without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
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.