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I never understood the hype for Meshuggah. Maybe on Destroy Erase Improve and Chaosphere they were playing a more spastic and unconventional form of groove meddle with mechanical riffing, but beginning with Nothing any sense of vitality they had was thrown out the window in favor of playing nu-meddle with "tuned down lower than usual" guitars and "odd-time" drumming. This approach they have taken since the 2000s continues here in a monotonous display of bowel movement noises produced on guitars without rhyme or reason. Some people would suggest "I just don't get it", and maybe they're right. I just don't get what's so good about a drummer floundering around brain simple 2 note riffs that wouldn't be out of place on a Korn album recorded on the protools with a guy screaming like a Hyena getting sodomized Deliverance style over it all.
The song begins and ends the same way. 2 note riffs that sound like bowel movement noises are "highlighted" by a clean, effected guitar track underneath it while a drummer attempts to inject complexity by unnecessarily playing up the role of his drum kit in an otherwise simple song. The vocals sound more along the lines of the "spooky" narrations Mudvayne or Slipknot would do, so if this is a "nu" approach to the Meshuggah sound, at least they're finally admitting they just want to be the artsy-fartsy version of Korn. Over this same riff, a guitar solo that sounds like something John Zorn would have thrown out in the early 90s randomly races in. Finally, we get to the clean Allan Holdsworth noodling over the bass line of that riff... then it occurs to you: not a lot has happened in this song. It literally is one riff played in different time signatures by way of the drummer changing how he approaches playing to this one riff given ornamentation by a second guitar track that either adds clean noodling or bad solos underneath. That's really it. Lyrically, Meshuggah actually display a great deal of intelligence but like any song from them, it feels like ill fitting words thrown onto sparse music that wouldn't be given the time of day if not for their 90s discography and 8 string guitar gimmick.
The next track is a live recording that, aside from some audience noise in the beginning, sounds almost exactly the same. A clean guitar riff comes in, then they throw on the distortion pedal, then back to a clean track... This band really reminds me of the soft-heavy, quiet-loud nu-meddle from the early 2000s. The fact that Meshuggah receives so much praise is almost scary because the music is so brain dead simple and arranged in such a boringly linear fashion that this comes off as being no more complex than AC/DC. Throw out the calculus and math arguments about the counterpoints (really clean guitar augmenting bowel movement sounds) and the "complex time signatures" (really just a drummer changing his pattern around lifeless riffs) and you end up with nu-meddle. The second song features the "extreme" vocal delivery of their earlier works, but aside from that it's almost comedic how redundant this band has become. Maybe this is why so many people like them: they're currently occupying the same space that nu-meddle held in the early 2000s, but doing a better job fooling the world that it's actually metal (marketing banter by "progressive" fans helps too). Don't believe the hype surrounding this band, but if you're inclined to hear this, it's free.