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And this is how the album starts. "Stengah," which has one of the heaviest intro riffs in the history of music, will kick you straight in the crotch as you press the play button and enter the world of djent riffs and plain heaviness. The 17 seconds before the drums kick in show the final transformation of Meshuggah- from their early Metallica worshiping days, to the Pantera on coke approach to thrash, and finally to this. And what is this?
One thing is sure about this album, and it's that its genre is unclassifiable. Wikipedia lists it as "avantgrade/progressive/extreme metal," while the common terms for the sound of this album are "djent," and even "nu metal" (which is a great genre by its own, but isn't even comparable to this and doesn't sound like it AT ALL). Neither fit for Nothing- only because this album is a one hit sensation which left as soon as it hit the planet. Songs like "Spasm," "Nebulous," and "Organic Shadows" show that this album is one of the landmarks of heavy music in general. I don't think that any album that was released since the beginning of the century was as revolutionary and powerful as Nothing.
The riffs here are pretty fucking outstanding. "Rational Gaze," "Perpetual Black Second," and "Straws Pulled at Random" feature some of the heaviest riffs ever created (and to make it clear-this album in its entirety is one of the heaviest and most brutal things ever recorded) show this the best- if Destroy Erase Improve and Chaosphere were known for their very odd time signatures and approach to groove and time signatures, only these songs prove that this album featured a new peak for the band. The approach to riffing was changed drastically- from mostly playing staccato power chords, the guitar players now play a very uncommon style of riffing which immediately brings the technique of bass guitar to mind, Songs like "Closed Eye Visuals" and "Glints Collide" show that type of riffing at its most clear, with sounding like the only guitars used in this album were bass guitars (which is quite funny considering it's overshadowed by the guitars in the album because of their super heavy and crushing tone). The solos were made more crawling and alien sounding, and are akin to a twisted form of jazz fusion more than to anything else, which immediately brings Destroy Erase Improve to mind.
Considering how twisted this album is musically and riff wise, the initial thought is that it couldn't get any better than that. WELL IT JUST FUCKING DID. Jens Kidman, which his face is the infinite meme-spawner, provides one of his best vocal performances of all time and sounds very mechanical and robotic but alive at the same point- in contrast with the newer Meshuggah albums in which he over-pronounces every word and sounds like Randy Blythe (but in a bad way). His staccato vocal delivery is very commanding and aggressive, which fits the music perfectly along with the ultra-tight drums which play riffs in standard time which makes the music sound ever more disjointed and mechanic, which is exactly what the band aimed for with this album. While the same approach was kept throughout most of the album's duration, no part here sounds boring, overused, too droney, or out of place.
Atmosphere-wise, this album features the classic Meshuggah feeling. Post apocalyptic, mechanical, and even industrial at some times are the words that come in mind very often. There are some points of refrain, such as the melodic outro of "Straws Pulled in Random" which is clearly one of the most memorable parts of the album, and the final track, which is the instrumental "Obsidian" that concludes the album in a calm (everything is relative) way. From the doomy section of "Nebulous," to the semi-calm and post apocalyptic "Obsidian," to the chaotic "Rational Gaze" and "Organic Shadows," this album is plain fucking killer and features one of the most dynamic atmospheres the band has ever created in their music.
Meshuggah lyrics are Meshuggah lyrics, as always. They are eccentric, unorthodox, and vary in subject from very esoteric themes to some very erratic things, which sound like they were written during a very weird acid trip. Here's an example:
"Random beats of blinding shockwaves. Erratic suns
that twist my eyes
Flashes pounding at my thoughts as the intrinsic pains
Anyway, this album is pretty fucking killer. No words needed. The production here is prefect as well, with being very bass heavy which accentuates the music and the atmosphere. NEVER GET THE RE-RECORDING THOUGH. It destroyed the album's musicianship and made it sound very forced and fake as well. Mandatory for any fan of heavy music.
"Rational Gaze" is a very interesting song. The song begins with a very heavy groove, then it works its way out of it as it continues. After that it jumps sharply into a nu-metal groove with dissonant guitar work over it, reminiscent of a less catchy attempt at something like Korn's "Blind". The song eventually works its way back into this groove that falls apart as it plays. The guitar riff is in 25/16 with the kick drum following it while the snare and cymbal play a basic beat in 4/4, with the guitar part being played five times through and wrapping up with an extra 3/16 tacked on the end. It's an interesting brand of percussive bludgeoning, kinda like a double-length Hatebreed song minus the charisma. Unless you manage to get focused on it, the song sort of just repeats itself after a few minutes.
"Straws Pulled At Random" is the other standout track on the album, with an intro riff that sounds like a bastardized spawn of The DIllinger Escape Plan's "43% Burnt". The polyrhythmic nu-metal riffing is pretty groovy here, with some strong bending on low-tuned guitars that reminds me of the funky bass playing of Fieldy from Korn. There's a break later in the song where a clean guitar part comes in and Thordendal starts building up to an epic guitar solo, with some slow melodic playing. The song never gets there and they get back to chugging away as normal. I've been hoping that the band would break some boundaries and rip into a huge melodic solo there, a wish that has been denied for ten years, though the only chance they had to do it was when they re-recorded the guitars a few years later.
The completion of the album was rushed back in 2002 as they were a last-minute addition to Ozzfest. These two songs were put on a promo CD with two tracks from In Flames' "Reroute to Remain", which is an odd pairing other than both bands being Swedish, signed to Nuclear Blast, and blowing in terms of popularity at the time.
So, about the rest of the album. It's all the same shit. Skipping through the first ten seconds of each tracks will tell you everything that you need to know about this album - there's the polyrhythmic nu-metal riffs that start on a high note, and there's the ones that start on a low note - the band has a terrible habit here of picking a dissonant interval and confining themselves to two notes. It seems like they were doing math homework and occasionally stumbled across something good. That's what listening to this album is like - it's like doing math homework. You can zone out and deal with the feeling of impending dread that this is going to make the better part of the next hour unpleasant, or you can try to count high-speed polyrhythms. Remember when you got to a point in math classes when you wondered why the hell you had to waste time on shit when everything you needed on a daily basis was at an elementary level? This album has all the suffering of math homework with none of the utility.
When it comes to the music of Meshuggah, a lot of things come to mind; technicality, polyrhythmic drumming, experimental structures, chaotic riffing. But revered above all in the holy church of Meshuggah is heaviness. And 2002's "Nothing" is the epitome of that heaviness.
Perhaps the least technical of Meshuggah's releases (though it is still quite technical by general metal standards), Nothing focuses on heavy, infectious guitar grooves as well as those odd rhythms and time signatures that mark the group's signature. Each song follows a rough pattern; find a groove, build up, find another, repeat. Although many bands who might try this approach would soon become worn out and boring, Meshuggah gives enough energy, variation and the proper execution to do it well.
The basis of all this, of course, is the guitar. The tone is crushing, and the tuning is low; as in, as low as possible. The bass is barely discernible, but that hardly matters; the guitar is so low, thick and bassy that the two guitars and bass morph together into one monolith of groove. The riffs are technical, varied and heavy. They're experimental and rhythmically diverse enough to hold your attention, yet perfect for head banging at the same time. The solos are few, and seem to be less technical in some ways than many of the riffs (at least rhythmically speaking), though they fit when applied. They have a less jazzy nature than the solos on Meshuggah's other albums, and serve more as another layer of the groove.
The drumming is both excellent and multifaceted. It keeps time (very important in an album as complex as this), but does so much more than that. It provides a neccesary backing to the guitar riffs, and completes the rhythm. However, Haake's performance also layers plenty of raw technicality onto the songs as well as accents the grooves, rather than simply going along with them. "Nothing" is so steeped in its rhythm section than anything less than a stellar drum performance would let it down. Thankfully, the performance is nothing less than that.
The vocals are simply another layer to the chaos. Jens Kidman finds a place within the groove to mount his verbal assault, and pulls it off right. The vocals are harsh and chaotic, the lyrics strange a strange, science fiction odyssey. They are a perfect fit for the music.
If I had to choose one word to describe "Nothing", it would be "mechanical". The pure technicality of the instruments, combined with the machine-like grooves makes for a wholly different approach to the genre. The album sounds sort of like an army of robots laying waste to a futuristic industrial factory. Only, the robots are shooting detuned guitar riffs and the factory produces odd, technical drum patterns. Overall, "Nothing" is not an album everyone will want to swallow, but anyone even remotely interested in the depths of extreme technical metal will want to take a bite.
The amazing thing about Meshuggah’s Nothing is that in many ways it is an album that does nothing.
On the surface this has all of the elements that gave Meshuggah their distinct sound. The bizarre time signatures are here as is the meaty guitar sound and Jens Kidman’s unique gravelly bark. The production is excellent and contributes to a very clean sound that adds to the technical sounding nature of the album. And it’s heavy. In fact it’s a positively brutal sound that even many full fledged death metal bands fail to get without relying heavily on blast beats.
Though they were always heavily influenced by their rhythm section there was always a semblance on writing some sort of song which went somewhere. If you listen to the seminal Destroy Erase Improve there is a demented thrash vibe that permeates the album coupled with more melancholy moments (e.g. Acrid Placidity). There are different tempos and each song sounds like a separate song, with its own vibe and intent. Not on Nothing.
On Nothing, Meshhugah strip away any vestige of song writing. As a result it creates the impression of one giant monotonous off kilter riff that goes on for nearly an hour. The songs, if they can be called that, merge into one another to form one giant amorphous mass. There is absolutely no variation on the album except for the pointless waffle at the end.
Contributing to the monotony is that the album seems toneless and is stuck in the same speed through out. There is no real variation in the songs, the tempo at which they’re played, the riffs played or Kidman’s vocals
In many ways it’s like listening to a CD skipping on the same spot. It is undeniably heavy and it is technically sophisticated but it’s a mindless heaviness and an equally mindless technicality.
To sum it up in five words, Nothing is mind numbingly boring.
So I guess this is Meshuggah's hardcore album; it's really slowed down and even the technicality seems scaled back a little bit. This is easily Meshuggah's slowest release, with a pretty crawling pace being the standard most of the time and a seemingly more catchy delivery being present also. This actually has some of Meshuggah's heaviest and most memorable tracks in the band's career; 'Rational Gaze' might in fact be the band's best song.
It's not so much that this is particularly less technical, but the odd time signatures seem not quite as long, or at least the riffs and rhythms are infectious and rooted enough in hardcore that this is easier to follow than your typical Meshuggah album. There's not quite as many massive shifts, the lead guitarwork is a little more melodic (I take it back, the lead at the end of 'Straws Pulled At Random' makes it the best track ever), and in general this is an easier listen than, say, 'Chaosphere'. It's still punishingly technical and Meshuggah's typical sound is still intact; this next to 'Chaosphere' may be Meshuggah's most archetypal album, and while this, like the previous album, is fully disengaged from traditional metal conventions, it's still one of the less harrowing releases in Meshuggah's discography.
What makes this album so fantastic is that it's so memorable; I mean, you've got 'Rational Gaze', 'Perpetual Black Second', 'Glints Collide'- really, if you take a look at the tracklisting, it's essentially a live Meshuggah set minus 'Future Breed Machine' and 'New Millennium Cyanide Christ'. The unusually heavy production (courtesy of the even lower than usual tuning) and overall excellent mixing (despite the very brief time the band had to produce this record) really breaths additional life into already savage songs, etching the album even more firmly into the listener's memory.
In the end, Meshuggah is Meshuggah, but those who aren't as big a fan of some of the band's more heady works might find this a good place to start. I can actually hum a few riffs from this release, which is something I can't really say for any of the others, so take from that what you will.
Musically, artistically, and metallically this is indeed nothing, as the title suggests, but from a broader perspective, it is something – to much dismay. This is seriously one of the worst creations of the human race. Fortunately it's not metal, so metal cannot be held responsible for having produced this utter nadir of a… well, thing.
There is only one real idea in this album, and that's the usage of chugging riffs with strange rhythmic values. There is an astounding lack of melody. Everything from Nunslaughter to Brodequin is melodic. This is not. Strictly speaking, yes, there are melodies in the riffs, in that they contain notes of at least two different pitches. However, the emphasis is always entirely on the rhythm (with the exception of the last riff in 'Straws Pulled at Random') and combined with the down-tuned mechanical guitars, the riffs sound like steel fragments bouncing and colliding with each other at random, not music. This is really about as metal as Korn at most.
Rhythmically, there are lots of stop-starts, strange time signatures, and polyrhythmic drumming, but they bring no interesting, let alone good, results. There is no real variation; sure, each phrase sounds quite random, disjointed, and chaotic, but they are straightforwardly repeated in the exact same way multiple times. There aren't even drum fills. It is absolutely predictable and repetitive – the rhythms do nothing save the music from the incredible monotony of the melodic department.
The rest of the music hardly does anything for the most part, leaving everything to the strange rhythmic exercise. Vocals bark monotonously, without any melody or variation in tone, adding nothing to the music but an extra layer of annoyance. Guitar solos aren't technical scale exercises, but even worse: scale exercises would have at least given some real melody, but the here, despite the extremely fluid solo tone, which is a nice contrast to the excessive sterility of everything else on the album but still quite annoying in itself, there are many stop-starts, making the music more mechanical, and often they just sound like background noise, which isn't as bad as the riffs but still don't compensate for them. Now, there are exceptions: 'Closed Eye Visuals' and 'Straws Pulled at Random' actually contain melodic solos, and while they lack any direction and are frequently disturbed by the riffs, by the very fact that they are melodic, they constitute the highlight of the album.
Generally songs go through a cycle of riffs and verses twice, and then proceed to a different section, which usually includes a guitar solo. However, the presence of a certain pattern does not equate to structure. Each riff is interchangeable with another, and each song has little to no difference from another. If you've heard one riff, then you've heard the entire album. There is no sense of progression, climax, or variation; it's simply riff after riff, and leaves almost no breathing space to at least take a rest before being bombarded with the noise. Some exceptions include the clean guitar sections of 'Closed Eye Visuals' and the aforetime mentioned riff with some melody which appears in 'Straws Pulled at Random.' 'Spasm' is also one of the most tolerable songs because there is a lead melody in the background, which is played throughout the song. However, not all exceptions are positive ones; the closer 'Obsidian' is on a whole new level of monotony by itself. After a tolerable ambient intro, it plays a single riff for more than five minutes (on the re-recorded version). It doesn't even have any vocals, and there is one drum hit per phrase. It is obviously boring, annoying, repulsive, etc. but these several objective facts about the song will suffice.
This is barely even music, let alone metal, and it is literally an audial torture that makes free jazz and twelve-tone classical sound like easy listening music. Hell, listening to John Cage's '4:33' is likely to yield a much more musical experience than listening to 'Nothing,' and any garbage from melodeath to pop punk actually becomes enjoyable for a while after listening to this. Titling this album 'Nothing' is an insult to nothingness.
Meshuggah was always an anomaly in metal. They play a style similar to thrash, but in countless seemingly random time signatures. At first they were fairly standard thrash, but their own unique sound soon began to develop and continued to do so. On Destroy.Erase.Improve. they began their mathematics influenced style and furthered their sound on Chaossphere. This is the pinnacle of their sound when it comes to mathematic brutality. There is nothing organic here.
Nothing is by far the grooviest album that Meshuggah has ever recorded, as well as one of the strangest. The music rarely accelerates beyond mid temp and is at times even slower than that. The riffs are a mixture of oddly timed power chords and off kilter bends. The album sounds like nothing that you’ve ever heard before. It is calculating and unmerciful in a way that no prior album has even attempted to be. The rhythms are truly twisted. The music is anything but predictable and at times it seems as if the time signatures and beats were devised at random and played by machines. The album is chaotic in an organized and regimented fashion. It sounds as if it could fall at any second, but from the first note you know that it never will.
This is the first album that Meshuggah began to use their (now famous) eight stringed guitars. As such the album is far heavier than any of their earlier works, and their earlier works are a far cry from soft. The riffs are mostly comprised of either power chords or single notes on the lower of the two strings, sometimes relying on a combination of the two. Colossal bends frequently appear to further distort the landscape. Thorendal’s solos are masterful displays of tapping and the like. They are far from pointless wankery, instead they further enhance the odd, almost otherworldly, feel of the music. The bass generally follows the guitars, and overall seems to shine a bit less than on some of Meshuggah’s previous works. All the same, it is right in the thick of things as it backs up the grooves and is an indispensable part of the sound.
The drumming is incredible and unique. It is more subdued than on albums like Chaossphere or Destroy.Erase.Improve. but it is no less impressive. The drums are frequently operating in more than one time signature. Polyrhythmic beats are also fairly prevalent on this album. While the drums are a constantly flowing enigma of contorted rhythms, the drums never relinquish their most basic role: the keeping of time (a skill that several tech death drummers have yet to master). The snare drum will frequently act as a near metronome and keep a four/four undercurrent to the otherwise odd time signatures. As a final note, while the drumming has countless interesting beats, there are no fills. This serves to enhance the robotic aspect of the music. Haake truly could pass off as a drum machine if he wanted to. In fact, he pulled off a better inhuman and robotic performance here than the drum machine did on Catch Thirty Three.
The vocals are yet another perplexing aspect of Meshuggah’s sound. They consist of hardcore esque shouts, yet they sound more robotic than any distorted effects could ever yield and less human than the most guttural of singers. They have absolutely no emotion, and in this case, that turns out to be one of their greatest assets. (On Spasm Haake takes over the vocal duties and through the use of several odd effects continues the tirade of bizarre and robotic assaults.) The singing is spot on at all times. It doesn’t always follow the guitars (I’m not even sure if it would be humanly possible to do so…) but frequently provides yet another heavy as hell backbone for the music to rest on.
The lyrics are breathtaking. They are philosophical and abstract lyrics, yet they manage to fit perfectly into the music. One of the major themes seems to be paradoxes, as exhibited by the second track (Rational Gaze): ‘Squint your eyes to see clearly/Blur reality to make it real/let focus go from your deceiving eyes to know what’s been concealed/we’ve all been blinded – subjects to visual misinformation/a systematic denial of the crystalline.’ They fit the paradoxical nature of the music itself perfectly and add another strike against everything that standard music is comprised of. While many bands go completely overboard in the field of thoughtful lyrics Meshuggah certainly do not and craft some of the greatest lyrics that I’ve ever heard.
This is the first Meshuggah album to feature the quirky ambient bits that were so prevalent on Catch ThirtyThree. They aren’t as forward, or as common, as they were on that album, but they’re undoubtedly there.
The production on Nothing is very odd. It is completely sterile. Save the sound of the perfectly captured instruments there are NO other sounds. This could truly have been recorded in a vacuum. In addition, the guitar tones are truly unique. They’re incredible low due to the use of eight strings, yet there is almost no fuzz on their distortion which makes them have a sound that I’ve yet to hear anything like.
Nothing truly sounds robotic. I’m not using that as an expression. I’m saying that it truly sounds like machines made this. It is precise to a seemingly inhuman degree and there’s nothing organic about it at all. Due to the inorganic nature of the riffs and the incredibly low nature of the guitars this is truly one of the heaviest albums I’ve ever heard. It isn’t brutal at all – don’t expect something like Nile or Devourment – but is heavy in the way that a multi ton robotic tank is heavy. Unmercifully heavy.
Variation is next to none existent on this disk. While it’s like nothing that you’ve ever heard before, the songs are all fairly similar. I’m not saying this in a negative way, as it was undoubtedly intentional and greatly aids the music. From the beginning to the end every song is fairly similar (not to say that you won’t have favorites, you undoubtedly will as several of them do have some unique characteristics). The monotony is yet another example of the robotic feel of the album. To truly experience it, you must listen to it straight through. At the same time, each individual track is strong enough to be listened to on its own.
After all this praise it seems as if Nothing is a near perfect album that I’d recommend to everyone. Well, I would recommend it to almost everyone, but not right away. It’s an atrocious starting album for Meshuggah and if you haven’t heard them I’d recommend getting obZen first. This album also requires several listens to sink in. The first few times I heard it I was completely under-whelmed and it is only recently that its true majesty has been revealed to me. It certainly doesn’t help that the first track, Stengah, is probably the most sterile and inaccessible songs on here. Still, this is undoubtedly a landmark album and anyone looking to hear something completely out of the ordinary is strongly recommended to give it a try.
When any discussion of Meshuggah comes into play, eventually it leads to Chaosphere. Indeed, Chaosphere is insidiously heavy, brutal, and punishing, and when you need insidiously brutal, Chaosphere gets the job done. It certainly works as a rap repellant, countering those uninspired beats and stupid rhymes with a good dose of good ol' fashioned heavy metal hate and aggression.
However, when I want catchy (not necessarily melodic), weirdly enjoyable, robotic anthems that make me wanna get up and robot brakedance (if I only knew how), I turn to Nothing. Why? On Nothing, as opposed to previous albums, the songs are primarily rhythmic, with a few melodies here and there, and the drums are the song. The polyrhythms Haake plays here are often 4/4 with the cymbals/hihat and some other weird rhythm with the bass drum, and the snare often alternates between the two. The songs here, instead of possession seemingly unending craziness, settle into an almost druglike groove, unrepentently going on and on, through all sorts of permutations and distortions, before climaxing and fading away in a hallucinogenic sea of madness. The solos are not particularly technical compared to everything else Meshuggah has done, but they are indeed catchy in a weird way, and interact with the rest of the instruments to create almost psychedelic patterns. The songs possess a slight hallucinogenic quality to them, because while Meshuggah seem chaotic at first, around this album, they settle into an ordered chaos, chaos that has run its course, and is now resembling order as the chaotic barrage of information congregates into a mosaic incomprehensible but beautiful all the same.
This sound familiar? If not, then try acid. Either way, Nothing is probably Meshuggah's best, as the atmosphere on here is killer and the rhythms are ingenius.
"Nothing" is Meshuggah's forth offering. Released in 2002 on Nuclear Blast, this is one hell of a heavy album. Considering the band's name translated into English means "Crazy", one can say that the band's name is very apt.
Primarily i am a Black Metal fan, so venturing to this side of the Metal genre made me feel slightly apprehensive, if not a little nervous at what i might come across. This was actually the first Meshuggah album that i had the chance to listen to. Meshuggah were highly recommended to me when i was younger by fellow Metal lovers, so naturally, i wanted to be open minded and give it a try.
Meshuggah certainly are talented, there is no doubt about that. Creating a very unusual type of music which appears to have elements of many different genres all thrown into one. Jazz, Thrash, and various other forms of Metal are all fused together in a brutal, harsh and extremely technical manner. Being a Black Metal fan means i'm more accustomed to simplicity and creation of music through sheer emotion and atmosphere, so i was a little out of my depth when i listened to "Nothing". However, after a certain period of time the music Meshuggah create becomes more accessible to the listener, it just requires a lot of patience. To me, technicalities don't make good music. They just cover up the faults of a band, which is sadly what happens in Meshuggah's case. As with previous albums, songwriting is a problem. There are far too many generic tracks. It doesn't make any sense. How can a band go from creating "Perpetual Black Second" to creating something like "Organic Shadows"? It makes no sense. Also, however technical Meshuggah are in parts, they have a habit of repeating chords time and time again. Bass is often indistinguishable from the rest of the music. The drums are too overbearing. The vocals are fine in parts, but in tracks like "Organic Shadows" they shift to something which can only be described as a man with constipation.
For all it's bad points Meshuggah do hold some positives. The production is crystal clear. A small proportion of songs are creative, innovative and extremely catchy. The vocals can often be quite fitting, though at points quite disappointing. They're brutal and portray a sheer hatred. The music itself depicts the lyrical themes quite well, in my opinion. You can see the intent ... It certainly sounds futuristic and chaotic. One cannot help but admire the ability and potential this band has.
Highlights include Rational Gaze, the excellent Perpetual Black Second and Closed Eye Visuals.
Having never heard Meshuggah before I bought this album, I had no idea what to expect. One thing I wasn't expecting though was for this album to be so damn heavy and brutal, and so damn good.
This album jumps at you straight away and doesn't let go. Stengah is a sickeningly brutal song, with very downtuned guitars playing a jarring staccato beat. The drums lock in very very tightly with the guitars, and then the vocals kick in, being a dry hardcore kinda bark. It's rather excellent stuff, and it doesn't let up for a very long time.
Most of the riffs sound fairly similar in this album, but repeated listens show off the variety in this album. The jarring, staccato stutter of Stengah, the super strange time sigs and speed of Glints Collide, the kinda thrashy (?) opening riff of Straws Pulled at Random, and the list goes on. The cool thing is, Meshuggah are capable of doing fairly cool clean parts as well, like in the opening of Obsidian. They're done very rarely as well, which makes them sound all the more cooler, and which makes the heavier parts even heavier.
I haven't mentioned the drums yet, but they're amazing too. For the most part, they play relatively simple beats, with the occaisonal complex pattern. Glints Collide is a great example of this, with an incredibly complex opening drum beat. Of course, the Polyrythyms, with is a Meshuggah signature, play a huge part in this record, really making the whole thing more jarring and off beat. They must be incredibly difficult to play live as well. Polyrythyms=Hard.
To conclude, I have no idea how this album compared to other Meshuggah albums, or if it's a good introduction, or whatever. It's not a very easy listen, and for some it will sound mind-numbingly repetitive and dull. But a few listens reveal that this album is a gem. You don't need this album, but you should buy it anyway.
I think the best way to look at this cd is in the context to which the band wrote it. there is no bass player on this cd they used eight string guitars, also, they are a rhythmic band, its not thrash anymore they did away with the thrash elements, which in my opinion made the music more mainstream (like we need anymore Metallica rip-off bands). Most of the complaints people levy against this cd pertain to things such as repetition, but its only repetitious to those who don't listen carefully. Another complaint is the cd is "easier" or less complex, which is untrue, this album is very complex probably moreso than what they did in the past, its the natural progression of things you can't expect a band to continue to release albums that continue to use the exact same elements their previous works used, you'd probably find another reason to complain then.
The album itself is slower, and as previously stated their really no thrash elements in this piece. The lyrical themes are basically the same, however lyrics seem to have always taken the backseat in meshuggah's work. The guitar parts are weird, really weird, the rhythms are becoming more and more complex (which is a good thing, if you have the patience to understand), the meter is odd and the solo's compliment nicely. There is more of a jazzier element to the album, particularly as it pertains to solos, listen to closed eye visuals to get what I mean.
In conclusion, the best way to listen to this music is to realize its an opus of complex rythmns, and has nothing to do with melody. Quit judging Meshuggah based on their past works and judge each piece individually. Patience is imporant, I didn't like Meshuggah the first time I heard it (thought it was all the same) but after I opened my ears, the music began to make more sense. The band intentionally dropped many of the thrash elements from their music to make way for the more intense and intelligent beats to be brought into the foreground. If thrash elements had been added to this album, it would have been a wishy washy mess. This is the new evolution that is Meshuggah and it is a welcome change in my opinion.
Reading the reviews of Meshuggah there seem to be two prevailing views: either it's the most brilliantly technical album ever, or it's the most boring album in the history of metal. I'll take a middle-position, and here's why: I have an affinity for intricacy and complex patterns in music, but my knowledge of musical technicality is limited to the terms tone-heigth, riff, solo and tremolo-picking, and I'm probably misusing those half the time. So this review is for people who like me can make out time-changes only if explicitly told where, and then still with difficulty.
The downtuned guitars are what you notice the first when listening to this album. They're immensely downtuned, and vary in tone relatively little. But in that small margin of tone-variation, they use the whole spectrum extensively. What this means is that the guitars play complex riffs, but you have to expend extra energy to make them out completely. The vocals mirror this: the harsh drill-instructor screams bark rythmically, matching the other instruments, not only in rythm, but also in tone; little margin, but precision therein. The exception seems to come from the occasional solo, although I'm not sure if one could call them solos. Hypnotic and patterned, they use the higher tones achievable on the 8-string guitars used, for that eery contrast with the rest of the guitarsound.
Jarring is the right word to describe the riffs. These are riffs that get on someone's nerves really quickly if that person is not into this sort of music. Counter-intuitive and a-typical, they are planned out meticulously however, to create a complex overall pattern. This album wouldn't have worked if the whole band wasn't on the same line in both technical skill and intent. I wouldn't say all elements fall together seemlessly. A more accurate comparison would be to liken this album to a modernist industrial oilrefinery: an accumulation of hard steel formed into a complex whole hard to oversee by a single person. Ugly, lifeless and harsh to common sensibility, but pleasing to some.
Hence the two differing views. I've got to hand one thing to the criticasters: it's extremely tiring and mentally draining to listen to 10 tracks of jarring music, and this album would've benefitted from having two random songs cut out. In the end they all start to sound like eachother.
This is the latest album from Swedish post-thrash gods Meshuggah. Although this release isn't as straightforward or ass-kicking as the classic Destroy Erase Improve, it is very groundbreaking for the band and for metal in general. Here we have a collection of songs that don't function particularly well individually and don't really 'stand out', but rather make up a long, complicated, jarring journey of sound.
Present here are Meshuggah's trademark use of odd time signatures, abrupt changes in rhythm, Fredrik Thordenthal's bizarre insect-like guitar-soloing, and the drill-sergeant barking of the vocalist.
What sets this apart from Destroy Erase Improve and previous releases is that it is heavier and the songs all run together, each song possessing a relentless groove that starts almost immediately and changes directions frequently. I'm hard-pressed to even call this album thrash in any respect, whether it be post-thrash or even plain thrash, because it's just not straightforward enough.
Meshuggah have truly forged a unique sound on this album, and even though Meshuggah fans and other metalheads may dislike the new sound, I enjoy it and I think people should respect artists' wishes to evolve their sound. I'm sure everyone can rest assure that the band is not capable of selling out.
Some of the best soloing occurs on this album, the best one probably occurring on Glints Collide. Man, that's insane stuff. The classic 'robotic' voice is reprised on this album too on the track Nebulous. I see nothing wrong with hearing a full album of the drill-sergeant rants, but it's nice to hear a change of vocals and it adds a further creepy dimension to their music.
The only throwaway track on the album is the last track, Obsidian. It's nothing more than one simple riff repeated over and over again. I suppose it's done for a foreboding effect, insinuating "We're not finished with you yet. Wait til the next album comes out, it will kick your ass.", but it's generally annoying.
I recommend this album to all who seek something heavy and unconventional in their metal, as this album is far from your typical release from a band that is less than typical themselves.