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Swarm - 90%

FullMetalAttorney, September 14th, 2012

I’ve mentioned Meshuggah many, many times on my blog. It’s really no secret they are one of my favorite bands, and have done more to shape my musical taste than nearly anyone else. In reading a review of a band as iconic as Meshuggah, you should always be aware of how the reviewer stands, and I must put it out there that this may not be entirely un-biased I pretty much think they can do no wrong.

Koloss is the Swedish experimentalists’ eighth full-length album. Many commenters have noted that they sound more organic this time around, and then struggle to explain exactly what they mean. This is clearly still a Meshuggah album, after all, so it still doesn’t feel natural to our human sensibilities. Think of it this way: Where prior Meshuggah albums are the audio representation of a complex industrial machine on the verge of flying into pieces, Koloss is more like footage of all the activity in a massive ant colony played at double-speed. Organic, yes, but alien.

That is really the only necessary observation about the record. It’s Meshuggah, but the instruments sound more real, and they sound more like a band—much as they do in their live material. The songs are in their unmistakable polyrhythmic style, but are somewhat simpler if no less bizarre.

It is a welcome step. In the time since 2008’s ObZen, an entire genre has sprung up around the mechanical complexity of the band’s sound, and constant comparisons of djent bands to Meshuggah have sullied the legends’ name. Some have even called Meshuggah a djent band, although they are no more djent than Psycho is a slasher film.

And did I mention the songs are excellent? The only thing it's missing is a real skullsmasher of a track. There's no "Bleed," "Future Breed Machine," or "Rational Gaze" here.

The Verdict: Koloss helps Meshuggah to define themselves, and to distance themselves from the misguided web forum swarms who seek to claim them.