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Album of the year - 100%

Writhingchaos, November 14th, 2016

Finally the damn wait is over! Now with the Swedes latest album, a lot of people were wondering whether this album would be a new direction for the band or a progression from Koloss and all the jazz so let me just reiterate - this is fucking Meshuggah you're talking about folks. They've had a unique and pioneering sound from day one spanning countless imitators over the years, not to mention giving birth to pretty much a brand new sub genre of metal (read - djent). They don't need to pander to any expectations whatsoever as the band since its inception has been all about defying expectations, not meeting them in any way, shape or form. All the fans of the band will know what I'm talking about. So if you're only looking for a band that comfortably meets your expectations without surprising you in any major way every time a new release of theirs pops up, you'll probably be better off with a band like Cannibal Corpse or Vader and the like. Also please don't confuse meeting expectations with consistency. The previous bands have been consistent over the years while meeting the expectations of fans at the same time. Meshuggah however have been consistent while defying expectations simply because they are the pioneers of their own sound, showing the endless legions of generic djent bands mindlessly copying their sound that they should probably just pack up and go home. Yep, you have been schooled by the masters yet again.

The hellish palm-muted chugging of the opener "Clockworks" as well as the first single off the album "Born In Dissonance" (the first single of the album plus the most straightforward) should be enough to convince you that this album does hearken back to their speedier days of Chaosphere and the like, not to mention being their first live recording of an album since the None EP all the way back in 1994. Speaking of which, the intro of the last track "Into Decay" opens with a technical thrash intro going all the way back to their Contradictions Collapse days only to morph into a slower beast with quite the foot-stomping breakdown. Seriously, in pretty much every Meshuggah album there was always an element of darkness or an apocalyptic theme (obZen) but this album in all its raw unrefined glory, truly sounds like the band as a whole were having a fuckton of fun while recording it. Check out the headbangers delight "Stifled" for further proof, not to mention the mosh-inducing riff at 0:41 plus the epic outro that almost plays out like an OST to s sci-fi film. Believe me, I'm dead serious about the last part. "Our Rage Wont Die" could almost be a lost track from obZen with some of the meatiest riffs that are almost reminiscent of the pounding title track of the aforementioned album. There's a crazy level of unabashed fun and pure energy pouring out of every nook and cranny in each and every one of these songs that is hard to find or beat in the vast majority of metal releases today. Listen to any song off the album and you'll see what I'm talking about: it's not about pushing or breaking boundaries at the end of the day so much as just royally kicking some mean ass at simply nailing the one unique thing that you're so goddamn good at. And that is exactly what Meshuggah (at this point in their careers, at the very least) are all about. And let's just face it, it's not 1998 or 2002 folks: you can't pull another album like Chaosphere or Nothing and break/push the boundaries of metal music anymore. Times have changed.

The blissful groove monster "MonstroCity" with its spine-chilling solo (definitely one of Thordendal's best, hands down) and unbelievably brutal breakdown is truly a sight to behold. The end tremolo part almost reminds me of Catch 33. Strange indeed. Definitely my favourite song off the album along with the maniacal title track (think Chaosphere on steroids loaded with tons of groove). "By The Ton" and "Ivory Tower" (with some of the best riffs on the album) are the slower numbers, taking the hypnotic crawling pace of Nothing/Catch 33 and kick it up a few notches as far as technicality and intensity is concerned along with "Nostrum" which actually merges the pummeling assault of Chaosphere with the groovy technicality of Nothing to amazing effect.

For those of you yet to start listening to this groundbreaking band (why you have been depriving yourselves for so long I'll probably never know, not that I even want to) - I'd suggest you start with Koloss or obZen first in terms of sheer accessibility and then work your way up or down from there but for all the fans out there, well what the damn heck are you waiting for?? Get your hands on the album right now!! Like the title says, album of the year hands down.