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The Concrete Leper Speaks - 85%

psychoticnicholai, September 4th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, Nuclear Blast America

None is where Meshuggah give us the first taste of the experimental and groove-heavy metal that they base their whole career and signature sound around. This isn't a derivative thrash piece like Contradictions Collapse. In fact, this establishes the sound of Destroy Erase Improve in a big change from their older thrash sound. I guess this is because Meshuggah were looking to carve a sound for themselves that they felt was more for them rather than imitating someone else. So, they make the jump from technical thrash to technical groove metal, though this is much heavier and more compositionally advanced than any popular groove bands. None is a heavy experiment in getting the most muscle out of strange rhythms and creating a mighty pummeling atmosphere of mechanical chaos with Meshuggah gaining an identity of their own and settling into their true musical modus operandi.

Heavy on the polyrhythms, centered on grooves, and with a churning pulse that feels like heavy machinery punching through metal, this is how None sounds. This is the case for almost all of the songs involved and it shows just how well these guys can carry a rhythm. This is all about bounce and punch with this being the first EP to flirt with basing its most of its sound around the technique of djenting. It even stands apart from Destroy Erase Improve in this regard since this EP is even djentier than that album. That alone makes this EP unique, especially because Meshuggah would end up inspiring so many imitators with this, but this EP still stands above a lot of what came when djenting became a trend. They tie the proto-djenting together in with heavy rhythms that pound and roar with the intensity of a car crusher. The song that stands out the most is "Ritual" since it's the most melodic of the bunch with psychedelic-effects-laden clean guitars and Jens Kidman actually singing, yeah, he's singing on this song instead of his normal shouts, and it fits because this song is meant to be trippier. It sounds weird, but it actually makes for a nice song. The other standout track is "Gods of Rapture" simply because this song has a catchier riff and verses with gang shout punctuating the already vicious rhythm. Thordendal's guitar riffs feel like a spring-loaded repeat pummeling that makes you want to fling yourself around to them and Haake's precision drum pounding only gives it more impact. Music-wise, None stands well on its own, and hits with savage force and plenty of damn sweet catchy grooves too.

Meshuggah establish their own identity with this EP. They also pioneer a style that few have been able to approach in a great way (djent) and run with it like naturals. What they make here is something that is pretty unique that also has some songs that you can come back to for a nice session of strength training, mosh dancing, or an episode of smashing appliances with a sledgehammer. This may not be at the power level of Destroy Erase Improve, but damn if it isn't close. It's like a little taste of the explosive hellfire to come. You have a damn good EP with plenty to offer and a solid helping of heavily technical rhythmic punishment.

All my life I regret - 90%

SoundsofDecay, September 3rd, 2014

1993’s None is a transitional release for Meshuggah. The dissonant, proggy and polymetric thrash of Contradictions Collapse has morphed into dark, dissonant and technical groove metal with a lot of mid paced riffing. There are still some fast and thrashy riffs on this EP, but there is also an abundance of monstrous, mid-tempo low end grooves like those that are the basis of tunes like “Sickening”’s relentless grinding. None sees Meshuggah anticipating the full on industrial/groove thrash fusion-influenced metal of the breakthrough Destroy Erase Improve (who's sound it most resembles, despite being included in the reissue of CC) album two years later. There is more of an ambiance here, with some weird synth passages showing up in both “Sickening” and the varied tempos of “Gods of Rapture”, which features a startling solo from Fredrick Thordendal. One track, “Ritual”, is mostly clean sung by Kidman and starts out sounding uncannily like Alice In Chains before those churning heavy grooves return to back up one of Thordendal’s jazzy leads with machine-like precision.

The lyrical themes have begun to drift into dark existential realms, instead of the environmental/political and addiction themed songs of the debut, foreshadowing the eventual esoteric direction showcased on later albums like Chaosphere and Nothing. The guitars of Thordendal and Hagstrom (who makes his debut with the band here) are further downtuned on None, and accompanied by rumbling distorted bass which still holds down the majority of the low end at this point (no eight stringed guitars yet). Jens Kidman isn’t quite at his “drill sergeant” technique yet, more like a melodic shouting with some anguished hardcore sounding vocals, and as mentioned even does some singing. The “gang shout” thrash backing vocals are still present, vaguely recalling the first album, and are used in much the same way. Haake displays inventive and infectious beats as ever, even at this early stage. I especially like what he does with the snare and hi-hat. The overall sound of the EP is quite raw and live sounding, with an urgency that really helps to drive the tunes. Of course, its not as stupidly bassy, or heavy, or as polished as some of the later stuff, but this only an EP and an early one at that.

This is the first release where Meshuggah’s distinctive drum/guitar interplay begins to really come into focus, which would later define their sound from DEI onwards. Riffs and rhythms seem to shift and permutate subtly over the course of repetitions. There is a quasi “nu metal” feel to a lot of this EP, but its really only there at a superficial level and overall what they’re doing is far more musically interesting. The “true” Meshuggah sound arguably begins on this EP, which makes it of some significance in their discography. Personally I think it is a strong highlight of their early career and good companion piece to Destroy Erase Improve.

A great EP. - 90%

Akheon, July 11th, 2008

On this EP Meshuggah are mostly mid-tempo, try out strange but not overtly technical grooves, remain pretty thrashy and are about to change their lyrical themes. Every song is very tight, though unusually composed in the sense that repetition is minimal. It's just a groovy riff after another, with changing dynamics and verses, assorted in an order that will seem pretty unfulfilling first. This takes time to get into.

Slow progression through mechanized emotions is the core of this music. Countless of subtleties make the soundscape rich in its agonizing sterility. Meshuggah portray an impossible state of mind too nasty to touch with mere words.

Unlike in their future works, they use acoustic guitar somewhat often in the songs and Kidman's shouts are much more melodic (especially on "Ritual", where he practically sings). Overall it's an interesting chapter of this band's history... An useful listen to this band's fans or people who care about dark concepts in music.