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If there ever was an album that was unfairly thrown into obscurity, its 'Contradictions Collapse'. It's not perfect, but it still qualifies as a great metal album if not compared to the bands later catalouge. Meshuggah's signature style of mind-bending metal was not fully developed in their first LP (obviously) but it still does stand when compared to most other death metal acts at that time and is one good step musically better than most. It's what you would expect as a debut album from a band that are arguably at the top of their game now, even if it does not hold up to their other albums. It is still better than alot of other metal out their anyway.
The production on 'Contradictions' is clearly not superb, but it is still listenable and allows the music to be progressive. Everything is low quality but very easy to listen to and get into. The songs are very catchy and detailed, which even mediocre production can't ruin. It almost sounds like one knob or so got turned wrong and jerked the balance a little bit. The guitars feel a little bit left out and just too quiet, which brings the atmosphere of the album a little less intense then it could have been. The drum sound is a bit cheap and the snare is minimally annoying at times, but rarely. Aside from these set backs, the production doesn't leave anything completely out. The bass and vocals are very clear, and the production never truly distracts from the technical excellence of the album.
The metal on this album is very heavy, fast, technical and satisfying. The riffs are staccato and fly all over the place. The guitar does not sound like any thing else out there. There are dozens of strange time signatures and sudden tempo changes which catch interest. The guitars are thick as hell and sound like heavy, heavy rocks being thrown around. They puncture your ears if turned up to loud (thats a good thing). There are occasional acoustic parts, they do not sound glam or power-balladish. The clean parts abolish the staccato, but keep the strange time signatures. Overall the guitar riffs are generally short but provide alot for the album. The tempo often changes from rapid-fast to mid-range to slow. Sometimes it's not a great switch, but most of the time it works just fine.
The drums are just as interesting as the guitars, somehow. The performance of the man behind the set is just magnificent. The drums sound totally different than the guitars, but they still manage to fit the music near perfectly. They sound as if each last snare and cymbal are playing in different worlds, but they still. The drumming is hyper techincal, and is staccato like the guitar, with just as many tempo changes. In all honesty, Meshuggah have one of the most talented drummers in extreme metal. The drumming is so techincal, it's hard to air drum to. Seriously.
The vocals are standard fare, though. They sounds just like most other thrash bands out there, with a crunchy voice and the ocassional chanting quality to them. They are done generally well, the lead man was a good choice. The vocals are not prominent at all, the real focus is one the sonic guitar playing and blasting drums. The vocals are by no means terrible, but they are very easily forgotten. They don't offer very much to the album.
I would recommend this album to anyone who likes techinal death metal, or progessive metal for that manner. I would not recommend this as your first Meshuggah album however, their future albums are certainly better. The flaws lie in the fact that the album is a little repedative. The songs are catchy and technical but are almost indistinguishable from one another. They may be a bit too technical in places, and leaves the listener not being able to remember too many riffs after the first few listens. That being said, it's still a good progressive metal album and is a solid debut for Meshuggah.