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As I prepare my rectum for the Meshuggah concert coming up in the couple of days, I've done a fair bit of introspection; trying to figure out how relevant this band still is in my life, considering they were one the few bands that basically got me hooked on metal in general, back when I was a wee lad. Well this introspection could come have come a better time, because in the midst of this meditative seclusion Pitch Black was released, and unfortunately a lot more heads will be scratched than banged with this 2013 dud.
It appears as though Pitch Black is Meshuggah's one-click excuse to release another trippy album cover, so it would seem. Consisting of one half-assed rerecording of a song from years ago and pretty solid live rendition of Dancers To A Discordant System, this mini EP clearly didn't take a whole of careful craftsmanship. The issue lies most apparently, not in the quality of the work presented, but its scarcity, reeling in at under 16 minutes. If the tracks given to us were issued as bonus content on a foreign album release not many would complain, as such things can be written off with ease, but the fact a whole separate release was garnered, albeit a free one, is something that will surely irk die-hard Meshuggah fans.
The title track is easily the most underwhelming part of this release considering it is void of any passion (regardless of how mechanical Meshuggah's passion sounds) thanks to the absence of everyone but Fredrick Thordendal, and his robotic vocoder work. Musically its a cut below what the band is capable of and the production, while passable, lacks the gritty crunch that so efficiently caused hemorrhaging on their previous efforts. The lack of Jens makes the track reminiscent of Catch Thirtythree's errie Mind's Mirrors or something off Thordendal's Special Defects. As such, if were placed somewhere midroad on an album it could at least carry its own weight. However as a standalone effort its lack of climactic release snuffs out its momentum well before song end.
There isn't much to be said about the live track here; it's good, and just like every other live release this band has made, it almost sounds better than their studio work - especially Jens' vocals which seem more robust.
If Pitch Black wasn't free, you could bet on finding some angry metalheads at your local HMV, but the fact it was released for free by a goddamn car company makes it worth spinning if you're a fan of the band. However if you're nothing more than a casual fan, you are MUCH better off diving into one of the band's stellar full lengths for your 'shuggah fix. I for one find myself questioning what the motivating factor is for a respectable band to release such a haphazard EP.