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I could go on a long rant here about how people “just don’t understand” Meshuggah’s music and the skill that goes into what they create, but I will keep this short. I feel on this album, more than any other, the music speaks for itself.
There are more and more “djent” acts coming out of the woodwork, and with the surprising variety of sounds from these acts, it easy for new, fresh faces to change people’s perception of the bands that originated it. Unlike many of these other groups, Meshuggah is solely interested in the pure groove and percussive elements of their sound. Melody and complex guitar-work are secondary to the insane rhythms. The vocals are hypnotic and some would say “monotonous” as they are also part of beat.
Koloss is not going to be a big shocker for people familiar with Meshuggah. The abundance of low-end is there as always, along with the odd poly-rhythms, barked vocals, and freeform jazz solos. However, I feel this is the tightest, heaviest, and most focused they have ever been. The lows are even more crushing, the riffs (though still similar) offer more variety and memorability, and the brevity lends itself well to repeat listens.
While past albums have been pretty polarized for me regarding which songs are great and which are skippable, there aren’t any songs I would call “filler.” Even the long outro is worth listening to as it is the prettiest, most peaceful thing I have heard committed to such an intense album. There are two types of tracks: crushing, and BONE CRUSHING. For the latter, my favorites are Swarm, Do Not Look Down, Demiurge, and I Am Colossus. Note that I just named almost half of the album.
Even if you think you have heard it all before, give this album a few spins. I would be surprised if you don’t find yourself banging your head. The tone feels darker than ever before. Obzen found influences from Tool rubbing off on them from touring, and Catch Thirty-Three felt like they were becoming a little too avant-garde. This is more akin to Nothing, but without the experimentation and influences of the nu-metal culture that were happening around it. This is pure, primal Meshuggah.
Koloss has an otherworldly bleakness about it, like a deserted planet, with ragged mountain ranges that stretch as far as the eye can see, endless terrains of black brown rock and dust storms that turn the sun to a hovering, ghostly coin. Some people seem to view this feeling of bleakness as a 'boring' element that runs through the album, but I love that. I like the minimalism, the feeling of emptiness; it creates a sensation of space within and around the songs. Demiurge is a good example of this, with its eerie, ambient soundscapes (it grows into something quite sinister for me, cold and chilling towards the climax, which of course I adore) and the multi-layered, slow burning beauty of Behind The Sun. Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion sounds barren and dry until it floods into colour at 3:48 with those long, disquieting tunnels of guitar sound that seem to take us slowly, creeping into points of space. The Last Vigil takes this feeling of space into another dimension, an ethereal, haunting place full of forbidden geometry and strange, bleeding light.
Koloss is intricate, dense and heavy. I love the drumming patterns on Marrow and Swarm and the way the twin guitar riffs slide away from each other like magnets on Marrow. The way the guitar notes on The Demon's Name Is Surveillance build and bend into something high, wild and intense, penetrating and peering into your mind like snaking, living cameras, and how Do Not Look Down seems to flow into a completely different song at exactly the 3:00 minute mark. The way the guitar (it sounds like a weird sliding backwards chord with bending strings) seems to pull my stomach muscles down at 0:18 (there are two more during the song, deliciously heavy, they occur at 1:06 and 3:46) on I Am Colossus, it feels exquisite, like falling through a trapdoor. I love the ascending chromatic riff during the chorus and the lead solo towards the end is beautifully-placed, having a 'siren-esque' quality to it, a little like the melody (or rather the atmosphere) you hear during Corridor Of Chameleons (at 2:02 and 3:55) from Chaosphere. The Demon's Name Is Surveillance has this siren-esque quality as well towards the end section at 3:30. You can hear elements of Chaosphere and Obzen throughout the album and for that matter, elements of Nothing and Catch 33.
Koloss is an alien landscape. Beams of sunlight flicker in broken shafts on that black-brown surface. At certain angles, the light glints like gold upon those great stones. It is full of twists and turns like some leviathan puzzle box. What you find inside depends on how deeply you want to go into that box.
Koloss. Beautiful. Bleak. Barren. Alien.
Meshuggah's 2012 album Koloss. Well, what can I say? It's Meshuggah.
We might as well start off with the general theme. When we compare this to obZen, we instantly recognize the fact that Koloss, in terms of aggressiveness, is somewhat diminished. Koloss has its very heavy moments and its not so heavy moments. I think most listeners will agree that the heaviest song is either 'I Am Colossus' or 'Swarm' - it can definitely stack up to obZen songs such as 'Pravus' or 'Bleed'. However Koloss is significantly calmer and more controlled in its form, and is far more...mature (?) and serious in musical advancement than obZen.
The album's first song, 'I Am Colossus' is more of a masterpiece on lyrics than the musical backdrop. When one looks at said lyrics you understand the whole feel of Koloss as an album. It gives you the feeling that Koloss presents god-like imagery (see 'Demiurge') and I Am Colossus is possibly the most 'evil' sounding song on the album. Unlike other Meshuggah songs which are in design to throw off the listener, I Am Colossus is almost operatic in nature. A very cool opera if you're asking me.
Other songs I can name which stand out in this album is 'The Demon's Name is Surveillance' and 'Demiurge'. 'The Demon's Name is Surveillance' is one of few prime examples of Haake's stamina in drumming. 'Bleed' from obZen is the other example - both songs are physically demanding and Haake's drumming drives this particular song in a palpitating rhythm.
The other song I mentioned, 'Demiurge' is simple, but very, VERY effective in its form. Out of all Meshuggah songs, 'Demiurge' is probably the easiest song to grasp. As a result it is innately heavy to anyone who listens to it and with a very memorable rhythm. One of Meshuggah's best songs on the album and incidentally one of their best overall but for completely different reasons.
My main criticism of this entire album is 'The Last Vigil'. Whilst having a great quality of its own, it has little place in the thunderous nature of Koloss. It is quite easily the most mellow of Meshuggah songs, and as far as I know, Meshuggah isn't known for its light-base songs. Very nice and hypnotic don't get me wrong, but it feels almost placeholder-ish.
In total, Koloss is a 'colossal' album. Certain songs cleave straight through the extreme-metal/avant-garde genre, and is memorable to say the least. Very heavy, but not as heavy as obZen. Perhaps for the better?
During the nineties, Meshuggah pioneered a new style of metal known as “djent,” which relies on distorted, syncopated guitar tones, polyrhythms, and a level of music complexity that is beyond what many bands at the time were employing. In the past five years, djent has become enormously popular as a multitude of bands have emerged from the scene: Periphery, Animals As Leaders, Textures, Tesseract, Cloudkicker, and Vildhjarta are all acclaimed groups whose music falls into this category.
As djent grew in popularity, speculation arose as to whether Meshuggah, the innovators of the style, would be able to write music with relevance. When it was announced that the band had a new album in the works, the reaction was generally subdued; many felt that a new Meshuggah album would be derivative and uninspired. On March 23rd, Koloss was released and despite low expectations, the album has proven to be Meshuggah’s best in years.
Koloss does well to showcase the band’s technical mastery as the song “Do Not Look Down” demonstrates. Guitarist Mårten Hagström helped write many of the heavier songs included such as “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” and the penultimate “Demiurge”. Meshuggah’s slower side is also revealed in opening track “I Am Colossus” and instrumental “The Last Vigil”.
The album presents itself as a varied, progressive record that is less a reaction to current metal trends and more a step back towards their earlier albums Contradictions Collapse and Destroy Erase Improve. It’s done more than just that. In its first week, the album sold over 18,000 copies, landing it at spot number 17 on the Billboard 200 music chart, the band’s best first week debut ever. Koloss shows that after twenty-five years, Meshuggah is still a significant force in metal.
(Originally written for Generation Next in the Santa Fe New Mexican)
I have never anticipated buying an album more than when it came to this one. For all the hype behind Koloss, for how much of a huge Meshuggah fan I am, for the four year wait between this and ObZen, what an overall depressing feeling it was listening to this for the first time. I thought my first impression would be something like my brain rapidly becoming clouded because of hearing such destructive and decimating track after track, but instead I was just shit on...on my face. The disc itself even looks like a zoomed-out rip-off of the Catch Thirtythree disc which, by the way, if you haven't heard that album, go get it instead of this one.
If you were expecting anything like ObZen, don't look here. Koloss sounds like Meshuggah went back a step or five or six. There is a feel to this album where you can't tell the songs apart, which makes it extremely hard to pick out parts you enjoy or dislike about the album. There is way too much repetition throughout the album, all the songs have the same feel to them, they all drag on and most have this sort of "bad live recording" distortion sound to them. For the most part all the instruments merge together to form a solid black wall of hard-hitting noise.
Koloss has such massive lack of excitement that just killed it for me. Most of the songs are slow and will make you either yawn or angrily press skip. There is no fast-paced vocals and for being Meshuggah, the gods among men of technicality, there is a monstrous absence of it. There are one or two songs worth mentioning, but I won't, so go find them out on your own because I will never remember the names of them and maybe you'll get some enjoyment out of it. There is a song called Swarm that people rave about, but it is no greater than anything else on the album. I guess the best part of the album is if you do enjoy Jens' vocals on other Meshuggah releases, he does sound exactly the same on this album.
So basically the whole time listening to this, if you're anything like me, you'll be going "what the fuck went wrong here?” There are weird "solos"(?) that sound like broken keyboards stuck on repeat. While still a heavy album, there is either absolutely way too much going on or nowhere near enough. It's a shame when the album itself looks better than the music stored inside. To a new and better future for Meshuggah, here's hoping.
When I first heard "Rational Gaze", I thought Meshuggah were doing something really cool. They repeated an odd-timed riff over a 4/4 beat, repeating it so it lined up differently with each repetition, looping it until it they eventually met up again. There was basically no melody, just choosing a dissonant interval and going between those two notes. The vocalist is primarily percussive, shouting in a monotone, often adding another rhythm to the already chaotic mix. The guitars were tuned very low, and the drummer hits the kick drum in sync with the guitars chugging. It is really cool when you first hear it. Fascinating when you listen to it and write it out to figure out what they're doing (25/16 over 4/4 five times, plus an extra 3/16 tacked onto the last cycle, in that example).
This heavy, thick, and percussive sound is Meshuggah's signature style, something that became apparent when they did the same thing for close to an hour and called it an album. That was ten years ago, and they did more or less the same thing in different colors for the rest of the decade. There are certainly ways to differentiate modern Meshuggah material from song-to-song, but they're a one-trick-pony with a really complicated trick. They tried to push the boundaries with a drum-machine album. They took a hammering, percussive riff in Bleed and beat it to death by repeating it for what seemed like an eternity.
Imagine if Iced Earth made an album that consisted entirely of triplet-chugs and falsetto screams. While they certainly have a style and formula, and their gallops are often joked about, the gallops are basically every other riff, not the vast majority of the album, and they're spaced out and share the spotlight with a lead vocalist.
Meshuggah have refined an incredibly monotonous formula for this album. They have expanded their riffing from a single dissonant interval to often using three notes per riff. They rely on their polyrhythmic cycles heavily, with almost every moment of the album being part of one. This concept could be implemented in an interesting manner - it could be really cool if Ron Jarzombek blended it with his ever-changing 12-tone rows and varying phrasings. Meshuggah are far from this.
I'm sure you have heard a deathcore fan tell you that it's fucking brutal, it's so much more than chugging, it's so fucking heavy, they've got killer riffs, not just drop A power chords. Thick production and mechanical-sounding digital production can make every percussive beat sound as punishing as if you looped the first three beats of "Hammer Smashed Face" for an eternity. Complaining about this seems to be a popular pastime among metalheads these days. Don't you fuckin' hate chugga-chugga riffs, man?
Meshuggah are a boring chugga-chugga band who stretch out their chugga-chugga riffs more than the average chugga-chugga band to fit them into their polyrhythmic cycles. Each odd-timed riff is usually longer than a normal riff, since it's in twenty-something over sixteen time and it needs to be played five or six or seven times. To make this worse, they often go to a brief break, then go back to the same shit for another eternity or two (more likely, two and eleven sixteenths eternities).
The band isn't entirely chugga-chugga riffs this time, since they slowed down the chugging, they've thrown in some "atmospheric" chords, such as on "Behind the Sun", where they sound like Soulfly trying to rip off Converge's "They Stretch For Miles". This is a point where, since I'm reviewing Meshuggah, I'm not afraid to be disjointed and break from forming any sort of rhythm in writing.
The atmospheric stylings on this album are very poorly implemented. The aforementioned riff is a poor attempt at doing something that Converge or Mastodon might be better known for. While I maintain that the majority of the hate for those bands comes from the legions of terrible rip-offs that they spawned, Meshuggah may have spawned the most loathed rip-off subgenre. Despite djent being the most bitched-about thing since Killswitch Engage, Meshuggah seem to get nothing but praise for doing more-or-less the same thing as a movement named for the sound that a bunch of wankers get by plugging their guitars with too many strings into their computers and chugging through an amp simulator to achieve a dry, synthetic tone. They seem to get a pass from the many opponents of this style and movement, with this album earning endless praise despite playing into the tired stereotypes of this relatively new style. They're just as boring as Periphery, or Animals As Leaders, who have a charismatic bandleader who is known for committing the greatest crimes against fashion in metalcore since Eighteen Visions. If you haven't heard by now, Tosin Abasi gave an interview about his clothing in which he mentions that he is wearing women's pants, "fashioncore" was a term that was used when people discovered bands on MySpace, and an American man still wears a fedora after President Kennedy marked the passing of the style by sporting nothing atop a full head of hair.
I would normally avoid digressing into such a lengthy ramble, but if you're listening to Meshuggah, they're probably still wanking in multiple time signatures to the same chugga-chugga riff because its polyrhythmic cycle hasn't wrapped back around yet. They're allowed to do it, because they were the first band to do the same goddamn thing for a whole album, a whole decade, right?
The prominence of detuned, groove-heavy riffs has not been without merit. One can still chug on a low-tuned guitar without being painfully boring like Meshuggah, who have found a new way of doing it. The Acacia Strain had serious motherfucking swagger until they hopped on the eight-string trend and their Meshuggah-loving guitarist relegated himself to the studio, and then band became boring. Veil of Maya sampled and mocked a YouTube commentator's verbal impression of a breakdown and tastefully finished a song with a serious groove modeled after that man's impression. Bolt Thrower have notably made use of the same riff several times over two decades to nearly universal acclaim.
Why is it then, that Meshuggah's music falls flatter than the fretboards of their eight-string guitars? They're a one-trick pony, with little in their arsenal other than drop-tuned, eight-stringed guitars where they only occasionally explore most of the instrument, presumably to make sure that it hasn't crept into the shadows to avoid being seen in the poisonous limelight with them. Dissonance and chugging alone get boring long before you push the hour-mark of an album. Polyrhythmic cycles can't disguise that you're a chugga-chugga band with more chops and less swagger than recent Emmure, but roughly the same hammering dynamics as the last Fear Factory album. The vocals are painfully monotonous - the only aspects where there is even the slightest amount of room for variance are the lyrics and the rhythm. Another percussive element, another metal band with metal band lyrics. Dime-a-dozen, though they would prefer to play in loose change over sixteen time.
Yet another place where Meshuggah fall short of pretty much every band in the world is the lack of any sort of hook in the music. This isn't memorable, and their complex format needs some creativity rather then primitivity within their chosen polyrhythmic format. This isn't caveman chugga-chugga metal, this is thinking man's chugga-chugga metal! I congratulate you if you think this is the latter and made it past the numerical score of this review, but quite frankly, anyone who uses the term "thinking man's metal" deserves to have an eight-string guitar broken over their head. There's no lack of comprehension here as to how these technical chops work, it's the lack of everything else that makes good music that the whole civilized world bitches about being absent when a deathcore band plays two indistinguishable one-chord breakdowns in the time it takes Meshuggah to finish wanking in multiple time signatures at once.
The final nail in the coffin of this album's torturous sound is that every time they step away from their signature chugging formula, they only pull off something extremely mediocre, only sounding a bit more appealing because by the time they play it - I'm so sick of their chugga-chugga crap that I'm craving anything else. Soon enough it'll be back to the same old chugga-chugga. This album is extremely unpleasant to listen to.
So let it be written, so let it be done.
Fuck these eight-stringers and then some.
I’ve mentioned Meshuggah many, many times on my blog. It’s really no secret they are one of my favorite bands, and have done more to shape my musical taste than nearly anyone else. In reading a review of a band as iconic as Meshuggah, you should always be aware of how the reviewer stands, and I must put it out there that this may not be entirely un-biased I pretty much think they can do no wrong.
Koloss is the Swedish experimentalists’ eighth full-length album. Many commenters have noted that they sound more organic this time around, and then struggle to explain exactly what they mean. This is clearly still a Meshuggah album, after all, so it still doesn’t feel natural to our human sensibilities. Think of it this way: Where prior Meshuggah albums are the audio representation of a complex industrial machine on the verge of flying into pieces, Koloss is more like footage of all the activity in a massive ant colony played at double-speed. Organic, yes, but alien.
That is really the only necessary observation about the record. It’s Meshuggah, but the instruments sound more real, and they sound more like a band—much as they do in their live material. The songs are in their unmistakable polyrhythmic style, but are somewhat simpler if no less bizarre.
It is a welcome step. In the time since 2008’s ObZen, an entire genre has sprung up around the mechanical complexity of the band’s sound, and constant comparisons of djent bands to Meshuggah have sullied the legends’ name. Some have even called Meshuggah a djent band, although they are no more djent than Psycho is a slasher film.
And did I mention the songs are excellent? The only thing it's missing is a real skullsmasher of a track. There's no "Bleed," "Future Breed Machine," or "Rational Gaze" here.
The Verdict: Koloss helps Meshuggah to define themselves, and to distance themselves from the misguided web forum swarms who seek to claim them.
I’m terribly late on this Koloss review, but this is more spur-of-the-moment than anything. I got into Meshuggah in late 2009 after hearing a few of their singles, notably Future Breed Machine, New Millennium Cyanide Christ and Bleed, the single from their 2008 release, obZen. After hearing Bleed, I went out and picked up obZen as soon as I had the money. At the time, it was the best fifteen bucks I’d ever spent. As soon as I’d learned Meshuggah would be releasing a follow-up to obZen, I began to drool (figuratively, of course) with anticipation. I could only wonder what the new album would sound like. Would it sound like a fast, ear-blasting death ride like obZen, or would it be a skull-crushing return to basics, with a sound more akin to Nothing? I also wondered how Meshuggah would respond to the recent cropping-up of so many copycat djent bands. Would they try to compete, or would they turn the world on its ear with something original?
Koloss is best described as a combination of several of their previous records. It’s got the slow heaviness of Nothing, but it also sounds fast and at times thrashy, like obZen and some of their earlier albums such as Destroy Erase Improve and Chaosphere. Koloss is not simply a mishmash of styles, however; on this album, Meshuggah seem to have created a more stripped-down, streamlined version of their sound, where it seems that they concentrated more on creating solid riffs than being as fast and heavy as possible just for the hell of it. I am Colossus, Do Not Look Down, Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion and Demiurge are the songs that best exhibit this stripped-down sound; their song structure sounds deceptively simple, and they’re pretty damn heavy. Upon repeated listens, however, one can begin to hear the complexity hidden within these songs. The riffs within these songs have the ability to twist and bend into different iterations without ever losing the initial feel. On the other hand, The Hurt That Finds You First, Marrow and Swarm are examples of the fast, thrashy feel of previous albums. There are some letdowns when it comes to this record. The Demon’s Name is Surveillance seems to be a rehash of Bleed. The riff is similar and the drumming, while not as intense or complex, still has shades of that song within. Honestly, it feels as if Fredrik Thordendal (the songwriter for this song) was either phoning it in or had a song from the last album that he wanted to use. Also, album-closer The Last Vigil is little more than some nice ambient music consisting of one slow arpeggiated riff with lots of reverb stacked on top. It’s a nice way to relax, but rather boring otherwise. That said, Meshuggah have outdone themselves once again. They have proven that they can still completely reset the curve and come out on top. They’ve taken their style in a very logical next direction, and instead of trying to compete with the copycats, they’ve done their own thing.
As for the band itself, they’ve never sounded better. Oftentimes, metal bands age like milk; Meshuggah don’t seem to have aged a day in nearly twenty-six years. The production is crisp and the sound of the band comes right through. Some may be put off by how clear the sound is; this album is definitely not low-fi, but for a band that have been oftentimes described with words like “robotic” or “mechanical,” it seems to be a good fit.
The band members’ playing is also sharp. Jens’ vocals still sound excellent, and while a little raspier than he was when he was younger he’s still got vocal power; he’s a commanding presence within the music. Fredrik and Marten both sound fantastic, as well. Not only do they play with energy, their guitar tone feels even heavier than it was in previous albums, sounding more like it did on Nothing. Tomas is still pounding away at the drums, providing the rhythmic anchor and helping to keep the polyrhythms smooth and the overall sound tight. His drumming is mixed well, without being too loud or too soft. The only real problem is Dick Lovgren’s bass, which is often relegated to a distant rumble. Of course, a bassist is often there just to provide the rock bottom of the sonic imprint, so it’s to be expected.
Koloss has quickly become my favorite Meshuggah record, even usurping the likes of Chaosphere and Nothing. It sounds just as good the fiftieth time as it does the first. These guys aren’t just playing well, they’re writing well and still coming up with fresh ideas. At first, four years seemed like an eternity, but it was well worth the wait.
Meshuggah is a band that for the better part of 20ish years since their recording debut has pretty much stuck to their story. Some missteps here or there (*cough "Nothing,"...the programmed drums on "Catch 33") haven't been enough to derail them, and they've developed their sound over the years from semi-tech thrash, to riff-based odd-time battery, to their current state as an unrelenting proto-djent aural assault. They seem to be less focused on the odd-time riffs they were known for, and now are far more known for just being in-your-face and for being the supposed forefathers of the latest mainstream heavy music abortion known as "Djent," (yes, this reviewer has a definite opinion on that genre).
Beginning slightly with "Catch 33," escalating heavily with previous masterpiece "Obzen," and now with new release "Koloss," Meshuggah has slowly been leaving the realm of the seemingly odd-time riffage behind. To their own credit, guitarist Fredrick Thordendal has even stated on numerous occasions something to the effect of "the band doesn't play in odd time meters, we just play AROUND the beat of the 4/4 time signature." Thing is, is that the riffage has been getting closer and closer to true 4/4 playing dead on the beat, lengthy though the beats may be. Tunes like "The Demon's Name is Surveillance" display a style reminiscent of "Obzen's" most recognized single "Bleed." The main motif of the tune is extremely intense with heavy palm-muting and doesn't let up even for a split-second. The song "Behind the Sun" brings back a style staple of the band that a lot of times helps to break up any sort of monotonousness that can present itself in a Meshuggah release, that being the rarely-used clean arpeggio...something that the band honestly does so well, yet very sparingly uses, and I believe it is just for this purpose. Tomas Haake is on his damn game on this CD too...absolutely destroying the skins and holding down a hell of a groove, throwing down through this entire damn disc. Same goes for Dick Lovgren and guitarist Marten Hagstrom, and even guitarist Thordenthal is killing it, but I still yearn for far more of the amazing, Holdsworth-esque legato soloing that he used to throw down with reckless adandon. This release doesn't showcase his fleet-fingeredness as much as any Meshuggah release really should. It pretty much is just go-for-the-throat riffing all the way through as far as the guitar work goes. As for vocalist Jens Kidman...wow...all the years of screaming I think is finally starting to shred his vocal cords...I mean, you can HEAR it...REALLY hear it. He has a unique raspiness now that I have never heard before. Truthfully, it makes his voice stand apart from all the others that flat-out attempt to imitate him, and I for one think that's cool.
In all honesty...if you like Meshuggah, you're in for more of the same here. This is a destructive aural force of a band that never gives quarter or mercy, and you know that already. If you've never liked the band, this disc probably won't change your opinion. As I said, it is more of the same that they've been doing, but maybe just a continuation of the slight regression they've undertaken in recent years. It's not a CD...it's five Swedes taking a brick to your face for close to 55 minutes. Just how we like it.
After the immense success that followed Meshuggah upon releasing what is considered to be one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time (ObZen), one question remained: How can they top that? By writing insane and technical riffs BEFORE(!) they even knew how to play them that set the bar to skyscraper proportions for the band’s new album Koloss.
The first single “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” was either loved or hated by listeners. It is a much slower and spaced out track, being almost seven minutes long. But that doesn’t mean that they got any less technical. This track shows a brand new side of Meshuggah, where they use the seemingly random time signatures in a whole new way that, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t really been heard of before. Releasing this track as the first single was bound to put fans on both sides of the fence. It’s not really anything that they’ve delved into much in the past, as they were busy pushing the very boundaries of how progressive math metal should be made while utilizing speed and technical time signatures together.
Luckily, “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” goes back to the insane speed that made ObZen such a hit. If you look up brutal in the dictionary, you will find one of the descriptions being this song. The amount of skill it takes to keep such a progressive and extreme speed for the entire track is mind-boggling to say the least. The way the guitars and drums work in tandem about 2:10 into the song, the way the bass and drums tear your face off, and the solo at the end make this is one of their greatest tracks ever.
Going back to their Chaosphere days, “The Hurt That Finds You First” is a more in-your-face approach that is more fitting of an older era. It’s got a slight thrash influence, mainly in the tuning of the guitars, and the overall composition in how the solos and bridge sections of the song complement each other. The drums also ooze pure thrash, sounding different than the rest of the album with the way the snare is used. But it still goes to a progressive sound at some parts in the song, most evidently around the 2:30 part. Near the end, the progressive and thrash elements meet in perfect harmony in a way only Meshuggah can pull off.
There are many unique elements hidden within every song on Koloss, but that is to be expected of a band that has written such a pioneering and unique page in metal history like Meshuggah. While I won’t venture to say it’s better than ObZen- that’s only a matter of personal opinion. I can see others proclaiming how the uniqueness of Koloss is better than ObZen in many ways. However, it’s not too much to say that it’s in the running for metal album of the year this early into 2012.
How can you not love such an amazing album? They ask. This is Meshuggah's best work yet. I elaborate as to why I think differently; never in my life have I anticipated an album as much as I have for Koloss. So I got the album and naturally listened to it, expecting to have my jaw dropped down to the ground instead I was left unsatisfied and rather disappointed. I have only been listening to Meshuggah for a few months having come across the single "Bleed" whilst searching for another band, taken aback by Meshuggah, I had to do some heavy research and possibly listen to more of their songs. My denouement, ObZen is truly more of a powerful album than Koloss, ObZen, which was rather heavy and possibly Meshuggah's best album in my opinion.
Koloss has ten tracks, only liking three... Them being; I am Colossus, The Demons Name Is Surveillance and Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion. Meshuggah is a rather complex band and possibly not everyone's favourite cup of tea. But really, what the hell happened here? I was expecting more or less the same brutality I heard in ObZen, Chaosphere and Nothing. To me it seems as though the songs were quickly done and merged in a way that the band made sure that they will be entirely different from their previous albums but that's alright and that is not the problem at all. I have never had a problem with bands changing their sound and nor am I saying that Meshuggah have changed their sound but the saying "job well done" cannot be said for this album. It is as though they couldn't wait to evade from the studio and go out and play live gigs and have yet another album done next to their name. Koloss lacks something, more energy perhaps? Again, sheer brutality? It is always a good thing to listen to an album and be hooked from the beginning until the end and not be left dissatisfied. Meshuggah is a great band with amazing talented artists who I feel could have disembogued their heart and souls out on this album, I suppose that is the one thing that frustrates me about this record, it has killer songs but you get the inevitable feeling of boredom halfway through them. Behind The Sun, Marrow and Do Not Look Down can be placed under that category.
This album is not the "right" album to give to a beginner who has never listened to these Swedish guys and would love to try them out because I am almost certain they will rebuke it immensely. I can only hope they will not disappoint with their future albums or I might as well disown themnow.
Originally written for Sputnikmusic
Every few years evolution in metal leaps forward, surpassing conventions, some remaining true to their roots while some others drifting off into uncharted territory. Amidst this, some bands maintain their supremacy and produce album after ass-kicking album to establish their dominance and strengthen their foothold on their status. Meshuggah are one such band who do the latter, fueled by originality and innovation, they uphold their brand of metal like no one else, continually scaling new altitudes.
Koloss is their sequel to their 2008 venture obZen, an album that is as captivating as it is mesmerizing. Truly at the forefront of innovation, though some seasoned Meshuggah fans claim it takes a while to assimilate, I maintain it struck with it’s first blow and did what Meshuggah do best – obliterate. The absolutely heavy 8 string notes resonate with pulsating arrhythmia. The album, which focuses more on being heavy rather than fast and aggressive does nothing short of giving the listener the feeling that a thousand tonnes of bricks is being lowered upon his skull. A vicious journey from I am Colossus to The Last Vigil, demented and groove laden. Majestic in every breath, accentuated by Jens Kidman’s ferocious and authoritative growls. The best parts of the album being the slower tracks, the faster ones seem lost in profundity as one can see on The Demon’s Name is Surveillance. Despite a few glitches Meshuggah maintain their lyrical prowess (the one thing that got me into them a good four years ago). The Hurt That Finds You First is a fine portrait of their linguistic supremacy. Thordendal’s trademark guitar-only parts impart more life and purpose to this work of art. Marrow is clearly the predatorial song on the album, unforeseen in its eccentricity. This coupled with the next track Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion just about sums their signatorial metric insanity. The song gives out glimpses of their sound from the Nothing days. While Demiurge is in possession of a different sound all by itself, perceptible in a completely different way, what one journalist described aptly as ‘auditory physics’. The Last Vigil is an acoustic meltdown, bringing the album to a shuddering stop.
Meshuggah aren’t a band that have instant appeal, they maintain their affinity towards off times and poly rhythms. They shake the foundations of convention with unmatched intelligence and they do so as if it comes naturally to them. Breaking free from norms and delivering masterpieces one after another, they take metal to heights it has never scaled before. A band that cannot be perceived unidimensionally. Koloss is an album that does every bit of justice to the adjectives used to describe it, a different flavor of lethality for the ones who like it, a savagery unparalleled, an insanity that’s truly Alive.
For their most recent full-length album, Meshuggah have created a truly destructive behemoth. The only track on here that gives any room for the listener to breathe is Track 10, but it is a welcome breath as the first 9 Tracks will rip your face off.
Musicianship: Just like albums prior to this one, Meshuggah still hold their unique sound. Down-tuned guitars, odd time signatures, unique polyrhythms, and technical drumming all help comprise the innovative sound that is Meshuggah. This album is filled with slow chugging riffs (Tracks 4 and 7 for example) as well as faster paced riffs (Track 2 for example). Many people complain about how Meshuggah songs all sound very similar, but that is not a downside in this group. Each track on here, except for Track 10, is ridiculously heavy and precisely played. The album carries itself well due to the fact that it is not only heavy, but it also manages to have groove to it. Meshuggah are a very special group in this regard as they do not sacrifice the addictive qualities of their music while still retaining all of their ferocity. Guitar solos are few and far between on this album. However, the music itself carries enough weight on its own to the point that guitar solos aren't particularly necessary. The guitar solos that do show up on this album are definitely a nice touch and add some flavor to the album. The only reason that I didn't give this album a 100% is due to the final track on this album. It's an ambient track which makes for a nice outro, but it is so repetitive that it becomes boring before you listen through it once.
Vocals: Jens Kidman's vocals pierce through the onslaught of guitar and drums very well. He has a voice which is very unique in the metal community and I have yet to find somebody who sounds anything like him. His vocals mix with the music being played perfectly and give the music even more fury. The vocals do not overpower the instruments and vice versa. The both perfectly complement one another.
Lyrics: Contrary to the popular belief that metal contains nothing but mindless talk of killing people and worshipping the devil, Meshuggah write more intelligent content. The Track named "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion" is actually a line taken from Albert Schweitzer who was a famous philosopher from 1952. I usually don't pay too much attention to lyrical content in metal bands and instead focus on the instruments and overall sound of the group, but Meshuggah's lyrics catch the listener's attention. Jens Kidman also does an exceptional job of being a destructive vocalist while allowing the listener to make out the lyrics easily.
I think that this album is one of the best, if not the best album by Meshuggah. Fans of the band will be very pleased with this offering and if you have yet to check out this album, I strongly encourage you to do so. Meshuggah will forever hold a special place as one of the greatest metal groups to walk the earth.
Best Tracks: The first 9 tracks on this album are all fantastic, but my personal favorite would have to be "Behind the Sun".
Now, I've been anticipating Koloss like the fucken second coming of Christ. Never have I been so pumped about an album as with this one. Were my hopes too high? Hell no, they weren't even close . Fuck me sideways, upside down, backwards, pretty much any fucken way you want. God help us all. This is what will make the world end in 2012.
The band themselves said that this album would be a bit more "straight forward" than, say, ObZen. A bit more back to their roots, if you will. Something I'm sure is welcomed by many a fans. Because this is what Meshuggah are the undisputed kings of. Yes, they sure as hell know how to absolutely fuck things up beyond mere human comprehension, but I don't think that's what they are truly about and most certainly not what they do best.
I'm gonna sidetrack a little here, but hear me the fuck out, will you? No? Well, fuck you.
obZen felt to me like an experiment from the band. And people who got into the band through that album might have got the wrong impression of what they truly are about. (I'm mainly looking at you, "djent"-people). Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love obZen as I love every other album they've done. But it's not about how fast or technical you can go with Meshuggah, it's how heavy, or with this album, colossal you can get. They are, in the end, about creating mindbending sonic experiences. Cosmic greatness. And since obZen, unfortunately, spawned this absolute fucken pile of manure people call "djent", I couldn't be more happy with their direction on Koloss. Thank you, Meshuggah. You have just absolutely ass-raped the "djent"-scene silly. I love you even more than I did before.
I just felt like I had to clarify that. Hatemails from djentsters are expected and by all means more than welcome. I could use some free entertainment. Ha! You've got nothing on me.
Now let's get back to Koloss, shall we? Right.
With their two released tracks, "Do Not Look Down" and "Break Those Long Song Titles", I had mixed feelings about what to expect. "Break....." is one hell of a monster track, alright. Relentless, goddamn straight to the point bulldozer heaviness, right there. Not much to discuss, really. "Do Not Look Down" is, on the other hand, ridiculously groovy and it pretty much makes me want to dance the fuck out to it. Well, not really dance, that would just look plain retarded. You wouldn't want to see me dance, trust me. There are enough awful things in this world as it is. I don't even know where I'm going with this myself.
Anyhoo, I was not really sure what to expect, but I thought it'd be wise to wait until I've heard the entire album before my verdict, naturally. Well, duh.
Well, those tracks definitely shows two sides of the coin, alright. but they certainly do not show what the entire album actually has to offer. This is like all of their previous albums had sex with each other, and Koloss is the sick, demented and dark offspring that came out.
This is heavy as fuck, it's groovy and it's fucken evil. In other words, they focus on all the things that they can execute like no other band out there. It's safe to say that they are back, and they're fucken pissed off. This blows obZen right the fuck out of the water.
What I like the most is the production. It all sounds like actual instruments again. Everyone shines through so well on this album. Rather than having a compressed-to-clusterfuckness sound like on obZen they went for a more organic and alive sound. Best point of reference would be the Nothing album, but warmer. You can actually hear how an amazing drummer Tomas really is again. Also, Fredrik and Mårten has to be two of the tightest goddamn rhythm guitarists out there.
The bass is there sometimes, sometimes it just blends in completely with the guitars, but this is because when they play the low 8-string stuff, Dick plays in the same octave as the guitars, thus giving them that characteristic guitar sound. As far as I'm concerned, he is a damn fine and way too underrated bassist. He even gets some spotlight in "Break..." with a kind of a drum and bass interlude, something you haven't really heard since DEI, more or less.
But what probably struck me the most is Jens. His vocals sound so much more inspired and pissed off than on obZen. Something or someone must have pissed him off before entering the studio. He is definitely back in the shape he should be. Which is something you can't say that often about vocalists, so this is a huge plus. Few people can compete with his badassness and he definitely puts the icing on the cake, the cum on the face, and the grädde on the mos on this album. His live facial expressions alone should be enough to have people fucken throw all kinds of awards at them.
The musicianship is just out of this world. But this needs no further ellaboration, I'm pretty sure most people are familiar with their skills at this point. Just listen to the damn albums if you don't know what I'm fucken talking about.
Another point worth mentioning is the lyrics. Tomas writes pretty much all of them, and he is a natural talent at it, too. They make you think, they are interesting, and they all have meaning to them. They give the songs further dimensions and fits them like a glove while at it. Do yourself a favor and put on some good headphones and listen to this while reading along in the booklet. Fantastic.
At first I decided that to write about each track was a good idea, but it just proved to be pointless and it turned out a little too long to keep the read interesting. I'm pretty sure that you don't have the same feelings about the tracks as I do, anyway... So fuck that shit.
Koloss is heavy, it's atmospheric, it's groovy, it's evil, it's apocalyptic, and it's pretty much everything that I absolutely have come to love about this band over the years. It is a mix of what they've done in the past and it is a perfect representation of what they are. It's the soundtrack to the entire galaxy being crushed into a black hole. And the final track of the album, an instrumental clean guitar interlude (which is also something they are fucken excellent at, Catch 33 would be a perfect example of this), is the emptiness and dead silence of space that is all that remains afterwards. This, folks, this is what Meshuggah are all about and are the unmatched masters of doing.
Considering all of this and the overall good flow that this album has, I cannot give this anything less than a full score. Call me a fucken fanboy if you want to. I totally am, so I'm all fine with it. Like, I don't even care. Koloss certainly lives up to its name.
10 out of 10 Colossuses.
So here we have Meshuggah's seventh album, Koloss. After how outstanding obZen was, you'd be forgiven for expecting Meshuggah to even match it, let alone surpass it. However, I believe they have surpassed it with this. While thousands of bands either embracing or wanting to disassociate with the djent label are ripping them off, Meshuggah are showing that they are the masters of the style and why the legions of mediocre clones should just give up.
Starting with the slow paced groove filled track "I Am Colossus" which is a strong opener, before going into the considerably faster paced "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance", the band have made an album equal parts slower chugfests and faster. The equal mix means you won't feel like you're hearing the song being played over and over. Jens Kidman's robotic bark is still an integral part of Meshuggah's sound, while the memorable jazzy solo work adds a touch of excellence to the whole thing. Tomas Haake is yet again showing why he's one of the best drummers in metal today. His performance in tracks like "The Hurt That Finds You First" and "Demiurge" are really spectacular. Those ambient passages you heard on Nothing and obZen are still here, the outro to "The Hurt That Finds You First", the intro and outro to "Demiurge" and the entirety of closer "The Last Vigil" being prime examples.
Meshuggah have really outdone themselves here. This is a truly excellent piece of work, and will probably be the album of 2012. Fans of the band will likely love this as much as I do. The detractors will likely not enjoy this much, as it's not anything particularly new, but in the end that's not a bad thing.
Highlights: Demiurge, The Hurt That Finds You First, Do Not Look Down, The Demon's Name Is Surveillance, I Am Colossus
Meshuggah. That band that mesmerized everybody with their musicianship. Their polyrhythmic structures, brilliant drumming, diabolical low end guitars and guttural vocals, they spawned an entire race of fans and musicians, most of whom have started ripping them off and started the whole djent movement. But when there are millions of good, mediocre and bad copies floating around, how do you identify the original?
This is where the cerebral side of Meshuggah comes in. What people have duplicated is the sound and song structure. What they have not, is the attitude, intelligence and ideas that Meshuggah put into their songs. They know when they have to play slow and chug and when they have to pace up and poly rhythmisize the space time continuum. And that cerebral side is what shines through on Koloss.
From the supercharged "The Hurt Finds you First" and "The Demon's Name is Surveillance" to the slow chugging on "Do Not Look Down" and "Marrow" to the doom filled ambient notes of "The Last Vigil", Meshuggah do not let the current movements in metal influence them. While the instruments are already known for their prowess, Jens Kidmans' vocals definitely do shine through and stand out.
My favourite tracks on the album still are the ones that were leaked intentionally by the band, "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion" and "Do Not Look Down", especially the latter with its slow groove and jazzy guitar solo.
So those who are worried that Meshuggah will sound dated and obsolete, can rest easy. This is the most accessible Meshuggah album yet, at the same time being a logical evolution to their speed and riff crazed Obzen. The excellence and the essence that made Meshuggah the favourite metal band of the metal world, still remains. Buy it. For sure.