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Long before Meshuggah was known for their robotic-sounding cyber metal, long before their breakthrough success, Destroy Erase Improve, long before gangsta-rapping over power chords was considered metal, this intrepid band was playing speed metal blantantly derivative of their forefathers, such bands as Metallica and Testament. Those days may be gone, but fortunately the metal world has been blessed with a three-song snapshot of their embryonic sound.
The question that comes to mind is, "why do we want to hear some inexperienced jabronies playing Metallica covers??".
The remarkable thing about Meshuggah's debut EP is that it is not fully derivative but includes glimpses of their future in the form of their odd time signatures and exotic lead scales. To those who like Meshuggah's ideas but do not think that a song should be dependent upon them, these three songs are a treat.
To be sure, this is 80s thrash/speed metal. Jens and Tomas sing in the half-shouted but still tuneful way that James Hetfield and Chuck Billy did in the 80s. The guitars chug along, churning out riffs more discernable than anything from their later years. Furthermore, this album was made before Meshuggah decided that hooks and choruses were untr00, ergo the listener will remember how the song goes an hour later.
Despite the trappings of thrash metal, Meshuggah demonstrates they have always been creative. There are a few sections here and there using odd time signatures, and the complex drum rhythms to match, and their use of dynamics and tempos is present, if underdeveloped. The opaque lyrics are another giveaway of whom we are dealing with.
While the first two songs are merely interesting, one being similar to their material on Contradictions Collapse (and actually re-recorded for it) and the other being unabashed Metallica worship, the third song, "Debt of Nature" is worth the price of admission alone. Free of the awkward feel of the first two tracks, it is a forgotten thrash classic with a huge chorus and even more immense riffs.
The downside to this EP is that because of its age, the production is quite dated and dulls the impact the music could have had (although, the production is still miles ahead of that on And Justice for All). Instead of re-releasing these tracks on their Rare Trax CD, they should have re-recorded them and really come up with something that would grab the metal world by the balls. Nonetheless, these songs have a place in metal history, if not as great headbangers, then as prototypes for a metal revolution.