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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.