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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)