would probably be better as an EP composed of the first four tracks. That being said, I do love it; all the songs on it are ones that I heard when I was younger and when everything in metal was completely novel to me. But objectively? No, this is probably the least essential release by Meshuggah, despite the opinions of many of those who are already fans. It's certainly worth a buy for those who love the Swedes' style, but for the average metalhead, the previous release is much more promising.
I thought I'd give this album a try after being slightly disappointed by Destroy Erase Improve. Sure, that album is technical and thrashy, but it lacks a certain something- perhaps a cohesive quality. Meshuggah want to be Metallica one moment with catchy hook rhythms, and then Herbie Hancock on acid the next, mixing out-there jazz fusion guitar with technical thrash...or something. In any case, everybody knows that Meshuggah's main draw is their headbangability and serpentine time signatures, which DEI certainly possesses, but it still lacks a key element. Oh, right: brutality. It's heavy, I suppose, but more in an Atheist sense than, say, a Morbid Angel sense.
Chaosphere absolutely obliterates DEI on every level imaginable. Picture a faster, more confusing, more destructive version of that album without the lame jazz fusion guitar interludes and you'll have the essence of Chaosphere. The melody is decapitated right off the bat with Concatenation, a complete mindfuck of polythyhms. This is Future Breed Machine on steroids. There are no catchy, sing-along parts or introductions. Jens simply starts screaming so intensely you can just picture the veins in his forehead popping out. A nice, completely atonal solo from Frederik fills out the middle of the song, along with some great guitar melodies. Then, just as you're starting to understand everything, the music comes crashing down on your face like a brick wall and the song is over.
This is the essence of Chaosphere. Where DEI toyed with slightly normal minor and major intervals and melodies, this record inserts mind-warping, twisted guitar work that complements the band's sound far better. The atmosphere is intensified, the simplistic guitar riffs (any real Meshuggah fan will admit it: most of their songs have about 5 notes, not counting the solos) aren't as noticeable, and the vocals are pushed to the forefront when needed and into the backup mix when the focus is on the instruments. Haake's drumming is at once catchier and more memorable while being ten times more complex than anything he did on DEI. The polyrhythms lead places instead of just stagnating. All in all, it's a truly amped-up version of everything prior in Meshuggah's catalogue. Interestingly, this makes everything seem catchier as a result of more careful, precise organization, although it's noticeably more brutal.
New Millenium Cyanide Christ is definitely one of the most metal songs ever recorded. Written in 23/16 (if I'm not mistaken), it's by far the catchiest and greatest song Meshuggah has yet recorded (as far as DEI and, Selfcaged, and this go). Check this one out if you're "on the fence" about the band.
Corridor of Chameleons, Neurotica, and The Mouth Licking What You've Bled are all great tracks, featuring more stellar guitar solos (which are thankfully much more frequent and better-orchestrated on this record) from Frederik and awesome riffs aplenty. Sane and The Exquisite Machinery of Torture aren't quite as good as the first five tracks, but are by no means boring, showing off some experimental sides that Meshuggah would later pursue on Catch Thirty-Three. Elastic is fifteen minutes long, yes, but only about five of it is the actual song (which slays mightily), the remaining ten being made up of distorted guitar feedback and all the other songs on the CD played in reverse at the same time. It's quite pleasant to listen to if you can get used to it, actually, and it's fun to try to pick out the songs.
All in all, if you're looking for a more progressive Meshuggah, pick up DEI. But if you want sheer brutality in a savage pack of metal insanity, don't pass this one up.
Imagine sitting in your living room, quietly reading a book. The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting. Then KABOOM!! An explosion in the front yard knocks you out of your seat. The windows smash. People are screaming in terror. Disorder and panic ensue.
This is akin to starting Meshuggah's 1998 release "Chaosphere". No introduction, no warning, just straight into the unrelenting, brutal music.
Many fans (and haters) believe that "Destroy Erase Improve" was the start of this band becoming popular. While it was a good album, in terms of brutality and catchiness, however, "Chaosphere" shits all over it. This, for me, was the start of Meshuggah's excellence.
The usual jazz intermissions and melodies are nowhere to be found here. Instead, it is dominated by ultra-crunchy guitars and pin-point drumming, never relenting to give you breath. From start to finish, all the instruments just pummel you until you're a bleeding wreck.
The guitar work really gives this album it's heavy edge, surpassing DEI in all facets of playing. It's crunchier, faster, and the riffs are more thought out and played much tighter.
The very best example of the quality of riffing is at 0:13 into "The Mouth Licking What You've Bled". At first listen, it sounds like just a plodding riff which doesn't really go anywhere. Repeated, and deeper, listens will reveal that the secret to this riff being as spectacular as it is is the drummer. He's keeping the 4/4 rhythm with the hi-hat, but he's doing something else (7/8, maybe?) with the snare drum. I have tried, and repeatedly failed, to replicate it. He is a master.
The strangest thing about this album is easily the outro on "Elastic". At 4:13, the song riff suddenly changes, turning into single hit drum-guitar pieces, with atmospheric guitars in the background. Then, at around the 6:00 mark, a weird reverberation sound comes in, getting louder and louder until your eardrums nearly burst. Then that finishes at 11:18, with the first three tracks being played at the same time, and then it suddenly ends at 15:30. Definitely a strange way to end the album, however it seems almost fitting to the music. Not for the faint hearted (or hearing sensitive!).
There are plenty of catchy riffs throughout the album, and it would take forever to list them all here, but guaranteed, this album will never get boring, as the endless polyrhythms will keep you guessing and coming back to refresh what you just heard.
So, is this their heaviest album? Definitely.
Is this their best album? Well, no. While it's the catchiest, 2002's "Nothing" does surpass this.
Will Meshuggah ever create another album that recaptures the intensity of "Chaosphere"? Who knows. Hopefully.
All I do know that if you're a fan of intense, insane, and completely off-kilter music, this has to be in your collection.
Best tracks: New Millennium Cyanide Christ, The Mouth Licking What You've Bled, The Exquisite Machinery Of Torture.
I've heard a lot of metal bands and more than plenty metal songs. This album is really something special. In my book, this is absolutely the heaviest album of all time.
It's not heavy in a Mayhem "look at how much noise we're making!" type of way, but in a kick the doors down crunchy and nasty way. The guitar sound on this album is out of this world, and the performances by Tomas Haake (drums) and Jens Kidman (vocals) are legendary. The songs are not so much songs, but like the output of a giant machine chewing the earth into dust.
Concatenation gets the fun off with a blast, with one of the most chaotic, insane blasts of hell ever created. The next series of songs are the real gems here, with New Millenium Cyanide Christ and Corridor of Chameleons with excellent riffing that would have you headbanging in a business meeting. Neurotica has a crazy tribal beat, and damned if the song won't get stuck in your head. This leads into..
The Mouth Licking What You've Bled, one of the most incredible works ever put to magnetic tape (or into a computer, depending on your perspective). This song is as heavy as heavy can get. It will blow the doors off your house (or car), for real. The guitar solo in this song is one of the most mesmerizing lines a person ever performed on a musical instrument. It further proves Fredrik Thordendal is a master of his craft and one of the great musical geniuses (not to say ill of Marten Hagstrom, who is a master in his own right). The rest of the material is great too, Elastic being an excellent song and you'll remember Sane from the True Human Design e.p.
This album is so incredibly dark and forbidding that it may take a few listens to find a home in. Once you do, it's clear. This album is a landmark among landmarks in the immortal canon of the Meshuggah library, but a must have. This album kills.
After it came out I wondered where Meshuggah would go next, especially after putting the exclamation point on death metal with the miracle that is Chaosphere. Thankfully Nothing came out and didn't push the envelope as much, but bent it in a new direction, but that is a review for another time.
Damn, and I thought Nothing was the ultimate in Heaviness. THis album makes Nothing sound as easy as a Nickelback album. Furious guitars, super odd ball guitars an drums.. just one long slab of noise.
There's no room to breathe here, as millions of super odd time riffs just come at you, again and again. While later releases give you a lot of time to breathe, and even allow a bit of groove to get through, there's none of that here. None. Just tonnes of super busy riffs that are ultimately off kilter, being backed by some of the best drumming ever. Tomas Haake is amazing how he pulls off these beats I have no idea. Try New Millenium Cyanide Christ... How many time sigs is he playing??? Amazing.
All this talk about strange riffs and polyrythmics..Most bands who try to do this sound like crap, but Meshuggah manage to pull it off, because they're one of the few math-metal bands that realise odd ball riffs aren't everything. Every riff is full of passion, every riff is full of anger, and that's the odd paradox about Meshuggah. You get some off the strangest, most machine like music ever but there's still plenty of humanity in some form or the other. Maybe that's just me though.
Still, there's a few problems here. Meshuggah riffs are well known for being repetitive, but it's very bad on this album. Worse then the later stuff, definetly. Most of it consists of one or two notes being played in a very fast and off kilter way. While it's quite good, it takes a while to really understand the riffs. But that's always been Meshuggah for you.. Only repeated listening can reveal to you the secrets that the riffs hide. The vocals are fairly weak too, as I've mentioned. Kidman doesn't let any really long screams go through, most of the vocals are off kilter and choppy like the guitars, but for the most part it doesn't work, indeed the vocals even come off as nu-metalish at times. The lyrics aren't quite up to the amazing abstract stuff that's in the later albums, but that's fair enough, I guess. Still, comparing some of these songs' lyrics to the stuff in say, Glints Collide or the whole of Catch 33, you can see that Meshuggah had a lot to improve.
Nonetheless, this is a very good album. It's not Meshuggah's best album by a long way, but it's probably their heaviest, which surely counts for something. Well worth getting for strange people who like strange music.
I'm not sure what the big hype is about these guys. I didn't see anything special. This is the second album of Meshuggah's I've heard, and guess what? THEY BOTH SOUND EXACTLY THE SAME!!! And what's all this "technicality" people are talking about? I'm not seeing any. Every song is pretty much the same thing, aside from a 20 second solo every here and there. None of the solo's are even all that complicated either. There aren't even any good riffs, its all basic chord shit. The drumming ain't that great either, so I don't know where "drum genius" came into the picture here. And the vocals, oh the fucking vocals. At first they were okay, but after a while I couldn't stand them! The guy has no fucking rhythm. Its all just yelling like an angsty constipated teen. Rather sickening if you ask me.
There are a few listenable tracks that are thrashy and enjoyable...but really nothing outstanding about this album. Or any Meshuggah album for that matter.
Warning, if insane works of art bother or scare you please don't listen to this cd. It's like a nail bomb going off in your head puncturing your brain tissue. Drummer Tomas Haake yet again proves his brilliance. Tomas actually recorded this whole cd without any guitar scratch tracks or a click track. Just him, his drums, and his brain to keep time!!! I will be head bangging to New Millenium Cyanide Christ until the day I die!!! The opening riff is insane, and I have no idea how they came up with that. THE MOUTH LICKING WHAT YOU'VE BLED has to be one of the heaviest, most insane sounding songs ever. The middle part of the song is increadible how they layer the guitar and drum patterns. Sane is another great song. Elastic is my favorite on the album. It has such a unique sound to it. This cd is just increadible any way you look at it. The production could have been a little better. Too much high end and the drums tend to get lost in the mix at times. I highly recomend picking this cd up along with their Destroy Erase Improve cd. All hail Meshuggah!!!!!
Most of the songs might sound too similar but if you follow the beat of that hard hitting guitar sound, you'll be able to tell the difference from each song. Also those tweeky sounding solos that come up help distinguish the songs from each other by creating a different atmospehere.
When other bands try too hard to sound heavy they sound generic but Meshuggah manages to only sound like themselves, creating their own identity in the big vast metal scene. They have their own unique heavyness in their brand of extreme mathematicaly timed music.
The guitars sound like jackhammers, hitting fast and stopping for less then a second to start hitting again. Nice brutal sounds. The lyrics are interesting, the track, "New Millenium Cyanide Christ", talks about Jesus Christ being a cyborg or something. My favorite song from the album.
The vocals throughout the album are the same fierce shouts but there is one track that sounds like a little creature is talking real fast, "The Exquisite Machinery of Torture", the one song that sticks out from the rest.
Meshuggah is one of my favoirte bands and this the one album I got an actual copy of. This and Destroy Erase Improve are the best albums they got, everything else they did I could go without listening, their other CD's are mediocre.
My grade for Chaosphere, 85%, it's a superb album but I still kind of feel like I'm listening to the same song over and over after listening to the album hundreds of times already. Good stuff though.
One other band that sounds like this is Ion Dissonance, just check them out if you really dig Meshuggah in this album.
This is the most solid Meshuggah album. It takes everything they do well and throws it together to make an insanely agressive, technical, brutal album.
The first thing you hear when you listen to this album is a barrage of staccato riffs and Haake's godly drumming going all over the place. Then, Jens breaks in with his vicious voice and shit just rolls on. Fredrik Thordendal (AKA God) pulls out a solo that sounds like R2D2 on crack.
Then, the best song of the album, New Millenium Cyanide Christ comes in. This is where Tomas Haake shines with his lyrical writing abilities. Although the lyrics on this song aren't as complicated, they have a clever side to them that finalize the song. This is most likely Meshuggah's best song ever.
I could go on about some of the other songs, but out of lack of energy, I'll just have to leave some of the album to your imagination.
Some other notable tracks are "The Exquisite Machinery Of Torture" which is like an experience all in itself. Definitely a different song.
And finally, the final track on the album, Elastic, which kicks mondo ass. Plus, the solo may very well be one of the best Meshuggah have also done. It's very jazzy.
All in all, if you're a Metalhead who likes a little technicality with his brutality and wants to try something out of the ordinary, Chaosphere is your album.
However, if you're a sissy or a female, or just some asshole Elitist who refuses anything out of his specific genre, you'll probably barf on this album.
Extreme. Chaosphere is a departure from all rules of music and song structuring.
The album is dense, obscure and totally un-natural. There is so much going on in there that at a certain point it gets annoying or cacophonous. And that is exactly what drove my attention into it. How these guys came out with these songs, I just don't know. I always thought that it is not easy to drive emotions, whichever they are, onto music. This albums proves my opinion wrong. And these guys were really angry.
You can find lots of new elements in Chaosphere. The groove from "None" and "DEI" is gone. There are no more regular time bars mixed in. The vocals become an instrument, odd meters take over confronting all rythm patterns and the riffs are not present by themselves as guitar driven parts, but they are an integral part of the songs, a part of the whole "mess".
Also, the entire concept is dark and depressive. In-your-face vocals, the balanced mix with all the instruments present and the highly compressed production just adds another dimension the the sound of the band, making it even less-accesible for the regular (or average) metal listener.
I don't even know if I can call this progressive, since it has lots of characteristic elements that help define Meshuggah's own style.
And since any other band, so far, sounds like this, I think this album is another huge step in ther musical evolution. It is a hard album to listen to, but once you understand a small part, it's all downhill from there.
Meshuggah isn't for everyone. To those who do find technical and odd time signatures, polyrythms, and almost no melody enticing, then this is a pure treat. Amazing guitars, insane drums, great screaming, and overall craziness(hence the name) are all over this album. These guys can truly make something special. I don't know how many fucking times I've heard "HuHuh CHug CHug this is shitty 1 don't understand teh noize". It truly does piss me off that so many people dismiss such a great band because they "don't get it". Meshuggah deserve much more praise than that. They are eons ahead of horse feces like Cannibal Corpse.
All of the songs here are fantastic. "Concatenation" took weeks to decipher everything that is going on. "New Millenium Cyanide Christ" is my second favorite Meshuggah song behind "Future Breed Machine"."The Mouth Licking What You've Bled" has very complex riffage going on as does "Sane". My only nitpick with this album is that "Elsatic", while a great song, should have been longer, possibly 10 minutes or more to fill up that space.
Overall, great album. Mandatory pick-up if you are a fan of technical/extreme metal \m/
I am a fan of extreme metal. I like brutality. I also like ability to play. I picked this album up for the customary $14.99 at Best Buy, and took it home hoping to hear something truly mind boggling. What i got was, yes, skull crushing...but skullcrushing in a sense of "what the hell did i just buy." Pondering why i would ever have picked this album up.
Since purchasing this album, I have come to the resonable conclusion thatMeshuggah is likely the epitome of overdramatiscized talent sniffing More at, the bastion for people who want to listen to things they think contain talent, and only for that reason. This album literally bored me to tears. This technicality i have heard so much about seemed to pull this album into a vast monotonous chug, which assaulted my very serotonin levels and nearly put me to sleep.
How a band could ever pull such an abomination off, and not be labeled nu metal is beyond me. Complex timings? Skullcrushing Breakdowns? Fusion??! I have heard/seen all such descriptions of Meshuggah based ENTIRELY on this album, and unlike the previous reviewer, i have yet to see something noteworthy about this (or any other meshuggah albums for that matter.).
These complex timings my ears and eyes are so fond of being informed about, virtually do not exist on this album. I point to songs such as "Corridor of Chameleons" and "New Millenium Cyanide Christ" and a few other tracks that are not even worth mentioning. These complex timings seem to only exist to their fans attempting to create a reason to like this band. I hear nothing but basic pattern drumming that all bands have done at one time or another, with the occasional change which for any other band would be considered a "fuck up" in playing.
Skullcrushing breakdowns? A term i have only heard in description of this album, And i wonder if i am sure of what a breakdown is, as my skull has yet to be crushed, and i am left with a sense of "Coal chamber mixed with pantera, bred with static x" on this (and all) of their releases. If any fan of this band can point out a "skullcrushing breakdown" to me, E mail me at Znarglaxe@aol.com with the exact point in the song and what song it is in.
Finally, the Fusion question. I am still in the dark as to what kind of fusion is happening on this (or any of their) album(s). I fail to sense anything more than sacrificing dynamics for "technicality". Is it Jazz? there is literally no jazz fusion. Nothing even remotely jazzlike comes up in this album. Is it techno? Since when do we infuse a genre with impeccable dynamics, and credibility with a genre of vast monotony? I see no fusion here of any positive kind.
Overall, my rating of this album obvisouly reflects my view on the band as well. Chaosphere (The battle standard of Meshuggah fans, it would seem) has shown to me, that Metal truly can delude itself with ideas of false talent, and monotonous "chug" riffing.
One parting question to Meshuggah fans: Is unvarying sound, sacrificing dynamics, and making it "technical" a true source of talent? Or is it merely a desire to be original? Good day.
I originally bought Chaosphere in late 2000... and hated it. I could rarely sit through the entire album, and regretted paying $15 for it. All of the songs sounded the same, without any variation. But as time has passed, I've grown to appreciate it more and more.
The technicality is truly astounding, outshining--by and large--the entire metal genre. Thordendahl and Haake are among the top performers at their respective instruments (guitars, drums), and the remaining members are more than competent. The bass playing is more evident than on most metal albums, and along with the guitars it creates one, huge, crunching rhythm, while Haake often blasts away in a different time signature on his kit. Kidman's vocal lines tie in with the music better than just about any album I can think of, although I can't describe it as well as I would like. He stresses syllables on words on certain drum hits, and lots of small things like that, which make for a very technical vocal performance, something not often seen in extreme metal.
And last but not least, perhaps the most impressive part of the album are Thordendahl's absolutely impossibe, out of this world, fusion-esque leads. They create a climax for each song, and don't feel out of place or tacky. If you play guitar or have knowledge of how it is played, listening to these leads is reason enough to buy the album.