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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.