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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.