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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.