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I was recommended this band a while back by a friend who also happened to be a guitarist. He said that this band was nothing like he's ever heard along with the fact that it's heavy. Oh yes, this record is nothing like any other technical/progressive metal CD. It's heavy alright. And It's unique, and it's obscenely technical as hell with the well-timed poly-rhythms despite the "riffs" being mainly power chords that many other technical bands like Suffocation and Necrophagist could pull off if not for said poly-rhythms.
When I bought the album, I was, um surprised. It was rather odd. Instead of the general wankery that is found in tech death, we get oddly, but well timed power chords and Drummer Thomas Haake's does not blast the drums insanely fast like the ones found in Dave Mackintosh's or Pete Sandoval's drum performance, but rather, follows the same pattern as the guitars. The songs managed to be heavy with the down-tuned as fuck guitars and Jen's screaming. None of the songs were all that fast, or at all.
Fans I know have claimed that this band is an acquired taste, even among metalheads, and now I know why - The music itself isn't that fast, which might be a turn-off to some people. A common thing most praised albums here (Nevermore's This Godless Endevor, Slayer's Reign in Blood, and Dragonforce's Valley of the Damned) are that they're very fast. Metal newbies would merely scoff at this band and mistake the poly-rhythms as mere chugging in a repetitive manner. However, I didn't think these as bad traits that took away from the music. I enjoy slow music every now and then, and some of the bands I like can be simplistic-sounding at times and still be enjoyable.
So what's my main issue with this release? Well, let's put it this way - THE ENTIRE FUCKING ALBUM IS MONOTONE AS ALL HELL. Yes, this record shows that speed is not necessary to be technical. It also shows that these guys and similar bands like Tool are way ahead of their time as far as technical musicianship goes. But that's all there is to it, sadly. Save for the unique sound and variety in just about everything, they have absolutely nothing going for them. Melody? Soul? Fuck that shit. Meshuggah focuses almost entirely on technical musicianship and mechanical brutality. Additionally, Kidsman is arguably the weakest link of the band. His screams don't start all that bad at first, but it get's annoying as hell later hearing him shout without any soul.
Then I realized something. The overall musical and lyrical themes focus on robotics and the apocalypse in the far future. These guys are not trying to be melodic or catchy, or even fun to listen to. The monotony in near just about everything they do is intentional, for example, Jens Kidsman's vocals sounds robotic and has no variation or actual power and emotion. I gave the song "Bleed" another listen and tried to imagine that Jens was a robot trying to do a death metal growl (LMAO at the thought.) instead of a man screaming rather monotonously, and well, the music made more sense. Hence, the unusually high score I gave it.
Definitely a unique band that can do what they were aiming for, and I will at least applaud them for going for the sound that they were going for. Sadly, I cannot go any higher than a 70 simply cause I could not fully enjoy the music.