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MESHUGGAH

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Sweden


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Meshuggah biography
MESHUGGAH are a swedish heavy metal band who formed in the late 80's. They have had a few line-up changes over the years but their current line-up consists of Mårten Hagström, Fredrik Thordendal, Jens Kidman and Tomas Haake.

MESHUGGAH stand out from other heavy metal bands by having quite unique complexities that make their riffs and styles extra interesting. Blending styles of thrash in their early works, they have gone on to write more complex and challenging pieces album by album, taking a much more progressive feel to their music album by album. MESHUGGAH are famous for their strong use of unusual time signatures, often relating to jazz complexities. This makes their thundering riffs take a much more challenging and progressive form.

MESHUGGAH are quite unlike any other metal bands on this forum and are certainly an interesting pick of the prog metal genre. Sometimes described as "Math Metal", MESHUGGAH will go down well with fans of heavier DREAM THEATER tracks and other bands like TOOL for their unique complexities. MESHUGGAH's highest rated albums are "Destroy Erase Improve" and "Catch 33". One of their proggiest works is the 21 minute epic, "I" which is on a separate EP and is definetly worth checking out as it is a brilliant example of their odd shifts in time signatures and shows off their complex structures really well.

: : : Frenchie, ENGLAND : : :

See also:
-Thordendal's (Fredrik) Special Defects

Meshuggah official website

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The Violent Sleep of ReasonThe Violent Sleep of Reason
Nuclear Blast America 2016
Audio CD$7.40
$7.46 (used)
obZenobZen
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$7.35
$4.01 (used)
I (Special Edition)I (Special Edition)
Nuclear Blast America 2014
Audio CD$6.00
$6.95 (used)
KolossKoloss
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$6.64
$7.98 (used)
Catch Thirty Three (Slipcase)Catch Thirty Three (Slipcase)
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$6.29
$3.48 (used)
Nothing limited digi re-issueNothing limited digi re-issue
Limited Edition
Nuclear Blast America 2013
Audio CD$9.98
$9.97 (used)
Contradictions Collapse (RELOADED)Contradictions Collapse (RELOADED)
Remastered
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$6.49
$4.91 (used)
Chaosphere (RELOADED)Chaosphere (RELOADED)
Extra tracks · Remastered
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$7.43
$7.99 (used)
Nothing (CD+DVD Reissue)Nothing (CD+DVD Reissue)
Remastered
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$17.32
$15.40 (used)
Destroy Erase Improve (RELOADED)Destroy Erase Improve (RELOADED)
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$6.59
$11.51 (used)
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Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects - Sol Niger Within (UAE Sealed) Meshuggah USD $49.96 Buy It Now
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Catch Thirty-Three - Meshuggah (2005, CD New) USD $10.83 Buy It Now 3 days
Catch Thirty-Three by Meshuggah (CD, May-2005, Nuclear Blast (USA)) USD $19.04 Buy It Now 3 days
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Destroy Erase Improve by Meshuggah (CD, May-1995, Nuclear Blast) USD $5.97 Buy It Now 4 days
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MESHUGGAH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MESHUGGAH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 58 ratings
Contradictions Collapse
1991
3.81 | 141 ratings
Destroy Erase Improve
1995
3.96 | 167 ratings
Chaosphere
1998
3.59 | 127 ratings
Nothing
2002
3.61 | 166 ratings
Catch Thirtythree
2005
3.82 | 100 ratings
Nothing (New version)
2006
3.65 | 204 ratings
ObZen
2008
3.62 | 96 ratings
Koloss
2012
4.02 | 46 ratings
The Violent Sleep Of Reason
2016

MESHUGGAH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Ophidian Trek
2014

MESHUGGAH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.28 | 28 ratings
Alive
2010

MESHUGGAH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.34 | 12 ratings
Contradictions Collapse & None
1998
2.50 | 10 ratings
Rare Trax
2001

MESHUGGAH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.11 | 7 ratings
Psykisk Testbild
1989
5.00 | 2 ratings
Ejaculation of Salvation (Demo)
1989
5.00 | 2 ratings
Promo Tape
1991
3.67 | 21 ratings
None
1994
2.79 | 5 ratings
Selfcaged
1995
2.18 | 3 ratings
Selfcaged (USA version)
1995
3.50 | 2 ratings
Hypocrisy/Meshuggah (Split)
1996
2.42 | 11 ratings
The True Human Design
1997
4.16 | 113 ratings
I
2004
3.17 | 4 ratings
Pitch Black
2013

MESHUGGAH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Catch Thirtythree by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.61 | 166 ratings

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Catch Thirtythree
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Tapfret
Prog Reviewer

4 stars From the "wall of sound" section of my collection comes Swedish metal kingpins, Meshuggah, with their fifth full length LP-CD and first attempt at a concept album, Catch-33. The term "wall of sound" is used so that anyone reading this that is susceptible to ultra-distorted discordant guitars, maximum yell vocals (I am at the edge of my own tolerance), and obtuse, disorienting polymetric rhythms should turn around and walk away. If those elements are your cup of tea, or at least tolerable to dig deeper into a musical challenge, then let us proceed.

Released approximately 3 years after the less than enjoyable LP Nothing, the shift in album structure to a continuous piece on Catch-33 was prefaced a year earlier with the EP I, not only in its compositional presentation, but also in its lyrical theme. I may be completely off base as the lyrics contain enough metaphoric ambiguity, and there is a significant amount of interpretative discussion to be found on the internet about Catch- 33, that the concept of I appear to be expanding on the concept of self, inner struggles/paradoxes and pitfalls of defining self in reflection of others. To a lesser extent, one might even look at Catch-33 as a microcosmic extension of the concepts used in guitarist Fredrik Thordendal's Sol Niger Within. The ideas expressed in these thick metaphors are abundant with images of self being the primary perpetrator of psychological torture, even in the chemically stable mind. The summation of ideas seems to be presented early on in the album in one of its most recognizable lines, "The struggle to free myself from restraint, becomes my very shackles". Many of these ideas are expressed in the basic ubiquitous teachings of Zen philosophy and the core tenets of Buddhism. From a delivery standpoint, it is understandable that many may feel the ideas and depth of concept are lost in the profoundly distorted and incomprehensible screaming vocals of Jens Kidman. But in the case of Catch-33, there is a dichotomy in that loss of understanding by the listener is the representation of what is conveyed by that soft inner voice that speaks in paradoxes and generates the internal torment of confusion and loss of self.

Instrumentally the band uses 8-string guitars for an extremely thick bottom end. The processing of the guitar sound is peculiar in that even during the most distorted sections the lowest guitar sound less like the distortion of amplification overdrive and more like two metal pieces (wire/fret) vibrating against each other. This creates unconventional accents in the rhythmic patterns that are mimicced frequently today, but were very unique at the time of this release. Thordendal's typical Holdsworthian soloing style is used primarily as a texturing tool throughout the album. A particularly unusual aspect of this album is that Tomas Haake's drum tracks are actually programmed rather than recorded. Haake explains that this occured in the writing process, the programming was used for laying down the guitar tracks and the band as a whole decided the samples "sounded really good" and just went with it. Interestingly, they did perform some of the Catch-33 material live with Haake playing.

Catch-33 is separated into tracks for indexing purposes, but is presented as a single composition with different movements that seem irrespective of the track assignments. The composition displays a great deal more dynamic contrast than previous work. And while the use of "quiet" parts are nothing new to a Meshuggah album, they are never quite as extended as they are delivered on Catch-33. Nor are they ever delivered with as much of an avant-garde musical approach. Previous songs like Unanything, Acrid Placidity had a more generic "this is the mellow song on the metal album" feel to them. Even later, The Last Vigil, approached the use of undistorted strings in a similar vein, but did not come close in the complexity of musical idea. The sections of particular note I am speaking of are at the end of the tracks In Death...Is Death and Sum. There are a couple shorter undistorted sections, but these are the two longest. Each has intertwining guitar patterns and both contain some of the eeriest, most sinister sounding passages in the body of Meshuggah's work. I should hope that Thordendal and Mårten Hagström will employ more of this approach or even explore a separate project in the future. There is something truly majestic about that style. And even the percussive portions of the music display a depth of musical understanding that exceeds that of bands considered in the same paradigm. From the rhythmic structures that use multiple time signatures simultaneously, to use of jazzy dodecaphonics (12-tone), Meshuggah was, and continue to be unbound by expectation.

When taking into account Meshuggah's body of work I find Catch-33 at the forefront of my appreciation for its unconventionality, diversity, and thoughtfulness. It is held from the regard of masterpiece outside of the metal world simply by the vocals. And as I stated previously, there is a fundamental value to that style in the story. But it will be the thing that holds it down from the 5 star criteria set forth by progarchives.com. But I believe that the listener who is up for a challenge will find a very deep and rewarding experience in the intricacies and complex build of this mammoth construction. 4 stars.

 Contradictions Collapse by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.15 | 58 ratings

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Contradictions Collapse
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Before I decided to review this, I opted on reading some already existing reviews to get some inspiration. With that in mind, Jjlehto's review translates perfectly what I see in this album, and I won't repeat what has already been pronounced. Instead, I'll recommend you to read his review and give my input on why CONTRADICTIONS COLLAPSE is a masterpiece, but not for progressive metal, as well on some details about the conceptuality.

LET'S START.

Well, first things first: this isn't a Swedish band merely influenced by METALLICA's MASTER OF PUPPETS or ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, this is a blatant copygone right. You can literally hear JAMES HETFIELD on the first track, PARALYZING IGNORANCE. But the difference is that where LARS suck as a drummer, HAAKE nails it.

As an authentic fan of thrash metal, I attest this groundbreaking this is for the genre. It was released in the same year thrash gained mainstream fame with METALLICA's BLACK ALBUM and MEGADETH's COUNTDOWN TO DESTRUCTION, but at the same time, lost its beautiful characteristic that made it so great while underground: aggressivity and an anti-mainstream sentiment. And while the big guys of the genre, by the 90's, started to lack those characteristics, MESHUGGAH comes up and BAM! you get this crushing release. MESHUGGAH came with a very clear message: we are a true thrash band.

Now that's progress to talk about the musicianship. Boy, technicality is beyond absurd, and it sounds delightfully unique for the thrash ears. The way everything's so odd and even and changing and shifting and quick and slow and groovy and heavy and then the snares and beats get confusing... it's innovative in the thrash scene, to say the least. The talent of those guys, in special the drummer and the guitarist, is something to praise a LOT about.

Lastly, as I've made myself clear (more often than needed, I suppose), this is would be for ThrashArchives.org what Pawn Hearts is for ProgArchives. Creative, refreshing, highly-rated, heavily rated. But sadly we're not at ThrashArchives. And bearing in mind this is a PROGRESSIVE focused forum, we can't really attest much progressiveness here. It's more of a "thrash with some progressive elements" than "progressive with thrash core". You can't get a distinctively prog feeling here from aside the polyrhythms and changing time signatures and insane breakdowns. I think that the fairest rating for this would be something around "3.6/5". I... might even quote Jjlehto (he's kind of becoming my hero on this Meshuggah business): "Overall, a great album! Obviously the regular progger should stay away from this. [...] fans of prog-metal this is a good work! It is still very thrashy so it depends on how metal your taste is".

Quality-wise, 9/10. Progressively-wise (what really matters here, folks), 7/10.

(1-2-3: 1 star/4-5: 2 star/6-7: 3 star/8: 4 star/9-10: 5 star)

 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 46 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars "The Violent Sleep of Reason" is the 9th full-length studio album by Swedish technical extreme metal act Meshuggah. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in October 2016. It´s the successor to "Koloss" from 2012 and features the same lineup as the predecessor. "The Violent Sleep of Reason" is a self- produced effort. Engineering was done by prolific Danish producer/engineer Tue Madsen at Puk Studios in Denmark. The album was recorded live in the studio, with all members playing simultaneously. So it´s basically a "live in the studio" recording, but you probably wouldn´t be able to hear it if you didn´t know it. Meshuggah are one tight playing unit. A well oiled machine. And even when they do something like this, everything is still delivered with militant precision.

Stylistically "The Violent Sleep of Reason" features very few surprises if you´re already familiar with the last couple of releases by Meshuggah. Crushingly heavy downtuned angular played guitars/bass riffs, the odd fusion jazz styled guitar solo/theme, technical drumming, crazy time signatures, and Jens Kidman´s raw aggressive vocals in front. It´s safe to say they don´t step out of their comfort zone much on this album, but the quality of the material is as usual incredibly high and the band´s sound is as unique as ever. I understand if some people feel Meshuggah have stagnated and that their style has become a one-dimensional and predictable size, because in some ways that´s true, but if you listen a bit more closely to what the band have to offer, you´ll notice that they still make little tweaks to their core sound. It´s nothing that changes their overall musical style, but there is enough development to keep the listener on his/her toes and ensure that "The Violent Sleep of Reason" stands out as an individual entity in the band´s discography.

The material on the 10 track, 58:55 minutes long album is as mentioned above of a very high quality. The tracks are written in an incredibly clever way and the technical details featured on the tracks are quite stunning. That´s not unusual for Meshuggah though, and it wouldn´t be enough if the tracks weren´t powerful and memorable too. That´s fortunately the case here though, and while there are a couple of tracks which don´t stand out as much as the best tracks on the album, every track is still of a high quality. Highlight include "Born in Dissonance", "MonstroCity", and "Nostrum", but "Violent Sleep of Reason" (which features some very intriguing lead guitar melodies/themes) and the crushingly heavy and therefore aptly titled "By the Ton" also deserve a mention.

"The Violent Sleep of Reason" features a powerful, raw, and detailed sound production, and despite how it was recorded, the album features the cold, clinical, and dark atmosphere, which suits Meshuggah´s music so well. It´s still organic to a degree though, and it´s certainly not a polished and lifeless sounding production.

So they´ve done it again...created another masterful release, which defies catagorization and which just sounds unmistakably like Meshuggah. The fans will probably praise this one as they´ve praised the band´s previous efforts, while the critics will say the same as they always do. This is not an album that´ll change that. Meshuggah´s music is still as demanding and inaccessible as it´s been from day one, and "The Violent Sleep of Reason" requires as much attention from the listener as every preceding release by the band before it. But once you lock into that crushingly heavy odd-metered hypnotic groove it´ll never let go. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 46 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars Chugga chugga djent djent, it's the MESHUGGAH train coming back to town and after four long years following their most accessible album of all they return in full fury with their complex tech monster bashing mix of aggressiveness unlike any other. THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON (the 8th full length studio album) is chock full of all the famous time sig torture and mangled mutiny of sonic suffering. The title indicates somewhat of a loose theme that is based on Francisco Goya's painting "The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters" and it can be confirmed on this pummeling yet powerful 59 minute expression of brutality that they surely enter those territories and they are the kind that stimulate the senses in TOTALLY inappropriate ways. I love it!

MESHUGGAH wastes no time churning out the technical aggressiveness they've been conjuring up for a good twenty years and if you are familiar at all with the band's output then THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON will not sound out of step in any way with their unique take on mutilated thrash metal that has since been designated with the nauseating term "djent" which i rather despise myself. I consider it a guitar style of playing NOT a true genre per se but i digress and nomenclature aside it is the delivery of incessant progressive and aggressive dissonance accompanied by the saturnine atmospheric tone of the brutality liturgy that really delivers a top notch edition of the MESHUGGAH world of chaotic noise and overtly angry sonicity.

THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON was a blatant attempt to get out of the nitpicking neediness of the production that the band found themselves becoming slaves to and as a result this album was recorded totally live in the studio. That means all parts were recorded simultaneously by all members instead of each track separately. This does indeed give a more organic feel and yet the production is totally modern, crisp and clean and allows every little ear shattering decibelage to assault the senses. The spontaneity of what the band sounds like playing together does chime through as the album feels much like a retro 90s MESHUGGAH album i have to admit.

All in all this is a fine and dandy album that delivers all the MESHUGGAH goods and then some. The technical riff abuse is in full attack as Frederik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström are partners in crime on the dual guitar assaults and Dick Lövgren on bass and Tomas Haake on drums absolutely nail the avant-groove antics without hesitation. Jens Kidman delivers the best of his angry anti-relgious and dark cynical lyrics and vocal styles as to be expected. THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON is a fine addition to the MESHUGGAH canon but personally i can't say i like this better than the cream of the crop such as their "Chaosphere" to "Nothing" remake period.

True that they keep their sound together in tact and offer an excellent slice of their homemade musical universe but at the same time they don't really offer anything new to it and with music this brutal and complex it's nice to have some variation involved such as acoustic and ambient passages that were prevalent on their earlier albums (yes there is some but not until track seven "Stifled.") So overall this will not go down as my favorite MESHUGGAH album of all time but nevertheless a very worthy avant-garde progressive thrashy groove metal album for those who have drenched themselves in the chaotic avant-garde jazz fusion techniques of dissonant metal that they churn out so well. It should go without saying that MESHUGGAH is very much an acquired taste and nothing on THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON will attract new followers. If you didn't like them before, you won't like them now but if you have swallowed this Kool-aid then you can happily expect more of the same.

 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.02 | 46 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Socrathustra

5 stars I am pleasantly surprised. The two tracks released as lyric videos ahead of the album release -- Born in Dissonance and Nostrum -- were good, but they didn't stand out. Listening to the full album, however, I'm happy to report that this is one of my favorites among their albums. It has their signature bajillion-string guitar sound with an energy they haven't matched since Chaosphere. Recorded live rather than track by track, Violent Sleep feels like the musicians actually enjoyed what they were doing, and the overall quality goes way up.

Overall, my highest compliment has to go to the fact that each song feels like it PROGRESSES. As much as I like their old material, I often feel like they sit on a single riff and do slight variations on it for four to five minutes. Here, there is variation. There is contrast of the sort that, on prior albums, you would really only get by hitting the "next track" button. This pays off in spades. For other bands this might be called something akin to "normal song structure," but playing at Meshuggah's level of skill is somewhat prohibitive to having such dramatic change-ups. So where a prior Meshuggah song might go from A to A' to A'' (such as Bleed), Violent Sleep has A, B, C, etc. in a single track. I have to respect the technical skill involved in learning multiple distinct and complex patterns for a single song.

There are only two real complaints I have against the album. First, some lyrics in MonstroCity are a little cringe- worthy. That should be apparent from the title. Meshuggah has never taken themselves as seriously as one might think they do, but... come on. Thankfully the instruments are actually really good on this track, and the lyrics grow on you in spite of themselves.

Second, Ivory Tower is a boring song. It isn't until about the 3:30 mark that we get any reprieve from the unrelenting triplet bass drum. It lacks that quality of progression that I praised about the rest of the album. Maybe it's just me, but I can't stop listening to the bass drum do the same thing over and over again. This might be fine if the thing it did was interesting, but it's just slow triplet eighth notes for five minutes.

Without getting into a track-by-track, here are the highlights:

Clockworks offers a relentless opener and a high bar for the rest of album. Haake shows off his jazz influences a bit more directly here, throwing in a bit of extra hand-work that doesn't necessarily come at the end of an eight bar phrase. It's a nice change of pace from how his drumming always seems so mathematical. It's still very much that, but he allows himself more freedom. He doesn't just carry on a 1-2-3!-4 between the high hat and snare like he does on so many songs. This generally carries through the rest of the album.

By the Ton is bizarre in a good way. They experiment with chord progression pretty liberally here. I think this is the song they called "a true twelve-tone song" in an interview, meaning there's no real key signature going on here. They use everything. There's also a distinct old-fashioned sound to the guitar. It's similar to their usual djent sound, but you can tell it's running through some kind of weird amp. It's hard to describe... you'll probably have to hear it for yourself.

The title track has some nice Shed-like psychedelic noises going for it, and the solo mid-song stands out from their traditional 56k modem logging into AOL solos by being... weirder? Again, I'm not sure how to describe it.

Nostrum has some fan-freaking-tastic drum work accompanied by minimalist guitars. It's like a better Spasm.

Kidman's voice also explores some new sounds throughout to great effect. It is more raw and unrestrained than the usual monotone.

The other songs besides Ivory Tower are at least very good. Ivory Tower itself is not terrible, just exceedingly mediocre among what is in my opinion their strongest work since Chaosphere.

My recommendation: if you like this style of music -- that is, extreme metal -- this is one of the best offerings I've heard in a long time. This is some Grade A material.

 Contradictions Collapse by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.15 | 58 ratings

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Contradictions Collapse
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse

"Contradictions Collapse" is the debut studio album by technical thrash/extreme metal band Meshuggah. Meshuggah is probably best known for their odd time changes, skull-crushing riffs, meandering grooves, and aggressive vocals. However, that wouldn't really develop much until "Chaosphere". While much different from later releases, Meshuggah's debut still shows technical complexity and is an underrated album in Meshuggah's discography.

This album is much more thrash-based then later albums, which focus more on groove. This is what I'd call technical thrash somewhat in the vein of Metallica's "...And Justice for All" album with some groove here and there. You still have crushing riffing, but in a thrashing way. The opening song 'Paralyzing Ignorance' is one of my favorites, and is a great opener as it gives a good idea for the sound of the album. It's got some great riot chant vocals, fantastic riffs that I find it hard not to headbang to, pounding drums, and some nice basslines too. Speaking of bass, the bass is very audible in this album, just listen to the song 'Erronerous Manipulation' and you'll probably hear how strong the bass sound is. In the aforementioned song, it's not just the bass that's strong, there is some really catchy guitar. Most of the songs change up quite a bit, but it all sounds really natural. One minute you'll have a jazzy guitar solo, and then the next will be a slow passage or a crushing riff. 'Greed' is another favorite, starting up with a march-like beat. Of course, like most of the songs though it changes up soon enough with grooving riffs and noisy soloing. This is a little thing, but it has whispering of 'The cause of greed', similar to Metallica's 'Damage Inc.'. I don't know why, but I always love little things like that.

Unlike later albums, Jens Kidman's vocals actually kind of sound like a rawer and more aggressive James Hetfield, and that perfectly fits in with the sound of the album. Besides the similarities with "...And Justice for All", there are also parts that remind me of "Killing Technology" and "Dimension Hatross"-era Voivod. Kidman sometimes has a punk vocal delivery, and the beginning riffs of 'Abnegating Cecity' remind me of some of the guitar work on those albums. There are also some upbeat jump-y riffs and grooves throughout the album reminding me of Pantera, albeit with off-kilter drum rhythms. This is especially heard in the song 'Qualms of Reality' before it goes into a slower passage with nice acoustics.

Overall, this is one killer debut album. If you want some ass-kicking tech thrash, or if you couldn't get into later Meshuggah, then this is most certainly for you. I love most of Meshuggah's discography, but this definitely stands out in this consistently great band's output. There may be a bit too much going on for some, but I still highly recommend this album to any fans of tech thrash.

(Originally written for www.metalmusicarchives.com)

 Catch Thirtythree by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.61 | 166 ratings

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Catch Thirtythree
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by martindavey87

1 stars I came across this album in a music shop for £3 and decided to check it out. I'd heard a lot about Meshuggah and what people were calling their "math metal" (which I suppose has today been replaced with the term 'djent'), and was intrigued. However, to be honest this is probably one of the worst albums I own.

Being a thrash metal fan during my teenage years, I thought I'd be able to tolerate the shouting vocals, which was originally my biggest concern, though it really doesn't matter. The album as a whole just doesn't work for me. The music all seems dull and boring, incredibly repetitive, and the constant guitar riffs playing over drums in different time signatures (I believe this is known as a 'polyrhythm'), may seem impressive musical capability, but ultimately lacks any actual musicality, providing nothing more than material for music theory enthusiasts to analyze.

Obviously there is a market for this kind of music, because Meshuggah seem to have garnered a pretty big, incredibly passionate fanbase. And whilst I'd normally be open to giving certain bands multiple chances, Meshuggah is a band I certainly won't be trying out again.

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 ObZen by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.65 | 204 ratings

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ObZen
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Keep in mind that my rating is actually 1.5 stars for this one.

If there's anything a band like Meshuggah's especially known for, it's how consistent they've been with their sound over the years. Much of their work has used their second effort Destroy Erase Improve as the general template, subtly evolving in different ways with each passing record. Unfortunately, one negative aspect of such a strategy is the band's tendency of sounding a touch too repetitive and sometimes resting on their laurels. Their 2005 album Catch Thirtythree, while boasting hints of jazz fusion, was a good example of the group's sound starting to become somewhat stale. So what did the Swedish metal legends unleash with 2009's Obzen? Absolute trash.

Meshuggah have always been a highly regarded group in terms of the instrumentalists' talents, but that does have the occasion of backfiring on a band; unfortunately, that is exactly the case with Obzen. Everything sounds too calculated, too artificial, too cold. While this style is present in other genres/bands (obviously technical death metal is generally infamous for such an approach), almost all of Obzen sounds as if it wasn't recorded by a band, but rather an assembly line of musical parts. The semblance of passion and general energy of previous records is replaced by robotic, by-the-numbers extreme metal that's almost completely devoid of any surprises or stand-out moments (or stand-out tracks, for that matter).

Fortunately, the shining light leading the darkness is the opening number "Combustion." The track is reminiscent of older Meshuggah records such as Contradictions Collapse or the aforementioned Destroy Erase Improve, opting for an extremely thrash-esque method of starting the album. Jens Kidman's voice sounds as angry as ever, and the musicians play with an exceptionally commanding presence. The solo is also a nice aspect, highlighting Frederik Thordendal's agility while also showcasing a nice sense of variety in his playing. Unfortunately though, the song only lasts four minutes. The album that follows is an overly homogeneous trainwreck that is only saved by a few choice moments.

While the band members do nothing particularly offensive to get such a low rating, my biggest criticism comes right down to the songwriting itself. Much of the album appears to be on autopilot, right down to the riffs that these songs revolve around. Let's take the title track, for example; while the doomy nature of the opening A- tuned riff is promising, the first "verse" section is completely uninteresting and leaves a lot to be desired. Jens' vocals sound too aggressive for what's being played, and lack of any embellishments to add to the precise riff make the portion sound unfinished and even unneeded. Moments like these are littered about the album, perhaps reaching a peak with the biggest travesty on the album, "Bleed." "Bleed," considered by many to be one of Meshuggah's greatest songs in their most recent work, leaves me completely baffled about why it is so revered. While repetition can be done extremely well in music (see: Opeth, Earth, Lightning Bolt, etc.), "Bleed" preys on one's boredom much more quickly. The main motif is very bland and leaves little to the imagination, and while Thomas Haake's drumming is usually a highlight in the band's music, it's tough to get invested in his drumming on this one. Even when the song speeds up, everything sounds just as mechanical as it did before. The polyrhythms in the song aren't particularly interesting, especially when the band pounds them into your head 50,000 times, and the solo happens to be one of the tune's only saving graces. On top of all this, the song is over seven minutes long... again, not a very wise investment in the long run.

Considering so much of the review was spent on just a few songs and the vast majority of the album contains the same style, you can imagine I have an absolute trove of problems with this record. Judging by the 1.5, this is definitely true, but I must mention that I didn't want to hate this album. You may not take issue with what criticisms I brought up, and if not, more power to you; the album certainly managed to strike a chord with a large amount of metal fans. I, for one, find it to be a pretty atrocious and dispassionate piece of blandness. Despite the band members' talents, the record they made is an exercise in pure frustration and unnecessary repetition.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

 I by MESHUGGAH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
4.16 | 113 ratings

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I
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Now, me being a fan of virtually every sub-genre of Prog, even all things regarding Iron Maiden, Henry Cow, Zao, Spring, Fantasy, Univers Zero etc.... Tool, even Mastodon....... I expected something 'special' from this offering. I came across this vinyl release whilst on holiday, courtesy of Euclid Records, Nawlins, - complete 21min. version of this meisterwerk, with 2 live tracks and a studio recording tacked onto the 2nd side of this 12" platter. I am NOT a fan of the 'death growl' style of vocals - I do, however, realise, that there is a bucket-load of talent and control to achieve this 'death growl' vocal. And I can't see someone like Jon Anderson spewing out lyrics convincingly enough to suit this incredibly abrasive music. Within a few seconds of the side-long piece, 'I', I listen carefully ; I'm convinced my limbs would fall off within the 17th bar......... These guys from Sweden need to be aware they need some O2 cylinders in tow wherever they go. This is technically proficient metal, with respect to some of the 70's giants. I really get into this music, but I do find these death-growl vocals somewhat immature. Take my analysis with a grain of sand, but I don't dig it, but I do return to this album, enjoy every minute of it. The sound is crisp, tight and clean by today's standards - really a notch beyond 'mainstream' dark-metal acts, and I can say that upon the first few plays of this album I did think that this is not the styling that is 'me'. Well, doesn't matter ; I honestly enjoy this music : The ambitious 21 min. 'I' track, begins with a harsh barrage of palm-muted guitar chunking in 7/8 time, cacophonous and noisy, breaking into the vocal part that is jagged, yet flows effortlessly blow-by-blow, until a dead-stop offers some strange singular guitar notes, springing up and down, as if being de-tuned, then BANG ! - complex rhythm that recalls Genesis' Apocalypse In 9/8 section, but heavier, more tech-oriented, and the band continue. Simply put : very impressive,. Moving on, the live tracks, recorded during the Ophidian Trek tour 2012-2013, titled 'Bleed' (7:20), and 'Dancers To A Discordant System' (9:51), show that these guys know their material inside-out, have the intelligence and stamina to pull this music off. It's tough, heavy, dark and ferocious......... I don't claim to be a specialist in this style of music, but it does tick most of the boxes for my ears. There is a 3rd track called Pitch Black, at 6 mins long, and features robotic vocals (better than the growl for me), and a repetitious riff, heavy on bass, that reminds me of something the Zeuhl bands indulge in. Oh how I wish this was instrumental. No doubt, EXCELLENT in most ways.

 Koloss by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.62 | 96 ratings

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Koloss
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars By the time they came to record Koloss, Meshuggah's distinctive "Djent" sound was no longer their unique quirk but the hallmark of a whole subgenre of progressive metal, many of whose proponents such as Animals as Leaders I find more interesting than Meshuggah's early works. Happily, Koloss finds Meshuggah stepping up their game accordingly, tightening up their compositions and working on balancing their technical capabilities with producing music which actually connects with the listener on an emotional level. The end result is an album I at first found more enjoyable and interesting to listen to than early Meshuggah works like Destroy.Erase.Improve, and momentarily rekindled my interest in the band. That said, the work still feels a bit calculated, with generic death metal patching over the holes left in their sound by scaling back the Djent.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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