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Meshuggah - I CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.16 | 119 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars MINOR UPDATES 05/08/07

I spent a lot of money on i-tunes recently, stocking up on RIO/Avant-prog and Krautrock when, on a whim, I decided that I ought to try Meshuggah. I'm not exactly sure why, as I was almost certain that I wouldn't like it. Reviews I read warned me to stay away unless I was an extreme metal fan (which I am definitely not), but by then, I was determined to try them. I figured that buying the cheaper I EP (rather than a studio album) would serve as as good an introduction as any (and, of course, it would cost less than a studio album). And with that, I spent six dollars on a single song that I was sure I wouldn't like. I'm still not sure why I did it, but I am glad I did.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this is my favorite prog metal song (not counting the more avant-garde Sleepytime Gorilla Museum). I have tried Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Ayreon, and Riverside (who each own one of the top four prog metal albums on this site). Not one of them has truly done it for me. Given this, Meshuggah should've turned me off from the outset. I shouldn't have been able to sit through even the first three minutes of the song. But, for inexplicable reasons, something about this song really caught my interest. Perhaps it is the incredible complexity of the music that is simply lacking in the four prog metal bands I tried first. The time signatures are simply beyond belief, and the drummer handles them like they're all 4/4. Given my recent interest in Krautrock, which relies heavily on drums, the amazing drumming of this album is what really made me enjoy it. The truth is, I just don't know. Something about it, however, captivates me and leaves me in awe of what they have to offer.

As other reviewers have pointed out, this is soulless music. Now, this is not to be confused with bands like the Flower Kings and Spock's Beard, who are soulless in that they butcher good music without a moment's thought, cloning the masters without putting any of their own spirit in it. Meshuggah, on the other hand, gives out only what is entirely their own, and they simply don't put a large emphasis on putting soul into it. This isn't a bad thing, it's just the way they play and write music. They truly live up to their name, which is Yiddish for craziness. They thrive in chaos, but chaos of the most ordered and perfected sort, right down to the very last detail. Every moment of "chaos" is carefully planned and executed to create the maximum effect, and it works.

I won't go into agonizing detail about what happens in the song itself, but I will give some details. This album consists mainly of extremely heavy metal music (not surprising), but with the odd softer section thrown in to allow the listener to breath. I don't know metal well, so I'm going to trust frenchie (another prog reviewer) when he says that it combines thrash metal and sludgier metal. Whatever type of metal it is, it is good, and that's all that matters. The vocals are monotonous, stuck in a state somewhere between growling and talking. The lyrics are hard to analyze, even with them right in front of you, and I don't really have a clue what they're about. Something gory and gruesome was all I could gather from them. This is the antithesis of post-rock, and let me explain why: post-rock's greatest strength is the ability to make the listener feel strong emotions. This song, one the other hand, is perfect at stripping away all ability to feel anything at all.

This isn't a song you can play over and over again. I can't see myself listening to it more than once every couple of months, simply because of how heavy it is. It was great for one listen, but that's really all. Still, if you are a big fan of prog metal, I'd definitely recommend it. For all else, pass. Author's Note: I have recently discovered that I am in fact able to listen to this album more regularly than I could before, and so I am upping my rating back up to the three and a half stars it deserves. As other reviewers have noted, it's not for everyone, but then again, what is? Highly recommended for the adventurous listeners. Just be prepared to hate it (and schedule a doctor's visit for your ears, which will be bleeding within three minutes if you choose to listen to it on headphones).

Pnoom! | 4/5 |


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