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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.