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Crushing... - 91%

langstondrive, June 14th, 2005

It's going to be difficult to match the articulated brilliance and linguistic mastery of the previous review, but here it goes. Meshuggah's latest album, "Catch Thirty-Three" is perhaps their strangest offering to date, the reason being that they make use of...a drum machine. Now, after listening to previous Meshuggah albums such as "Chaosphere" and "Nothing", I'm sure that Tomas Haake would be able to play this stuff, so it leaves me to wonder why they opted for the machine, possibly to make this grating music more cerebral than it already is?

This is where Meshuggah is definitely a polarized band amongst metal fans - their music is so damn scary and robotic that it scares many off into mindlessly insulting them as a sort of "math-nu" metal. Label them as one may, Meshuggah deliver what was expected of them, musically, on this album. While it may be indeed "one song", it definitely has breaks and changes, although the opening riff does stretch longer than it should. Kidman's vocals are horrendous and sound even more robotic than on previous albums, but again, they suit the music wonderfully.

Despite the lack of live drums, the musicianship is still mind-blowing, especially in the guitar riffs. Listen to "In Death - Is Death" to see what I mean. Also, as was hinted on the EP "I", there are more instances of strange ambience, "Mind's Mirrors", for example, I can see as a being a turn-off to fans, myself included. In my opinion, Meshuggah should stick with the technical debauchery rather than testing the trance waters. As for specific high points on the album? "Autonomy Lost", as well as its musical successors are powered by a familiar sounding riff ("I", anyone?), "In Death - Is Death" is over 13 minutes, and is a difficult journey to get through, but incredibly scary in musicianship. "Personae_non_gratae" is likely the most difficult song to head bang to ever, as well as the follower, "Dehumanization". The album's closer, "Sum" ends with a long scream, and ambience to conclude this work.

As others will no doubt inform you, this album is definitely not for anyone, but if there is somewhere to start with Meshuggah, "Catch Thirty-Three", in my mind, can be considered their most accessable album. Give it a chance. To borrow a quote from my friend: "You have bands like Tool and Floyd bringing emotion and love to music...and then you have Meshuggah, bringing the mathematics of hell".

Just you try it on.