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There I was, new year's morning 2013, having my coffee, enjoying my pipe, and checking to see what was new here on the archives. I was scanning through the post concerning the policy change for band submitters, and there it was, this strange word that I had seen before but thought not a whole a lot about, but seeing it here piqued my curiosity. This word, 'djent,' looked weird and worth a few clicks and keystrokes. I was thinking maybe this is some sort of Eastern thing with tablas and sitars and shit, since it is quite uncommon to see an English word beginning with a 'dj-' sound. I assumed the vowel sound would be pronounced as the short 'e.'
Oh my jesus fuck how my little mind was blown! I soon discovered that this word is not only an onomatopoeia sound for the digital crunching that this band does, but is now considered (by a few tards out there) a sub-genre of heavy metal.
You all already knew that.
Well, I don't pay a lot of mind to news, controversey, debates, cyber-babble, or my physical surroundings. So the guy who "coined" this word, a mouth noise that was in use long before Beavis and Butthead graced our cathode ray tubes, is trying to distance himself from it. He'll have to change out of his little sister's pants into gym shorts and cling to his cocksucker hat if he wants to run. Now, I hate between-the-buttcrack-and-me as much as any self-respecting hesher would (cheers to the operators of this website for EXCLUDING those fucks!) but I was sitting here at my desk thinking, this can't be real, this noise can't be having actual MEANING lavished upon it. But no...
I was a teenager in the nineties, and therefore exposed to a lot of alternative shit-metal. My brain was befuddled with the likes of Tool and other crapola. As a Tool fan, I knew that their guitar player really liked these guys, so I checked 'em out. And yeah, this thing really blew my mind. It wasn't death metal, not quite thrash, but clearly very technical and highly abrasive. It was extreme.
In 2009 I went to San Francisco, and at the very end of one of those damnable hippie-loving avenues was a little black store with a big black vibe. We went in, everything was black, the walls, most of the decor, and black metal blaring from the speakers. This fine establishment was called Shaxul Records. We had great conversation with the proprietor of this business, spent a lot of cash, and returned the next day for more metal and metal dicussion. My little brother was wearing a Tool shirt that day. So eventually the dude behind the counter kindly but thoughtfully mentioned he didn't sell Tool shit there, because, as we know, Tool's not metal.
That day was a break-through. An epiphany. I was already underwhelmed with Meshuggah's 2008 album obZen and losing interest in this monotonous group. Yes, "Bleed" was a cool song, but goddammit, sitting through any entire album by Meshuggah is like begging for a headache. Now I was ready to admit that. Now I was ready to begin my journey back into a better, vanished time.
As for this fucking 'djent' business, the blame may well rest entirely on the shoulders of this album's third track, "Soul Burn." But wait a minute, that's a 'schwa' sound there, so that e needs to be turned upside down, the t removed, and the word pronounced 'djunn.' Anyway, "Soul Burn" was popularized by Jack Osbourne on his reality TV show circa 2003, and that was a huge plug for Meshuggah, and I daresay that's what put them on the map, or above ground, or allowed them to quit their shitty regular jobs.
"Future Breed Machine" is truly a good song. Aggressive, cunning, bold, brutal. There's the 7/8 machine gun riff happening in the middle, which was the hook for me in my younger days. Sadly, that was the only song that Meshuggah ever NEEDED to do, because everything since then has been a variation of that. You can tell that these guys listened to a lot of Rush and King Crimson, and probably waaaaay too much Metallica. (Listen to Meshuggah's early stuff, sounds like Metallica with European accents trying to be technical.) They were proficient players but void of any concept of melody. Take away the atonal crunching and the weird timings and you are left with very little.
The poly-rhythms and permutations that made this band famous are pretty cool and at times innovative. Thomas Haake is a gifted motherfucker, but a one-trick pony. Each song here, and since this release, basically dwells in a half-time 4/4 with synchopated kick and palm-mute permutations in, say, 25/16 + 3, which is techy and all, but c'mon man, every fucking song? And any time they attempt to add 'dynamics' like clean guitar sans drums, or auxillary/electronic percussion, I tell you, King Crimson has done all that already, and Adrian Belew can actually sing. Jens Kidman is just a barking mouth of monotone. He doesn't even write lyrics. What does he do? Make sandwiches?
If these guys had died in a plane crash after this album they would have been immortalized, or at least would have left a respectable legacy, but they lived on, and the chicanery became an increasingly workman-like and dull redundancy. Nowadays when I think of Meshuggah all I can see and hear in my head is the white noise of the pixelated ray-tube of the nineties that was left on after I passed out on the couch. Static. Nothingness. Maybe that's the idea, with albums called "None" and "Nothing," but I'm through with it.
There are ten tracks on offer here, so I have awarded the score based upon the one and only necessary track, the first one. And if you are a short-hair, or EVER wear a fedora, or your sister's jeans, or gym shorts while attempting to play heavy metal, fuck off and die. I'm quite sure Meshuggah would concur.
Meshuggah are a groundbreaking band for many reasons. Not only have they managed to refresh their ideas and their lyrical concepts from album to album, they have also introduced new elements to the burgeoning death metal scene of Sweden and on an international level as well. Exploring death metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, jazz fusion and avant-garde metal and melting them into a horrific sculpture of art over the last twenty years, they added a polyrhythmic aspect into their unique sound. All of this truly began in 1995 with their second full-length effort Destroy Erase Improve; an album that has shaken heavy metal forever and became the benchmark for everyone who claims to be as experimental as every other band.
Starting with the legendary hymn “Future Breed Machine”, you can immediately tell the ferocious aggression that this Swedish quintet possesses with Jens Kidman’s frantic and possessed wails, Peter Nordin’s subtle bass lines, Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström’s scattered sub-human riffs and Tomas Haake’s impeccable and calculated percussion. This song immediately caught my attention with its speed, its precise and somewhat solid structure, and also its unpredictability, when near the second half of the song, a jazzed-up passage makes its way into the nervous system of the song. It blows away every preconception that you might have about this band, especially when Thordendal unleashes a discordant and almost computerized solo near the four minute mark, making this opener is one of the best in metal history, period.
“Transfixion”, “Vanished” and “Terminal Illusions” possess the same characteristics mentioned here. However, some songs tend to lean more on groove like “Beneath” with its calm introduction and its multi-dimensional, almost bouncy riffs, “Suffer in Truth”, with the thunderous percussions and the agonizing, low tempo that invades it and “Inside What’s Within Behind” as well, with its experimental aspect, vocal-wise and structure-wise. It uses a lot more variety than any other songs on this album. “Soul Burn” has that same effect, but explodes into a polyrhythmic fury after its first half. After all this, the band finds its equilibrium in “Acrid Placidity”, a short but impactful instrumental with its echoic riffs and its artificial atmosphere.
Finally, we have “Sublevels”, the best track of this album in my view with its labyrinthine passages, its jazz fusion-influenced elements and its spoken-word performances. The riffs are furious, yet crystallized moment by moment. The percussions are intricate and very mechanical. At the end, everything fades out into a void of confusion and suspense.
Overall, Meshuggah have opened the doorway for experimental metal by introducing beyond-philosophical meanings and paradoxes into their lyrical content, polyrythmic and acrobatic textures into their sound with Destroy Erase Improve, making it an immediate classic and an unmatched effort, even today. It is the paradigm shift of the 20th century that redefined metal music and introduced a whole new signification to it.
Note : 90/100
Standout tracks : Future Breed Machine, Soul Burn, Transfixion, Terminal Illusions, Suffer in Truth and Sublevels
For those who are not yankees and therefore may not know who Ben Stein is, he is an actor/comedian who is known for talking in a very monotonous voice at the same pace.... every line, every movie, no matter what emotion he should be showing. It's funny when Ben Stein does it, but not when a couple of really technical Swedes try it out. Imagine Stein getting extremely pissed off, and honestly screaming for about 45 minutes, all while bashing some household items together and kicking an electric guitar. That's a pretty decent description of Meshuggah. They have garnered a fanbase about as large, blind, and stupid as Opeth's by playing super technical chugging, pseudo groove-thrash riffs. Don't let the word "technical" confuse you, this isn't overly technical like Necrophagist tends to be, there aren't notes all over the place and random ass melodies for no reason. No no, this is quite the opposite. The songs are on average about four and a half minutes, some being a little over three minutes and others being just shy of six. Long songs aren't bad, but I can count about four notes per song. I'm not joking, when there isn't a disjointed and rhythmically challenged "solo" being thrown at you, the entire record is repetitive and meandering chug riffs that evolve about as much as a fucking dinosaur.
I can draw a lot of parallels to Opeth here, as they both share a similar rabid fanbase, for reasons I can never understand. The riffs are all, ALL, boring two/three note riffs that move along for about a minute and a half, all with the "uber technical" drums driving the riffs along, with bullshit crappy screaming and atonal (the bad kind, not the cool Slayer-esque atonal) solos with zero sense of rhythm. Sure, solos aren't supposed to be strictly rhythmic, but I've heard similar solos from my little brother when he first picked up a guitar when he was 11 and just flailed on the high E. The leads aren't the main problem though, it's the goddamn "riffs". There is an average of about three "riffs" per song, and they all consist of jumpy chug rhythms in bizarre time signatures.
The tag "progressive" is attached to Meshuggah a lot, and this makes about as much sense as an inflatable dartboard. This music never progresses.... EVER. I move for the metal subgenre naming committee to change "progressive" to "talented", because that's all that seems to be needed to label a band as a prog band anymore. There is no denying, they super complex time signatures and admittedly impressive drumming style of Tomas Haake prove that these are all talented men (barring that god awful vocalist). Haake's drumming is unique in the sense that he apparently (this means according to Meshuggah fanboys, so I should probably be skeptical) drums with his top half in 4/4 time, while his feet play in whatever complex polyrhythm the current song is in. This unfortunately means that every song has a basic snare/cymbal routine going on while the drums beat in exact time with whatever monotonous riff is playing.... ie: boring ass drum patterns that do nothing to captivate the listener.
My god, this album is torture, I'd rather take a drill bit sodomy. I won't lie, it starts off cool enough, Future Breed Machine happens to catch you at first. It's actually kind of catchy, yet at the same time annoyingly monotonous. You start to hope that maybe it'll get better, and that they inexplicably chose the shittiest track to start off with. Well, you'd be wrong. Future Breed Machine is sadly the best song on the whole abomination of a record. Acrid Placidity gets an honorable mention for not descending into the chugga chugga snoozefest we'd gotten used to by that point in the album. It is still needlessly discordant and stupid though, which really sucks. These guys are obviously immensely talented, but just as with Opeth or Dream Theater, they can't write a captivating song to save their life. Every last song is just a showcase for how precise of musicians they are. That's all well and good, but one cannot get by on technicality alone.
Another bad album by a relentlessly overhyped band. Part of me really wants to enjoy this, but I just can't. The riffs are monotonous and boring, the vocalist just screams at the top of his lungs for the whole time without any change in tone or delivery, the drums are technically impressive, but sonically boring as hell, and about as entertaining as watching old people fuck.
If only this full-length was released after the previous one and following two. One could quite easily state that it (DESTROY)ed Contradictions Collapse, it (ERASE)d Chaosphere from the memory and it (IMPROVE)d upon Nothing. Meshuggah's often chaotic, generally aggressive and undeniably technical approach to music is what has given them their rather large fanbase over the years. With a massive following comes a love/hate relationship. Generally when a band gains a certain amount of recognition their fans divide. The long standing fans who have seen it all and love the good old days and the newest fans who love the here and now. Meshuggah are a band whose fans fall exactly into that category. Although I haven't liked Meshuggah for long, and don't necessarily like them that much, I can't state precisely where I come in all of this. So, i'll sit on the fence and try to give an impartial opinion.
Destroy Erase Improve follows a pattern. It's chaotic, much like every other release the band have issued to the world. It's based around technicalities and it fuses melody with aggressive to create an unstoppable force. Though a pattern exists, it's quite an unusual one given the fact that Meshuggah's sound has quite clearly changed. The pattern exists in the form of the underlying goal. The idea is to portray your lyrical themes, which are dowsed in emotion and raw feeling, in a manner that is incomparable to anyone else. Through sheer creativity and innovative exploration, Meshuggah have made a sound unlike anyone. Given that fact, Meshuggah deserves some credit. Though with several bands emerging on the scene that play a perhaps better style than Meshuggah's jazz fused brutal assault, Meshuggah are losing touch with reality. A sheer lack of structure is what they would find if they opened their eyes.
It's difficult to make something that no one else has in this day and age. They do this through using two very different styles. The first being a highly technical side and the second being a very industrial base. Experimentation is the name of the game. Though this is a very risky game. Odd time signatures are usually Meshuggah's downside when it comes to the audience. Odd time signatures are again a persistent nuisance throughout. They detract from the atmospheric touches Meshuggah attempt to add. They lack direction at times and can force the music to become somewhat subpar and cause it to lack substance. It makes it very hard to hold a high opinion of the music. Riff after riff churns out in an aggressive manner. The vocals are even more so aggressive than the riffs. The firm, forceful and self-assured vocals have always been the main negative for me. I can't get into them at all. They irritate me and sound robotic, which I suppose suits the music which has a very mechanised feel.
Meshuggah is not an artist whose style changes with every album like Sigh, nor do they exist in a completely static artistic realm like Bolt Thrower. In each sequential album there is a change; albeit one a great deal more subtle than in most artists. Play any two Meshuggah albums side-by-side and you'll likely only first hear the erratic, piledriving guitar chugs and barking vocals, and probably for the few listens after that. And there are people that find great joy merely in those barest of techniques that the band uses, merely enjoying the odd time signatured pummeling that the band delights in. To those who listen a bit more closely, or to those more versed in the band's music, however, more details are collected: the delicate shifts of mood, texture or atmosphere, the subtle, polyrhythmic dance, where instruments play along out of time for some strange number of measures before falling like a perfect hammer into the lockstep rhythm of the section's beginning. But on that fall, there might be something new; a change in cymbal, a minimalist, sinuous lead, a few extra scattered beats placed ever so precisely in the morass of thick, monstrously stormy riffs. And it is indeed a set of features and emphases that many simply cannot appreciate: these are merely not factors that a large number of people can truly find enjoyable. But for those that do love the machinelike assault of this artist, there's not one that does the style better.
'Destroy Erase Improve' is, at least in my estimation, Meshuggah's greatest work. On their earliest works, Meshuggah had resembled an extremely developed, apocalyptic form of thrash metal; after this album, on 'Chaosphere', the technical and industrial elements of the band came to dominate their style, essentially completely excising any of their identifiable thrash metal past. The material on 'Destroy Erase Improve', however, forms the bridge between their two styles, with more of the traditional song structures and identifiably melodic riffs of thrash as well as the extremely technical aspects of their later works, and this marriage creates their best release, being both satisfyingly experimental and technical as well as grounded in perceptible song structures. Consider it the Meshuggah equivalent of Gorguts' 'From Wisdom To Hate', though unlike that album, Meshuggah's second LP can't be viewed as any sort of concession to the audience.
The opener of this album shows why it's so crucial in Meshuggah's discography: 'Future Breed Machine', arguably THE Meshuggah song, is not only the band's perpetual closer to every live set, but practically the band's definitive musical mission statement. It is easily one of the finest songs the band has ever written, with each section being memorable despite the almost quintessentially unmemorable style that Meshuggah plays, at least to those more unfamiliar with the intricacies of their style. From the grinding machine-sound intro to the sudden burst of strobing searchlight lead over traditional Meshuggah mechanical devastation, then suddenly moving into a sudden post-thrash riff before the vocals begin, every second is completely memorable and completely perfectly designed. There are numerous high points beyond it, the most obvious of them all, though. 'Soul Burn' is a personal favorite, with its high-speed delivery and staggered, doubletracked vocal lines. 'Terminal Illusions' is possibly the most straightforward and aggressive track on the album, also notable for its surprisingly direct anti-religious theme as opposed to Meshuggah's typically abstract meditations.
The very best on the album, however, would be 'Suffer In Truth', a track that's slower pace and pounding, martial performances create an even more ominous than normal atmosphere, especially when combined with its air-siren leads that circle ominously above the battlefield below like so many choppers. Experimentation is, as stated before, very readily present: mellow ambient instrumental 'Acrid Placidity' forms a well-placed intermission between two of the most aggressive tracks on the album. But the most obviously atypical track is probably closer 'Sublevels', which eschews most of the typical chug in favor of a more subtle, slowly descending fusion-influenced track, with drums, quiet guitar and spoken word vocals forming the body between occasional bursts of ferocious grinding.
Some criticism could be leveled at perceived filler: 'Vanished' or 'Inside What's Within Behind' probably aren't as strictly necessary as the other tracks on the album, but I'd say they help establish a more solid bedrock for the music to build upon, with the more unique tracks building off the more 'standard' ones. No, 'Destroy Erase Improve' does not have the absolutely single-minded focus of essentially all of Meshuggah's other albums, but it is all the better for it: this is easily the most varied of all their albums, and also the one with the most unique songs, as opposed to later releases which generally feature about half excellence and half album expanders. And to be honest, the music here is simply a great deal more memorable than on most other Meshuggah CDs, with enough of their thrash roots to give the songs a more cohesive yet varied structure but still maintain the distinctive musical flavor of the band. If any Meshuggah album was to be described as 'essential', it would probably be this one, even for those who typically dislike the band.
Fun fact: A live version of 'Suffer In Truth' is what encouraged me to pick up drumming.
Life is but chaos, a swirling vortex of sequences and events yet to unfold... however there are few certainties that are readily apparent;
- The pokemon franchise will never die until it has consumed our souls
- I will never get to sleep at a reasonable time unless I pass out
- Meshuggah will keep getting praise as long as they play in obscenely ridiculous time signatures despite not writing any discernible riffs.
Maybe I'm too uncultured; just tonight I was drinking large quantities of very cheap beer (rather affectionately referred to as 'wifebashers' in this country) on a patch of grass as part of an event for a faculty I don't even belong to. I was aiming to have my liver rupture violently, instead I'm writing a review at 4 in the morning, and clearly something went wrong. Regardless, metal isn't necessarily about being proletariat or sophisticated but in that same field of thought one really can't deny musicians the right to express themselves in whatever manner they wish. But enough of my mental wank; I hate Meshuggah, they are over-rated.
It's not their fault; they just do not impress me. Being able to play in utterly ludicrous time signatures that don't make the music sound like an abhorrent mess is surely something to give credit and praise but ultimately it's hollow. It's a gimmick, something shiny to distract the gullible whilst the band snort lines off the ass of a hooker. And of course like everything that comes along and is technical, the band are lauded as saviours of metal and possessing talents far beyond that contained within our mortal shells. If you don't like them you're a filthy Nazi who should be exiled to the 'Outback' and thus face off with an evil empire of koalas in a fight for their own survival. Of course this is pure hyperbole, although I have heard rumours that the Crocodile Kingdoms of the north are ready to strike since our national 'defender' is down and out.
Admittedly with this release Meshuggah at least retain some credibility maintaining a decent amount of speed for some tracks, of course this leads to their labeling as thrash metal. The problem is to be a thrash metal band you have to write riffs, and swinging at your guitar with a hammer at odd intervals does not constitute riffs (note the plural). Weird and varying time signatures are interesting, but when restricted to the confines of generic 'post-thrash' riffing it loses all substance and purpose. The solos are quite awkward, having an unusual tone and texture. Within the confines of this album they seem to work, they give off a cold and electronic feel which helps to contrast with the mechanical, chugging riffs. The album is the musical equivalent of a factory. Ultimately I dislike the riffing which means I think the solos are complete ass; they just don't go anywhere or do anything constructive. They sound all bleep-y and bloop-y, and when I have to use kindergarten language to describe music you're doing something wrong. Most importantly the album runs together all too easily; the rapid-fire, but at varying time signature chord bash gives little character to each song and even the solos within each song don't help to alleviate this debilitating hindrance. The only landmark within this album is track 6, mainly because it is devoid of any chugging riffs and is essentially an ambient piece. As soon as you get to track 6 you realise you've just wasted 24 minutes of your life and you have 3 minutes to decide if you wish to waste another 14 minutes. The rest of the instruments within the band serve their purpose effectively, of course they're all in wacky time signatures. Admittedly it's nice to have a band with a bass line that is audible for a decent length of time.
To actively listen to this music would be folly; honestly it is terrifyingly depressing to notice that you're only one metalcore step away from listening to a Lamb of God album and kids, that's one road no one wants to travel. It works well as background music, it also garners bonus points for making you look and feel tough when you play it really loud while driving.
Score: 35% ~ boring boring boring. And they only get worse from here. Recommended if you're a fan of post-"Cowboys from Hell" Pantera, otherwise you need not apply
Meshuggah is one of those bands who get a crap-load of praise and a crap-load of criticism by metalheads. Meshuggah's second album, "Destroy Erase Improve" shows exactly what Meshuggah is about: Heavy, technical, robotic riffs, and inhuman barks and growls, with subtle, yet powerfully difficult, drumming.
This album created that formula, and it is their thrashiest album while still be insanely technical. From the start off song, "Future Breed Machine" to the last song "Sublevels" and the calm, jazzy interlude "Acrid Placidity" Meshuggah shows off its technical prowess. Metalheads claim that Meshuggah's songs all sound the same, while this may be true from some of the filler tracks on this album, FBM, Soul Burn, Acrid Placidity, Suffer in Truth, and Sublevels all stand out.
Although the other tracks may be filler, they do not detract from the importance of this album. "DEI" is an album that cannot be copied, not even by Meshuggah themselves. It hits you in such a way that you find yourself saying, "Wow, what did I just experience?". Whether you like the album or not is a completely different story, but you cannot override its importance to the fledgling half-thrash scene.
This is perhaps Meshuggah's best release. Now, I love their later releases, but they do tend to descend into a barrage of montonous riffing (with the possible exception of 'I'), and of course with Contradictions Collapse, they hadn't quite found their distinctive sound. This has all the things you would attribute to Meshuggah: the downtuned polyrhythmic riffing, excellent drumming keeping everything tight as hell, and the cold, emotionless and machine-like shouting of Jens Kidman and hushed spoken whispers of Thomas Haake.
But this seems to have more depth than their other releases. Why? Because this has some of the most hauntingly beautiful melodic passages I have heard for a long time. I started with the Chaosphere release so I was actually quite pleasantly shocked when I first head these short but essential passages. They're not so much a breather from the aggressive parts (which they are) but more of a development of the song as a whole. It's these passages that makes this the best Meshuggah release so far (the next being 'I' for the same reasons and it's bold experimentation). Okay, it makes them more listenable to people, but is this a bad thing? I'm all for an all-out sonic assault but this has so much more class.
With the almost unique polyrhythmic barrage of technical drum work, the crushing riffs (simplistic yet effective) and also these wonderful, sweeping melodic parts, it's the most complete of all their releases. I am left fully satisfied after listening to this particular album, something that I very rarely find when listening to a lot of other releases of this nature.
I could ask for no more from this album.
This is the first Meshuggah album that I owned, and the album that would eventually get me into melodic death metal. As much as I hate Chaosphere and Nothing, this is an excellent album. It's inventive, unique, and thrashy, all at the same time. And in fact, I don't see how it would be possible to not headbang and mosh to this album.
"Future Breed Machine" greets us first with a very futuristic sound to it with a death alarm sounding throughout. Tomas Haake's drumming is some of the best to come out of the country of Sweden, where the band also happens to hail from. Plus, the rhythm guitar work and riffs are very heavy as well. Vocals are shouty on all tracks, as the vocalist sounds a little like Max Cavalera of Sepultura. "Beneath" is the next track, and starts out with sharp lead guitar work at its onset, before working into a heavier riff pattern. Once again, the drumming is out of control, but very good at the same time. "Soul Burn" has a nice guitar solo from about the 2:45 to the 3:38 mark, and also features some excellent riffing. "Transfixion" is more thrashy and less groovy than the songs on either side of it, and once again, there are some brutally heavy riffs and solid lead guitar work. The drumming on "Transfixion" and "Vanished" has to be seen to be believed, it's amazing the eye to detail that Haake shows to his work.
"Acrid Placidity" is a fairly mellow-sounding instrumental, highlighted by the lead guitar work. "Inside What's Within Behind" has a pulsing rhythm in the beginning, and then works into those crazy off-beat drum rhythms that have defined Meshuggah's career. Then, at about the 2:35 mark, a softer, yet spooky sounding interlude works in, before ending on a heavy note. "Terminal Illusions" is full of stop-and-go riffs and thrash-style drums, after you get done headbanging to this song, your head will feel like it's ready to fall off. "Suffer In Truth" is the next track, is the most cohesive of the songs found here, with not as much staccato being used as on the other tracks here. Instead, it is a groove-based track, as the rhythm here is fairly steady. "Sublevels" is softer, but ends on a strong note, with a good guitar solo at the 1:52 - 2:40 mark.
If you're into death, melodic death, or industrial metal, this is another can't miss album. If you're looking to get someting from Meshuggah, DEI is the best place to start.
Meshuggah's breakout success Destroy Erase Improve, which has often been called the best industrial thrash album of the 90s, along with Fear Factory's Demanufacture and others, is a testament to the band's awe-inspiring technicality and brute force.
Every song showcases Fredrik Thordenthal's incredibly off-meter guitar-playing with its often alien-like tone, Tomas Haake's precise drumming, and Jens Kidman's arrogant drill-sergeant barking.
Whereas their latest album Nothing blended from one song to the other almost seamlessly and each song had an unceasing, thick, crunchy groove, DeI is more focused and more thrash-oriented. One should not call this band thrash however, as they are not. The tone of the guitar is not indicative of the genre and the soloing is not parallel either, although it is quite masterful on the album.
Beginning this chaos is Future Breed Machine, which sounds like judgment day, where all the robots have started taking over the world. Industrial noises begin the song, then a piercing siren takes over for a couple seconds before erupting into a total onslaught. Headbanging to this will most likely give you whiplash.
Beneath is nothing to call home about. Soul Burn begins with a pounding slow groove before whipping into a schizophrenic fury of guitars, leading you into one direction before jerking you into another. Jens Kidman sounds especially great on this song as well, his syncopated vocals in the chorus added extra rhythm to the song.
Transfixion and Vanished keep the train rolling until Meshuggah hit us with the unexpected instrumental Acrid Placidity. Wow, this is incredibly ambient and lulling. All you metal purists will be surprised to learn that Meshuggah has a soft side.
Unfortunately, this is just an instrumental track, and we don't hear Kidman singing in a beautiful voice like Burton C. Bell might do on a slow track.
This is meant for you to catch your breath. The next three songs are the same old ass-kicking Meshuggah until the last track Sublevels, which is an ominous instrumental closer. Meshuggah continues the trend of closing their albums with an odd little instrumental on Nothing, and I think it works very effectively.
Some bad things about this album are that you never hear Kidman with any melodic vocals, and though it may be trivial, it's a bit bothersome. Also, as a previous reviewer said, the songs tend to be difficult to distinguish from one another. Many bands and albums fall victim to this, however.
If you think it's bad on this album, just wait until you buy Nothing. You'll see what I'm talking about.
Another thing that bothers me about DeI is that Tomas Haake's 'voice' isn't on here, or if it is, it isn't too prevalent. You know what I'm talking about---that cute cyborg voice that adds pleasant variety to Meshuggah's already unique sound? Well, he doesn't utilize it that much here. It's not a major detriment to the album that he doesn't, but it's something that bothers me. Whether it bothers other Meshuggah fans or other metalheads is unknown.
Anyway, this is an excellent album and much more vile and twisted than many a death metal band/album, IMO. Whereas many death metal bands just use pure undiluted aggression, Meshuggah immerses you into a thick, humid jungle, the atmosphere often being incredibly heavy and suffocating, leaving you gasping for air as you struggle to breathe in each minute fiber of riffage and everchanging rhythms.
Meshuggah, for those who don't know, is a band that masterfully blends the speed and energy of thrash metal, the driving, mechanical riffs of industrial, and the blazing technicality of progressive metal, making for one of the most popular "real" metal bands of our time. "Destroy Erase Improve" is definitely the zenith of their innovative efforts.
Let's start with the good. The most instantly noticeable thing on this album is the odd meter. Very few of these songs use conventional time signatures, and almost all have polyrhythms. The band's insane drummer, Tomas Haake, somehow keeps all of the rhythms straight in his mind and pulls this extremely technical drumming job without a hitch. Haake is an incredibly impressive drummer: he displays a perfect balance of timekeeping, technicality, and power.
The guitarist, Fredrik Thordendal, is also quite talented. Of course, Thordendal is also able to play around the odd time signatures, and oftentimes, breaks in the fast and schizophrenic music will be followed by a strange, atmospheric, warbly guitar solo with an eerie and lucid tone. This is used to great effect, creating an unsettling dissonance within the music.
Now on to the music itself: as mentioned several times, the songs have seldom-used rhythms and precise timekeeping. The music is a blend of thrash, industrial, and progressive metal. This style is accompanied by harsh and loud vocals, and it's easy to imagine the singer (Jens Kidman) running toward you with a knife and screaming just as he does on this record. The verses and intros to most of the songs are loud, fast, and grinding, with calm but intentionally jarring breaks in between. The album, as said before, is rife with hypnotic solos that add greatly to the mood of the album.
Finally, I'll get the bad out of the way. There is only one thing really wrong with this album: after 25 or 30 minutes of angry industrial thrashing and shouting about robots taking over the world, all the songs seem to blend together and it's hard to discern which is which. It gets repetitive. That's pretty much all that's really bad about this album, but the great and totally original music definitely outweighs the repetitiveness. Chances are, you already know of Meshuggah and either have/don't want this album, but if you're undecided, I'd definitely recommend it.
Highlights include Future Breed Machine, which sounds like a subway crashed into a crowd of babies; Soul Burn, the best example of their polyrhythmic insanity, and Acrid Placidity, a testament to their atmospheric abilities.
Lowlights include pretty much the whole rest of the album. It's most definitely not bad, but isn't as discernibly excellent as the three tracks listed above.
To be completly upfront, this was the heaviest CD I had ever bought when I got it about 3 years ago. In the present, I have found other Meshuggah to be heavier, but this still gets quite a few listens in my player due to the overall quality of the songs that are present. Some of my favourite Meshuggah songs on are on here, including the ever-popular Future Breed Machine and the single Transfixion. The band sounds as tight as a virgin, with crushing riffs and surprisingly enjoyable solo breaks. The songs also evolve as they play, and go through different phases, a good example would be Future Breed Machine, which has the high guitar part as an intro, then into the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus progression, but then the song takes a 180 degree turn into a slower riff and a solo, then into a slower chugging guitar part. This is a perfect example of most of Meshuggah's music (with the possible exception of Nothing), it is unpredictable.
Many of the songs on here have a similar beat, I recently read an interview with Martin Haagstrom in which he states that "all Meshuggah is 4/4" which explains this. Despite this, the drum work is very well done, but is overshadowed on the album because of the guitars. However, putting the bass up on a CD player will show the true power of the drums on this album, and how much more it adds. There is one slow, instrumental piece called "Acrid Placidity", which is completly different from the rest of the album but is still very well done. Some of the songs have much slower, doomier beats such as Sublevels, which showcases a weird, riff. Soul Burn somewhat follows along these lines, but has faster portions. Transfixion shows the faster, thrashier parts of the album, with it's pounding beat and quick riffs. These few examples are basically what the album sounds like, and show why it can't really be classified into one catogory.
Jens Kidman, the singer, has an incredible voice. For screaming, that is. He doesn't really do much in the way of singing, but his screams sound as if he is plastering his lungs on the wall of the studio. Also, his spoken part in Sublevels in really cool too, reminds me of Phil Anselmo on much of the GSTK album. His screams suit the music very well.
If I had to compare Meshuggah to another band, I would say Strapping Young Lad, because they are technical, fast, brutal and unpredicatable. The only real fault of this album is that the songs can get boring after a while. Still a great album nonetheless. If nothing else, MAKE SURE to check out Future Breed Machine.
I don't understand why people like these guys, all this album is, is a bunch of dudes trying to act tuff and play heavy music as heavy as they can forgetting that good song writing is needed to make good music. I mean, don't get me wrong, if these guys were in a tuff guy contest, they would win, I mean there so tuff! Just listen to their music, they are so tuff they don't even need to learn how to play their instruments well, learn how to write songs, play melodies, riffs, solo's, drum fills, and bass lines! Oh and I almost forgot....they don't even need to learn how to sing they are so tuff, they can just scream into the microphone because they are tuff guys and no one is going to tell them they are horrible mucisians.
Serisoly though, this album is quite horrible, perhaps Meshuggah (what a stupid band name) has gotten better since this recording, as of now I haven't heard their new stuff. The first thing that is horrible on this album is perhaps the biggest problem, is the songwriting. Most every song starts out with this crappy noise, then some powercord guitar repeated over and over again, their is practically no structure to be found on this album. I heard maybe one or two solo's. The band sounds like they are all playing different songs at the same time, very in choherant and unstructured.
The guitars are just repeated power cords, no riffs, few solo's, and way to distorted, they sound like noise most of the time. Then other times Meshuggah attemps to be melodic, but that just sucks....they do do that better though.
The vocals sound like the singer is panicing, or being tortured and screaming nonsense, absolutly horrible. The vocals are by far the worst sounding part of this album, and thats saying alot since the guitars are quite horrible and its hard to imagine whats worse than them.
The drums are random as hell, no sctructure to them, and often sound like they have nothing to do with the rest of the music and songs. Is there a bass?????
This is defintaly the worst heavy/metalcore album I have ever heard. The only advice I can give to these guys is to destroy and erase this album, and Improve your sound. I pity all those who like this and own this album. I would give this album a zero, but there are one or two parts which it redeems itself for about 3 seconds, so I will give it some points.