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El sueño de la razón produce monstruos - 44%

DemonFeces, February 26th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Nuclear Blast (Digipak)

The Sleep of Reason is an etching by Francisco Goya, Spanish artist of the late 18th / early 19th century. It depicts a man sitting down at a table with his head resting on his arms asleep with bats, owls & other baddies flying above. Meshuggah was formed in '88 and this late into their career they are still trying to dig out of their smudged history. Released in 2016 Violent Sleep of Reason may be a metaphoric title as perhaps a little rest allowed the Swedish stalwarts to rekindle some of their origins by getting rid of some of the bats in the belfry. What I mean is that there's a little less djent aspects and more death/thrash elements.

Ever since the invention and subsequent implementation of the infamous 8th guitar string, Meshuggah's sound went from a standard death/thrash tone quality to this massive bassy throbbing dirge. Enter: DJENT. The only song that is stylistically this, in it's entirely, is the mind-numbing downward spiral of dejected diarrhea that is 'Ivory Tower.' Luckily this obligatory slowness is tucked in just past halfway and the rest of the recordings are examples of a Meshuggah somewhat reawakened. Opening track 'Clockworks' begins strong in this aspect and sets the tone for what's left to come on this, their 9th album in 30 years.

'Born in Dissonance' the album's 2nd and shortest track & provides some tight palm-muted chords reaching higher octaves than most songs here and would rank among the best on this opus. It's is helped out by Throdendal's best licks here with the fretboard-wide noodlings that contain his dry, digitally stuttered notes like an orgy of R2D2s on too many little blue pills. 'Nostrum' and 'Our Rage Won't Die' also offer up more energetic and bouncy rhythms, giving pause to listeners wanting more of the old, less of the new. However the latter is very repetitive; the first half of the song continues its fast syncopation ad nauseum and then the remaining two minutes result in a dragged-out djent breakdown with these flickering guitar scrapes similar to the brief tapping exercise at beginning of 'By the Ton' yet offering no help in making the song any better. 'By the Ton', by the way, is more of the same: A six-minute disastrously djent dirge.

Haake is still the mind behind what's within and inside penning (90% of) the lyrics once more. Introverted outside perspectives on man and machine, diatribes against time. There's a few passages about breaking from the grip of modernity and flying free & he even touches on religious topics from an obfuscated distance. Vocally, I regret to inform you that you can expect nothing less than what Jens' been peddling since day one. I guess it works and as the old adage goes, if it ain't broke don't fix it. Ultimately, I'm not sure what I expected anyway...maybe something more along the lines of 'Sane' or 'Corridor of Chameleons' perhaps. His vocals this time around a not the focal point and are far from impactful.

They have had an undulating career thus far, starting off as thrash with a ton of experimentation then fell off the rails due to technology. Now they're climbing out from under the pile of circuitry in an attempt to recapture something more abrasive. If you are a devout follower of the Swedes, then by all means, continue your undying love and support. But I am left wanting more.