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Meshuggah - Catch Thirtythree CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.61 | 176 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Now you've heard this, go listen to some Prog

An illustration of how "complex riffs" do not a prog band make.

Although a lot of thought has clearly gone into the details and subtle changes, the overall effect is of a single riff used for an excessive length of time, with some simple effects and death-metal vocals.

This is not prog rock by a long stretch - or even prog metal. I would more comfortably fit it into a "Technical Metal" category, if such a category exists. The production is the clinically precise and "blinging" sound that all metal has from Metallica's Black album onwards.

So the first three tracks blur into one, with the minimalist approach to riffing. A new riff is introduced for track 4 "The Paradoxial Spiral", and you can practically hear the musicians counting aloud to get the precision and notes added or subtracted as the rule dictates, but the music ends up feeling extremely samey - one of the major pitfalls of attempting minimalism. Check out any work by Philip Glass to hear the same traps being fallen into by a "classical" composer.

The next three tracks likewise blur into one - and you can hardly accuse Meshuggah of melodic or harmonic invention. There is none - the only "melodies" are the incessant riffs shifting microscopically with perfect unison between guitar and bass. The emphasis as with so much so-called prog metal is on rhythm and production sound.

We finally get a guitar solo around 1:20, but instead of contrapuntal devices, either rhythmic or harmonic, we get noodling around the same lines as the riffs, which dissolves to a single thread.

Fortunately there is some respite with the beginning of "Minds Mirrors", but I'm not really keen on the retro-sounding vocoder, and the textures are very very simple and only serve to underline my feeling that this is not progressive at all.

"In Death - Is Life" starts the 3rd riff on this album, and intruigingly moves onto a second riff - but the treatment the riffs get is now completely predictable, and again the whole dissolves into a repetitve sounding mush, despite the little variations. This is continued into "In Death Is Death" and despite the attempts to break it into small rhythmic-central blocks, never truly moves away from the base around the E chord that maintains a monotony throughout, or if it does, simply moves to the next anchor chord around which "complex" riffs are built and added to over time.

Around 5:00, an interesting jazz-oriented interlude provides respite - alas for only 30 seconds or so, but at 7:10, some electronically processed sounds complete the track. Yep. Around 5 minutes of random and dischordant sounds which may conjure up a spooky atmosphere for you, but I would recommend early Pink Floyd, Amon Duul II or the music of Schoenberg if you like atmospheric dischordant music.

Shed is back to the death metal riffs and vocals, interspersed with a slightly more funky texture - interesting but not varied enough to be prog. This carries on for the next three tracks, until "Sum" brings us to a new and welcome texture. Sadly, it does dot develop - like any of the thematic material used on this album.

This appears to be music made by people who have heard heavy metal, liked it, wanted to do something different to impress their mates, but failed to grasp the basics of what makes a piece of music tick.

Definitely not recommended to fans of Prog Rock, but fans of "prog metal", especially at the Death Metal end may well like it. Albums like this really bring home to me the fact that Prog Rock and Prog Metal are entirely separate genres.

For fans only.

Certif1ed | 2/5 |


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