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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.