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The infinite regression of cybernetic flatulence. - 14%

hells_unicorn, March 26th, 2014

The visual of a mechanical entity experiencing the precursor to what we humanoids refer to as "the call of nature" might seem a compelling fit of originality by modern metal standards, as well as by the likes of Rolling Stone magazine and Alternative Press, but minds less bound by the bizarre world of random aesthetic interpretation can relegate such a concept to the commonplace realm of farts. While maybe a somewhat harsh indictment of Meshuggah's pioneering "djent" offering Nothing and the hype surrounding it, it stands as a fairly good description of the auditory junkyard of nu-metal influences and jumbled progressive quirks that somehow manage to produce an overtly banal waste of an hour's worth of time.

The spontaneity of ripping off an impressive one can make for an occasional treat at a frat party or band practice, but it's a bit excessive to sample a couple dozen different sounds of methane expulsion and turn it into a cacophony of mixed meter rhythms with drums triggered into oblivion. To be clear, the organization of the riffs themselves is impeccable, which hints at why the cybernetic aspect of the displeasing aroma causing sounds needs to be underscored. The employment of down-tuned 8-string guitars leaves one wondering why Meshuggah even bothers keeping a bassist in the fold, as it does little more than double the low-hanging rot attempting to pass as groove riffs. Occasionally an atmospheric middle range guitar drone comes in to provide an additional layer of atmosphere, and the semi-frequent employment of guitar solos does provide a fleeting yet needed distraction from the monotony of the arrangement, but their effectiveness is stymied by the pervasive, percussive punches of the overemphasized rhythm guitars.

Zeroing in on an individual song is largely a pointless affair as the stilted minimalism of Meshuggah's pioneered style doesn't bother to escape its one-dimensional confines, though one might be able to separate the closer "Obsidian" from the pack given that it drones on with even more boring results than its 9 predecessors and lasts almost twice as long. Everything seems to be an exercise in repetition and sectional contrast largely comes in shifting a couple rhythms around here and there, and woe be anyone who expects even a few seconds of this thing to venture anywhere beyond a frustrating slow mid-tempo trot. Likewise, the vocals prove to be a perfect fit for the rest of the arrangement, taking maybe one or two different versions of a mid-90s Phil Anselmo gruff scream and occasionally switching out for a random spoken section. In other words, the vapidity pervades the whole, and no crevice is spared.

Dealing with the latest fixation that modern rock listeners drool over is an exercise in discovery, and the discovery often found is that in spite of new fads being a frequent affair, they don't seem to change all that much. The succession from the mid 90s nu-metal craze to what would become djent is on full display here, almost as if Meshuggah simply took a topical mechanistic character with some progressive trappings and simply revamped what was heard on Roots and The More Things Change. This isn't to say that Meshuggah's entire catalog isn't worth a look for those inclined towards groovy modern metal, but the masses and the media will often flock to a band's worse outing and hail it as a new awakening, when in truth, this album is dangerously close to being worth what its namesake denotes.