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MESHUGGAH

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Sweden


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Meshuggah picture
Meshuggah biography
MESHUGGAH are a swedish heavy metal band who formed in the late 80's. They have had a few line-up changes over the years but their current line-up consists of Mårten Hagström, Fredrik Thordendal, Jens Kidman and Tomas Haake.

MESHUGGAH stand out from other heavy metal bands by having quite unique complexities that make their riffs and styles extra interesting. Blending styles of thrash in their early works, they have gone on to write more complex and challenging pieces album by album, taking a much more progressive feel to their music album by album. MESHUGGAH are famous for their strong use of unusual time signatures, often relating to jazz complexities. This makes their thundering riffs take a much more challenging and progressive form.

MESHUGGAH are quite unlike any other metal bands on this forum and are certainly an interesting pick of the prog metal genre. Sometimes described as "Math Metal", MESHUGGAH will go down well with fans of heavier DREAM THEATER tracks and other bands like TOOL for their unique complexities. MESHUGGAH's highest rated albums are "Destroy Erase Improve" and "Catch 33". One of their proggiest works is the 21 minute epic, "I" which is on a separate EP and is definetly worth checking out as it is a brilliant example of their odd shifts in time signatures and shows off their complex structures really well.

: : : Frenchie, ENGLAND : : :

See also:
-Thordendal's (Fredrik) Special Defects

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obZenobZen
Nuclear Blast America 2012
$8.43
$4.53 (used)
The Violent Sleep of ReasonThe Violent Sleep of Reason
Nuclear Blast America 2016
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The Ophidian TrekThe Ophidian Trek
Nuclear Blast America 2014
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ChaosphereChaosphere
Nuclear Blast 2018
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$33.64 (used)
NothingNothing
Nuclear Blast Int'L 2013
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Koloss (Deluxe CD/DVD)Koloss (Deluxe CD/DVD)
CD+DVD · Deluxe Edition
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Chaosphere (RELOADED)Chaosphere (RELOADED)
Extra tracks · Remastered
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Destroy Erase Improve (2-LP, Beer Colored Vinyl)Destroy Erase Improve (2-LP, Beer Colored Vinyl)
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I (Special Edition)I (Special Edition)
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MESHUGGAH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MESHUGGAH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.12 | 62 ratings
Contradictions Collapse
1991
3.80 | 152 ratings
Destroy Erase Improve
1995
3.94 | 185 ratings
Chaosphere
1998
3.56 | 139 ratings
Nothing
2002
3.61 | 178 ratings
Catch Thirtythree
2005
3.78 | 105 ratings
Nothing (New version)
2006
3.67 | 223 ratings
ObZen
2008
3.60 | 103 ratings
Koloss
2012
3.89 | 77 ratings
The Violent Sleep Of Reason
2016

MESHUGGAH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
The Ophidian Trek
2014

MESHUGGAH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.19 | 31 ratings
Alive
2010

MESHUGGAH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.49 | 9 ratings
Contradictions Collapse & None
1998
2.47 | 11 ratings
Rare Trax
2001

MESHUGGAH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.11 | 7 ratings
Psykisk Testbild
1989
5.00 | 2 ratings
Ejaculation of Salvation (Demo)
1989
5.00 | 2 ratings
Promo Tape
1991
3.67 | 22 ratings
None
1994
2.79 | 5 ratings
Selfcaged
1995
2.18 | 3 ratings
Selfcaged (USA version)
1995
3.50 | 2 ratings
Hypocrisy/Meshuggah (Split)
1996
2.42 | 11 ratings
The True Human Design
1997
4.16 | 122 ratings
I
2004
3.17 | 5 ratings
Pitch Black
2013

MESHUGGAH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 ObZen by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.67 | 223 ratings

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ObZen
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by progtime1234567

5 stars Meshuggah has always impressed me in terms of heaviness, brutality, complexity, and songwriting. Obzen is a peek in the bands career for me because I personally believe that this is an essential progressive metal record.

I first learned about Meshuggah through a friend, it took me a while to get into them but I did. I started off with this album. It took me a minute but eventually, it came to me. Obzen also helped me get into the heavier side of progressive music along with bands like Opeth, Nile and Mastodon.

Obzen starts off with Combustion, which In my opinion is one of their best songs that gets overlooked. Its fast, heavy, and full of energy, the perfect album opener. Second is Electric Red, its a song I consider a "deep cut." The song has this catchy groove riff that I really enjoy. The third song is Meshuggah's holy grail, Bleed. Bleed is one of the bands most well known and best songs, and for great reasons. Its technical, long, and overall a strong song. The guitars go to town on this song along with the drums, bass, and vocal delivery. Lethargica has a another catchy riff similar to Electric Red. Lethargica is one of the stronger tracks, even though its another underrated and overlooked song. The atmospheric part towards the middle is a nice touch too. Obzen, the title track is one of the heavier songs on the album. It starts of with and incredibly heavy riff that has a large impact. I believe that Jens Kidman's vocal attacks are strong on this song as well. The next two songs This spiteful snake, and Pineal gland optics are hidden gems in the bands catalog. They both don't have much to write home about but, that doesn't mean that they are bad. Pravus has a lot of impact and it is one of the strongest songs on the album. The closing track is Dancers to a discordant system. This song is another one of many masterpieces that Meshuggah has. Its nearly ten minute length lets the band really kill it on this song. The technical complexity and the guitars and bass, the drums and the vocals all are strong on the epic.

Overall, Obzen is a must listen for the progressive metalhead, or any prog fan. Its an essential listen in my opinion and I believe that it is one of the greatest albums in prog music history. Listen to it if you want extremely heavy tech prog metal, or your just getting into the band, Obzen by Meshuggah is mandatory.

Strongest Tracks: Combustion, Bleed, Obzen, Pineal gland optics, Pravus, Dancers to a discordant system. Weakest Track: Lethargica 10/10 A Masterpiece

 ObZen by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.67 | 223 ratings

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ObZen
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Something_Wicked

4 stars Obzen is a contraction of the words 'obscene' and 'zen', in that the music within is the heaviest, densest and to many the most brutal, yet it imparts a trance like state on the individual. One may get lost in the cyclic odd time rhythms, counting out the numbers like some kind of Buddhist's litany, or maybe caught in the gentle atmospherics that envelope the sheer anger and energy, transcending the filth, simultaneously detaching from and becoming one with the music. And after the fact, however many times you've made the journey through the music, you'll always want to go again, to revisit the plane in which you observed the mingling dance of dark and light, but each time is never the same.
 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 77 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars

When one buys a Meshuggah album one knows exactly what to expect, and this 2016 is no different to the ones that have come before. What we have here boys and girls is djent, but in a complex downtuned and aggressive form like none other. It is just not possible to state how brutal this album is, from the very first crunch to the last. Singer Jens Kidman has a great deal of work to do to make himself heard, as the rest of the guys are just so tight, so precise, that it is incredible that he manages to find a melody line at all. This is complex stuff, and no-one does this style of music better than the Swedes. True, they are somewhat lacking when it comes to dynamics, as there isn't a great deal of light to play against the shade, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for them as they just paint the shade somewhat darker. Polyrhythmic is the only way to describe a band who haven't worked out that 4/4 is often thought to be a valid time signature in metal. Why do that when they can groove in 5/8 instead?

There really is no other band like them, and that they continue to tour the world (they even turned up down here not long ago!) and release albums (this is their ninth) shows that while this may not be to everyone's tastes, there is simply no-one who can do this any better. Meshuggah, djent, metal, intense, superb.

 Catch Thirtythree by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.61 | 178 ratings

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Catch Thirtythree
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Tapfret
Special Collaborator Eclectic & C/JRF Prog Team

4 stars From the "wall of sound" section of my collection comes Swedish metal kingpins, Meshuggah, with their fifth full length LP-CD and first attempt at a concept album, Catch-33. The term "wall of sound" is used so that anyone reading this that is susceptible to ultra-distorted discordant guitars, maximum yell vocals (I am at the edge of my own tolerance), and obtuse, disorienting polymetric rhythms should turn around and walk away. If those elements are your cup of tea, or at least tolerable to dig deeper into a musical challenge, then let us proceed.

Released approximately 3 years after the less than enjoyable LP Nothing, the shift in album structure to a continuous piece on Catch-33 was prefaced a year earlier with the EP I, not only in its compositional presentation, but also in its lyrical theme. I may be completely off base as the lyrics contain enough metaphoric ambiguity, and there is a significant amount of interpretative discussion to be found on the internet about Catch- 33, that the concept of I appear to be expanding on the concept of self, inner struggles/paradoxes and pitfalls of defining self in reflection of others. To a lesser extent, one might even look at Catch-33 as a microcosmic extension of the concepts used in guitarist Fredrik Thordendal's Sol Niger Within. The ideas expressed in these thick metaphors are abundant with images of self being the primary perpetrator of psychological torture, even in the chemically stable mind. The summation of ideas seems to be presented early on in the album in one of its most recognizable lines, "The struggle to free myself from restraint, becomes my very shackles". Many of these ideas are expressed in the basic ubiquitous teachings of Zen philosophy and the core tenets of Buddhism. From a delivery standpoint, it is understandable that many may feel the ideas and depth of concept are lost in the profoundly distorted and incomprehensible screaming vocals of Jens Kidman. But in the case of Catch-33, there is a dichotomy in that loss of understanding by the listener is the representation of what is conveyed by that soft inner voice that speaks in paradoxes and generates the internal torment of confusion and loss of self.

Instrumentally the band uses 8-string guitars for an extremely thick bottom end. The processing of the guitar sound is peculiar in that even during the most distorted sections the lowest guitar sound less like the distortion of amplification overdrive and more like two metal pieces (wire/fret) vibrating against each other. This creates unconventional accents in the rhythmic patterns that are mimicced frequently today, but were very unique at the time of this release. Thordendal's typical Holdsworthian soloing style is used primarily as a texturing tool throughout the album. A particularly unusual aspect of this album is that Tomas Haake's drum tracks are actually programmed rather than recorded. Haake explains that this occured in the writing process, the programming was used for laying down the guitar tracks and the band as a whole decided the samples "sounded really good" and just went with it. Interestingly, they did perform some of the Catch-33 material live with Haake playing.

Catch-33 is separated into tracks for indexing purposes, but is presented as a single composition with different movements that seem irrespective of the track assignments. The composition displays a great deal more dynamic contrast than previous work. And while the use of "quiet" parts are nothing new to a Meshuggah album, they are never quite as extended as they are delivered on Catch-33. Nor are they ever delivered with as much of an avant-garde musical approach. Previous songs like Unanything, Acrid Placidity had a more generic "this is the mellow song on the metal album" feel to them. Even later, The Last Vigil, approached the use of undistorted strings in a similar vein, but did not come close in the complexity of musical idea. The sections of particular note I am speaking of are at the end of the tracks In Death...Is Death and Sum. There are a couple shorter undistorted sections, but these are the two longest. Each has intertwining guitar patterns and both contain some of the eeriest, most sinister sounding passages in the body of Meshuggah's work. I should hope that Thordendal and Mårten Hagström will employ more of this approach or even explore a separate project in the future. There is something truly majestic about that style. And even the percussive portions of the music display a depth of musical understanding that exceeds that of bands considered in the same paradigm. From the rhythmic structures that use multiple time signatures simultaneously, to use of jazzy dodecaphonics (12-tone), Meshuggah was, and continue to be unbound by expectation.

When taking into account Meshuggah's body of work I find Catch-33 at the forefront of my appreciation for its unconventionality, diversity, and thoughtfulness. It is held from the regard of masterpiece outside of the metal world simply by the vocals. And as I stated previously, there is a fundamental value to that style in the story. But it will be the thing that holds it down from the 5 star criteria set forth by progarchives.com. But I believe that the listener who is up for a challenge will find a very deep and rewarding experience in the intricacies and complex build of this mammoth construction. 4 stars.

 Contradictions Collapse by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.12 | 62 ratings

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Contradictions Collapse
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Luqueasaur

3 stars Thrash star, not so much for prog...: 7/10

Before I decided to review this, I opted on reading some already existing reviews to get some inspiration. With that in mind, Jjlehto's review translates perfectly what I see in this album, and I won't repeat what has already been pronounced. Instead, I'll recommend you to read his review and give my input on why CONTRADICTIONS COLLAPSE is a masterpiece, but not for progressive metal, as well on some details about the conceptuality.

Well, first things first: this isn't a Swedish band merely influenced by METALLICA's MASTER OF PUPPETS or ...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, this is a blatant copy gone right. You can literally hear James Hetfield on the first track, Paralyzing Ignorance. But the difference is that where Lars suck as a drummer, Haake nails it.

As an authentic fan of thrash metal, I attest this groundbreaking this is for the genre. It was released in the same year thrash gained mainstream fame with METALLICA's BLACK ALBUM and MEGADETH's COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION, but at the same time, lost its beautiful characteristic that made it so great while underground: aggressivity and an anti-mainstream sentiment. And while the big guys of the genre, by the 90's, started to lack those characteristics, MESHUGGAH comes up and BAM! you get this crushing release. MESHUGGAH came with a very clear message: we are a true thrash band.

Now let's progress to talk about the musicianship. Boy, technicality is beyond absurd, and it sounds delightfully unique for the thrash ears. The way everything's so odd and even and changing and shifting and quick and slow and groovy and heavy and then the snares and beats get confusing... it's innovative in the thrash scene, to say the least. The talent of those guys, in special the drummer and the guitarist, is something to praise a LOT about.

Lastly, as I've made myself clear (more often than needed, I suppose), this is would be for ThrashArchives.org what Pawn Hearts is for ProgArchives. Creative, refreshing, highly-rated, heavily rated. But sadly we're not at ThrashArchives. And bearing in mind this is a PROGRESSIVE focused forum, we can't really attest much progressiveness here. It's more of a "thrash with some progressive elements" than "progressive with thrash core". You can't get a distinctively prog feeling here from aside the polyrhythms and changing time signatures and insane breakdowns. I think that the fairest rating for this would be something around "3.6/5". I... might even quote Jjlehto (he's kind of becoming my hero on this Meshuggah business): "Overall, a great album! Obviously the regular progger should stay away from this. [...] fans of prog-metal this is a good work! It is still very thrashy so it depends on how metal your taste is".

 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 77 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars "The Violent Sleep of Reason" is the 9th full-length studio album by Swedish technical extreme metal act Meshuggah. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in October 2016. It´s the successor to "Koloss" from 2012 and features the same lineup as the predecessor. "The Violent Sleep of Reason" is a self- produced effort. Engineering was done by prolific Danish producer/engineer Tue Madsen at Puk Studios in Denmark. The album was recorded live in the studio, with all members playing simultaneously. So it´s basically a "live in the studio" recording, but you probably wouldn´t be able to hear it if you didn´t know it. Meshuggah are one tight playing unit. A well oiled machine. And even when they do something like this, everything is still delivered with militant precision.

Stylistically "The Violent Sleep of Reason" features very few surprises if you´re already familiar with the last couple of releases by Meshuggah. Crushingly heavy downtuned angular played guitars/bass riffs, the odd fusion jazz styled guitar solo/theme, technical drumming, crazy time signatures, and Jens Kidman´s raw aggressive vocals in front. It´s safe to say they don´t step out of their comfort zone much on this album, but the quality of the material is as usual incredibly high and the band´s sound is as unique as ever. I understand if some people feel Meshuggah have stagnated and that their style has become a one-dimensional and predictable size, because in some ways that´s true, but if you listen a bit more closely to what the band have to offer, you´ll notice that they still make little tweaks to their core sound. It´s nothing that changes their overall musical style, but there is enough development to keep the listener on his/her toes and ensure that "The Violent Sleep of Reason" stands out as an individual entity in the band´s discography.

The material on the 10 track, 58:55 minutes long album is as mentioned above of a very high quality. The tracks are written in an incredibly clever way and the technical details featured on the tracks are quite stunning. That´s not unusual for Meshuggah though, and it wouldn´t be enough if the tracks weren´t powerful and memorable too. That´s fortunately the case here though, and while there are a couple of tracks which don´t stand out as much as the best tracks on the album, every track is still of a high quality. Highlight include "Born in Dissonance", "MonstroCity", and "Nostrum", but "Violent Sleep of Reason" (which features some very intriguing lead guitar melodies/themes) and the crushingly heavy and therefore aptly titled "By the Ton" also deserve a mention.

"The Violent Sleep of Reason" features a powerful, raw, and detailed sound production, and despite how it was recorded, the album features the cold, clinical, and dark atmosphere, which suits Meshuggah´s music so well. It´s still organic to a degree though, and it´s certainly not a polished and lifeless sounding production.

So they´ve done it again...created another masterful release, which defies catagorization and which just sounds unmistakably like Meshuggah. The fans will probably praise this one as they´ve praised the band´s previous efforts, while the critics will say the same as they always do. This is not an album that´ll change that. Meshuggah´s music is still as demanding and inaccessible as it´s been from day one, and "The Violent Sleep of Reason" requires as much attention from the listener as every preceding release by the band before it. But once you lock into that crushingly heavy odd-metered hypnotic groove it´ll never let go. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 77 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Chugga chugga djent djent, it's the MESHUGGAH train coming back to town and after four long years following their most accessible album of all they return in full fury with their complex tech monster bashing mix of aggressiveness unlike any other. THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON (the 8th full length studio album) is chock full of all the famous time sig torture and mangled mutiny of sonic suffering. The title indicates somewhat of a loose theme that is based on Francisco Goya's painting "The Sleep Of Reason Produces Monsters" and it can be confirmed on this pummeling yet powerful 59 minute expression of brutality that they surely enter those territories and they are the kind that stimulate the senses in TOTALLY inappropriate ways. I love it!

MESHUGGAH wastes no time churning out the technical aggressiveness they've been conjuring up for a good twenty years and if you are familiar at all with the band's output then THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON will not sound out of step in any way with their unique take on mutilated thrash metal that has since been designated with the nauseating term "djent" which i rather despise myself. I consider it a guitar style of playing NOT a true genre per se but i digress and nomenclature aside it is the delivery of incessant progressive and aggressive dissonance accompanied by the saturnine atmospheric tone of the brutality liturgy that really delivers a top notch edition of the MESHUGGAH world of chaotic noise and overtly angry sonicity.

THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON was a blatant attempt to get out of the nitpicking neediness of the production that the band found themselves becoming slaves to and as a result this album was recorded totally live in the studio. That means all parts were recorded simultaneously by all members instead of each track separately. This does indeed give a more organic feel and yet the production is totally modern, crisp and clean and allows every little ear shattering decibelage to assault the senses. The spontaneity of what the band sounds like playing together does chime through as the album feels much like a retro 90s MESHUGGAH album i have to admit.

All in all this is a fine and dandy album that delivers all the MESHUGGAH goods and then some. The technical riff abuse is in full attack as Frederik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström are partners in crime on the dual guitar assaults and Dick Lövgren on bass and Tomas Haake on drums absolutely nail the avant-groove antics without hesitation. Jens Kidman delivers the best of his angry anti-relgious and dark cynical lyrics and vocal styles as to be expected. THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON is a fine addition to the MESHUGGAH canon but personally i can't say i like this better than the cream of the crop such as their "Chaosphere" to "Nothing" remake period.

True that they keep their sound together in tact and offer an excellent slice of their homemade musical universe but at the same time they don't really offer anything new to it and with music this brutal and complex it's nice to have some variation involved such as acoustic and ambient passages that were prevalent on their earlier albums (yes there is some but not until track seven "Stifled.") So overall this will not go down as my favorite MESHUGGAH album of all time but nevertheless a very worthy avant-garde progressive thrashy groove metal album for those who have drenched themselves in the chaotic avant-garde jazz fusion techniques of dissonant metal that they churn out so well. It should go without saying that MESHUGGAH is very much an acquired taste and nothing on THE VIOLENT SLEEP OF REASON will attract new followers. If you didn't like them before, you won't like them now but if you have swallowed this Kool-aid then you can happily expect more of the same.

 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 77 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Socrathustra

5 stars I am pleasantly surprised. The two tracks released as lyric videos ahead of the album release -- Born in Dissonance and Nostrum -- were good, but they didn't stand out. Listening to the full album, however, I'm happy to report that this is one of my favorites among their albums. It has their signature bajillion-string guitar sound with an energy they haven't matched since Chaosphere. Recorded live rather than track by track, Violent Sleep feels like the musicians actually enjoyed what they were doing, and the overall quality goes way up.

Overall, my highest compliment has to go to the fact that each song feels like it PROGRESSES. As much as I like their old material, I often feel like they sit on a single riff and do slight variations on it for four to five minutes. Here, there is variation. There is contrast of the sort that, on prior albums, you would really only get by hitting the "next track" button. This pays off in spades. For other bands this might be called something akin to "normal song structure," but playing at Meshuggah's level of skill is somewhat prohibitive to having such dramatic change-ups. So where a prior Meshuggah song might go from A to A' to A'' (such as Bleed), Violent Sleep has A, B, C, etc. in a single track. I have to respect the technical skill involved in learning multiple distinct and complex patterns for a single song.

There are only two real complaints I have against the album. First, some lyrics in MonstroCity are a little cringe- worthy. That should be apparent from the title. Meshuggah has never taken themselves as seriously as one might think they do, but... come on. Thankfully the instruments are actually really good on this track, and the lyrics grow on you in spite of themselves.

Second, Ivory Tower is a boring song. It isn't until about the 3:30 mark that we get any reprieve from the unrelenting triplet bass drum. It lacks that quality of progression that I praised about the rest of the album. Maybe it's just me, but I can't stop listening to the bass drum do the same thing over and over again. This might be fine if the thing it did was interesting, but it's just slow triplet eighth notes for five minutes.

Without getting into a track-by-track, here are the highlights:

Clockworks offers a relentless opener and a high bar for the rest of album. Haake shows off his jazz influences a bit more directly here, throwing in a bit of extra hand-work that doesn't necessarily come at the end of an eight bar phrase. It's a nice change of pace from how his drumming always seems so mathematical. It's still very much that, but he allows himself more freedom. He doesn't just carry on a 1-2-3!-4 between the high hat and snare like he does on so many songs. This generally carries through the rest of the album.

By the Ton is bizarre in a good way. They experiment with chord progression pretty liberally here. I think this is the song they called "a true twelve-tone song" in an interview, meaning there's no real key signature going on here. They use everything. There's also a distinct old-fashioned sound to the guitar. It's similar to their usual djent sound, but you can tell it's running through some kind of weird amp. It's hard to describe... you'll probably have to hear it for yourself.

The title track has some nice Shed-like psychedelic noises going for it, and the solo mid-song stands out from their traditional 56k modem logging into AOL solos by being... weirder? Again, I'm not sure how to describe it.

Nostrum has some fan-freaking-tastic drum work accompanied by minimalist guitars. It's like a better Spasm.

Kidman's voice also explores some new sounds throughout to great effect. It is more raw and unrestrained than the usual monotone.

The other songs besides Ivory Tower are at least very good. Ivory Tower itself is not terrible, just exceedingly mediocre among what is in my opinion their strongest work since Chaosphere.

My recommendation: if you like this style of music -- that is, extreme metal -- this is one of the best offerings I've heard in a long time. This is some Grade A material.

 The Violent Sleep Of Reason by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 77 ratings

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The Violent Sleep Of Reason
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars When people talk about extreme metal, they usually mean thrash, death, and black metal. However, doom metal and groove metal are a couple of genres that can be among the heaviest music out there yet get forgotten in discussions of extreme metal. For the latter, it's Meshuggah that has to remind listeners that groove metal can harbor colossal brutality on the same level if not more so.

The band wastes no time in beating you over the head with a mixture of jackhammer riffing, drum attacks and sludgy dirges. It's business as usual for the band, with insane syncopation, downtuned dirges, groovy hooks, piercing thrashings, and Jens Kidman's brutal screams and roars. "Born in Dissonance" may as well be the band's theme song, it pretty much displays what the band is all about. The sludgy "By the Ton" is another perfect representative for the band, as they sure deliver their destructive grooves by the ton. If they tuned the strings any lower, they'd break the sound barrier. "Monstrocity" is the main highlight, with the main riff sounding like a much heavier Korn, it's about as catchy as you can get while still crushing every listener's skull. "Our Rage Won't Die" is a groove-thrash fest to the most crushing degree.

There's really not much else to say. It's brutal as [%*!#], it's heavy as balls, it's skull crushing as hell, it's Meshuggah. Modern black and death metal bands wish they could be this heavy. Basically, if you liked the last couple Meshuggah albums or just like uncompromising brutality you won't be disappointed. Warning: May cause intense headbanging and extreme whiplash if you have long hair.

 Contradictions Collapse by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.12 | 62 ratings

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Contradictions Collapse
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Pastmaster

5 stars Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse

"Contradictions Collapse" is the debut studio album by technical thrash/extreme metal band Meshuggah. Meshuggah is probably best known for their odd time changes, skull-crushing riffs, meandering grooves, and aggressive vocals. However, that wouldn't really develop much until "Chaosphere". While much different from later releases, Meshuggah's debut still shows technical complexity and is an underrated album in Meshuggah's discography.

This album is much more thrash-based then later albums, which focus more on groove. This is what I'd call technical thrash somewhat in the vein of Metallica's "...And Justice for All" album with some groove here and there. You still have crushing riffing, but in a thrashing way. The opening song 'Paralyzing Ignorance' is one of my favorites, and is a great opener as it gives a good idea for the sound of the album. It's got some great riot chant vocals, fantastic riffs that I find it hard not to headbang to, pounding drums, and some nice basslines too. Speaking of bass, the bass is very audible in this album, just listen to the song 'Erronerous Manipulation' and you'll probably hear how strong the bass sound is. In the aforementioned song, it's not just the bass that's strong, there is some really catchy guitar. Most of the songs change up quite a bit, but it all sounds really natural. One minute you'll have a jazzy guitar solo, and then the next will be a slow passage or a crushing riff. 'Greed' is another favorite, starting up with a march-like beat. Of course, like most of the songs though it changes up soon enough with grooving riffs and noisy soloing. This is a little thing, but it has whispering of 'The cause of greed', similar to Metallica's 'Damage Inc.'. I don't know why, but I always love little things like that.

Unlike later albums, Jens Kidman's vocals actually kind of sound like a rawer and more aggressive James Hetfield, and that perfectly fits in with the sound of the album. Besides the similarities with "...And Justice for All", there are also parts that remind me of "Killing Technology" and "Dimension Hatross"-era Voivod. Kidman sometimes has a punk vocal delivery, and the beginning riffs of 'Abnegating Cecity' remind me of some of the guitar work on those albums. There are also some upbeat jump-y riffs and grooves throughout the album reminding me of Pantera, albeit with off-kilter drum rhythms. This is especially heard in the song 'Qualms of Reality' before it goes into a slower passage with nice acoustics.

Overall, this is one killer debut album. If you want some ass-kicking tech thrash, or if you couldn't get into later Meshuggah, then this is most certainly for you. I love most of Meshuggah's discography, but this definitely stands out in this consistently great band's output. There may be a bit too much going on for some, but I still highly recommend this album to any fans of tech thrash.

(Originally written for www.metalmusicarchives.com)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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