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Meshuggah - Catch 33 CD (album) cover

CATCH 33

Meshuggah

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.55 | 153 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
3 stars Like an enormous fat round ass, Meshuggah grazes in the musical meadow oblivious to its fellow donkeys and indifferent to calls by its so-called human masters to pull fruit carts. It does its own thing, lumbering around in beastly fashion, snorting at those who draw near it. Catch 33 offers no attempt to soften up their stance and accept an oat or two from a child without biting its hand off. If anything, it's one of the band's most difficult albums musically and aesthetically. The shifts in tempo, the cold eeriness, the monstrously heavy sections, the persistent barking by the frontman, and the general lack of melody to grasp onto; riding on this donkey ain't easy.

The album is essentially one long song divided into 13 parts, in which one part ends and another begins at random moments throughout this piece. It almost seems like some sort of appeasement to their record label after their prior release which consisted of one 21 minute track named "I". The 13 individually named parts may give that feeling of a typical full length album, but it's all just a disguise for one seismic entity which shifts mechanically at random moments of its own design and sense of order.

Musically this whole thing is an exercise in rhythm, consistently utilizing the lower notes of eight string guitars and bass playing odd repetitive riffs over polyrhythmic and downright difficult percussion. The sound is thick and bludgeonly powerful at times, although there are also some reasonably long passages of quiet ambience that ease the ears but add to the overall tension of the piece. Lyrics are usually delivered by an enraged shout that's utterly hoarse but still retains humanity, along with some robotic vocals and whispering at key points. As one monolithic work, this thing can get tiresome with its unbridled constant chugging and yet there are times I listen in wonder as to how the hell are they doing this incredible stuff.

The fact that a drum machine is used instead of their stellar human timekeeper is unfortunate. I understand that the percussion here was composed with loops of Haake's work and some serious programming due to deadlines to be met, but it still takes away from the experience unfortunately even if they do sound incredible and intricate. It's like seeing a favorite singer of yours in concert lip sync because he/she has a terrible cold. The reasoning is completely legit, and you know from previous gigs that this singer is truly gifted, but that doesn't mean disappointment should not be felt.

I'm trying to figure out the Catch 33. I'm insane, therefore the music sounds pretty decent. If I was not insane, then the music would still sound pretty decent, therefore I am actually insane even when I'm not insane, although knowing that I'm insane means that I am not really insane etc.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |

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