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Meshuggah - Chaosphere CD (album) cover

CHAOSPHERE

Meshuggah

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.94 | 144 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Namor
4 stars I think we can safely say that Meshuggah aren't an easy listen and Chaosphere in particular exacerbates this notion. Nevertheless, after buying ObZen last year (2008) I decided it was time to pander to my inner extreme metal demons and get "Chaosphere" and "I" perhaps their most highly regarded works.

In the most practical sense, I know nothing about music, I can't read it or play it and only have the basest understanding of time signatures and polyrhythm's, so to me any musical appreciation is completely subjective. Hence a band like Meshuggah, lauded by many for their instrumental adroitness and the complexity of their compositions, replete with time signature changes and polyrhythm's, are not easily appreciated if you just don't know the level of skill involved. I liked ObZen and loved the mechanical, yet off kilter feel to the music, but at the same time was worried I was buying in to other more informed fans superlatives.

Fact is, Meshuggah are just plain different in a very calculated way and as heavy as hell. The heartbeat of the band is Tomas Haake who also writes the most bizarre apocalyptic, post-industrial lyrics and has that rhythmic (and mental) ability to play one beat with his arms and another with his legs.

It's taken me six months to appreciate Chaosphere's aural battery, it has a degree of analytical savagery that I have absorbed remorselessly by osmosis. It is a relentless and barbarous, but now after numerous listens, its layered complexity and originality has dug beneath my skin. Meshuggah's beauty, and beauty is not the right word, allure is probably better, is in the precision and execution of their compositions - layered and intricate riffs, strangely ululating solos' and Tomas Haake's stunningly original, yet unflashy drumming.

The merciless "Concatenation" sets the standard for the rest of the album, while things slow down (very marginally and slow is definitely the wrong word) for the outrageously original "New Millennium Cyanide Christ". A bare riff drives "Corridor of Chameleons", which has a great tapping (I think) solo at about 2 minutes. The bass solo in "Neurotica" has the strangest timbre, almost like a piano, whilst the drums counterpoint the guitars in a controlled flurry. Next we have the shockingly fast "The Mouth Licking What You've Bled", which continues Meshuggah's inhuman attack and manages to have a solo faster than the riff. "Sane" is anything but, while the "The Exquisite Machinery of Torture" is much slower and the least in your face track on the album, which is rounded off by "Elastic" with a great cycling riff, although unfortunately the track descends into several minutes of pointless white noise.

If you like fast, unyielding, well executed metal you need to give Meshaggah a try, although I don't think Chaosphere should be your first port of call (many would disagree). Vocalist, Jens Kidman's gutteral barks are for many an acquired taste (how has this man still got vocal chords??), but personally I admire his incredibly well honed, percussive delivery. Mårten Hagström and Fredrik Thordendal defy superlatives for their supreme accuracy and balance, while the latter's atonal solos are a joy, although not in the same way as (the equally talented) John Petrucci, Fredrik is more textural, perhaps. Production is okay, if a little sparse, I would have liked a little more pronounced bass, although to be fair, I think it's intended to flesh out the riffs and give them a more organic bottom-end, particularly fast tracks like "The Mouth Licking What You've Bled". Bass is perfectly clear and separate in marginally slower tacks like "Corridor of Chameleons" and "Neurotica" particularly the former, where it counterpoints the machine gun riff.

By the way, the "Reloaded" version has a few bonus demo's and is oft touted as a remaster, although there's no evidence of this in the liner notes, but it says so on Nuclear Blast's web site, so I guess it must be...anyway, it doesn't sound bad by any stretch and the more I listen, the more revealing the recording becomes. I think this would be a hard sell to a non-fan (Destroy Erase Improve is probably the standard bearer), but I've often been cynical of reviews that have said "this one will grow on you", however this record genuinely has, for me anyway. If you liked "DEI", try "ObZen", if you're still happy go for "I" if you're still hanging in there, Chaosphere may still shock you, as it just doesn't let up, but if you liked the previous three, persevere, as it is well worth the effort.

Namor | 4/5 |

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