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Meshuggah - Chaosphere CD (album) cover

CHAOSPHERE

Meshuggah

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.93 | 145 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars My first taste of Meshuggah happened with "Chaosphere" with its absorbing cover art and title. If one is in the mood to hear complex techno thrash, Meshuggah delivers. The downside for me are the vocals that sound like Pantera swallowed Sepultura and was spat out in bursts of gravel vomit. Needless to say the music is designed for the hard core metal addict, and there's a legion of them out there. I am no longer impressed by death metal, finding it infantile and pointless, but am willing to try bands that have original approaches and technical virtuosity. The opener 'Concatenation' is just a grinded out blaze of hate and anger and I was underwhelmed. However, the music becomes intense and gratifying on later tracks.

Very technical hypno riffing guitars with distortion to the max is found on the majority of the album. There is some interesting lead guitar work especially on 'Neurotica', a circus rhythm of squawks over an incessant grinding riff. The vocals of Jens Kidman do nothing for me personally, just lunatic growling like a maniac with rage and anger, but quite dull and monotonous with little variation or coherence, though one has to admit it's appropriate to the manic time sigs of distorted chaos. The atmosphere is dark as night and the mechanised crunches are kind of appealing. The end of 'Neurotica' is like a factory sound with metal grinding on metal by the guitar stabs of Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström.

There is a blistering metal onslaught on 'The Mouth Licking What You've Bled' and the factory sounds continue. The sound is horrendous but so compelling; this is not designed for the faint of heart or parents, that much is certain. I like the twisted lead break on this track and the pounding off sync drumming by Tomas Haake that attempts to keep up.

The mesmirising rifftastic sounds of 'Sane' maintain the frenzied guitar wrath. One has to admire the ferocity of the riffing on 'The Exquisite Machinery of Torture', and the vocals are more rapping than screaming in some places, though he could be saying woof, growl, bark, snarl for all I know; I cannot understand a word. The time sig is simply uncanny, with short stabs of knife edge crunches with a lead break melting over almost improvisationally.

The 15 minute epic 'Elastic' is definitely a highlight with quick bursts of repeated riffs in the opening section, and it builds gradually into Meshuggah mayhem. The riffs become more technical and are so precise it is staggering. The first lead break is like a violin and the second break is a repeated motif with an ethereal quality, quite chilling actually, nothing like your average guitar break, and it goes on with the same note pattern for quite some time. The guitar even sounds out of tune and then it phases into a feedback loop, with a spacey effect drone. This builds in volume to deafening proportions reminding me of the intense nauseating drones from Sunn O))). The sound reverberates like the pulse of a UFO, sending shockwaves through the skull, until it mercifully breaks into a low volume pulse. The grinding riffing guitars return finally and a ton of screeching vocals that is simply white noise and hard to take.

The brutal intensity is the drawcard for many and will take some tolerance to withstand by the uninitiated. Overall this is an interesting Meshuggah album with a lot of complex time sigs and Meshuggah's defined original approach to metal. I think they improved on subsequent albums but this is still an album that made an impact in 1998. It will not appeal to all certainly but is worth checking out just to hear the sheer ferocity of those factory sounds and distorted downtuned riffs.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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