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Grinding Density - 62%

psychoticnicholai, November 19th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Nuclear Blast

Meshuggah have gone in the direction of adding more and more weight to their sounds as of late, This was represented by Koloss going for a much slower, and heavier atmospheric sound. They goes more or less in the same direction with The Violent Sleep of Reason, though this album has significantly more bounce to it than Koloss did. It seems as though Meshuggah were starting to sense that they were dragging more than usual on Koloss and decided to bring some energy back into the mix. What resulted was an album that improves on its predecessor's faults, but not by very much, and only brings a little bit to the table on terms of truly delicious songs. Meshuggah really hasn't changed all that much, but The Violent Sleep of Reason does offer something weighty and roughly in-between the sluggish sounds of Koloss, and the punchier and more aggressive ObZen.

If you've heard other Meshuggah albums, you likely already know what you're in for. This is a big, loud album full of down-tuned mechanical guitar grooves in odd time signatures with Jens Kidman's growls over them. There's a decent bounce to the music this time around with the grooves pushing more of their weight around. Though, they may be mechanical, they are also, extremely dense and chaotic with a lot of the energy on this album coming from the sheer weight of the grooves. The songs on here have more momentum than on Koloss, but not to an extreme degree. Few are particularly catchy or memorable. Some songs like "Monstrocity" and "Our Rage Won't Die" kick things off with a real punch from the get-go and stand out as the best pieces on here. The reason they do so is because they get to the point, and give us their best riffs up-front. Other songs like "Nostrum" are punishing ragers, but take a long time to really get started up. Buildup is fine, but a lot of it is just simple guitar grooves with the heavy tuning providing tension. Meshuggah had a lot of decent ideas for grooves on this album, but a lot of these ideas are spread out too much, and many songs tend to sit on a riff with rigid momentum, not to the same extent as Koloss, but definitely about as much as Nothing. This album is thick and weighty, but could really be bothered to pick things up, be more dynamic, and take less of it's sweet time building up and actually get to crushing.

As far as how I feel about this album, I'm of a pretty middling attitude. Meshuggah delivers more of their signature sound, but only goes so far as to make something that's just okay. It's crushing, brutish, and super-dense, but it's also just okay as far as the songs and riffs actually go. It's another bare-bones album, the musical bones are thicker this time around, but they are still laid bare. There's just not enough to enthrall someone when all you have to offer is thick walls of dense guitars where only a few of your riffs really have that "oomph" needed to hook you in. There just isn't enough variety in the grooves to fill up the 6 and 7-minute song lengths and make them totally worth it. The songs tend to feel like big, thick bricks of sound and only rely on their weight to keep the momentum going. If you are looking for pure heaviness, and pure heaviness only, this is an album that will work for you. For the rest of us, there's some decent grooves and a lot of really punishing and chaotic atmosphere, but there's also a lot of weight that's not being pushed as hard as it could. In order to have impact, you have to give that weight some momentum, and there is only a bit here.

As far as Meshuggah albums go, this one doesn't stick out to me as much as the others. It feels a lot like Nothing, but with a bit more added weight. I'm thankful it isn't as plodding as Koloss, and there are some positively destructive songs on here. However, a lot of this album feels like its just they're just re-treading ground they've already covered and aren't really pushing themselves anymore. Am I asking that they go make a fucking rock opera? Hell no. But I would like some more catchy, breakneck songs, with the weight, impact, and groovy punch that made Meshuggah so great. As an album, this is a satisfactory if underwhelming venture. I do give them some props for bringing the bounce back, I just want them to do more with it, maybe make their songs a little less monotone too. There are some good ideas on here, just pack them tighter, and give them more force to improve. This is fine, but Meshuggah should really come with more mania next time.