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MESHUGGAH

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal • Sweden


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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 Mrten Hagstrm, 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

Meshuggah official website

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obZenobZen
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$4.58
$2.65 (used)
KolossKoloss
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$4.58
$3.99 (used)
Nothing (CD+DVD Reissue)Nothing (CD+DVD Reissue)
Remastered
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$13.58
$8.48 (used)
Catch Thirty Three (Slipcase)Catch Thirty Three (Slipcase)
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$4.58
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Chaosphere limited digi re-issueChaosphere limited digi re-issue
Limited Edition
Nuclear Blast America 2013
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Destroy Erase Improve limited digi re-issueDestroy Erase Improve limited digi re-issue
Limited Edition
Nuclear Blast America 2013
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I (Special Edition)I (Special Edition)
Nuclear Blast America 2014
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Contradictions Collapse (RELOADED)Contradictions Collapse (RELOADED)
Remastered
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$5.26
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Destroy Erase Improve (RELOADED)Destroy Erase Improve (RELOADED)
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
Nuclear Blast America 2012
Audio CD$6.67
$7.99 (used)
The Ophidian TrekThe Ophidian Trek
Nuclear Blast America 2014
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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)

3.17 | 55 ratings
Contradictions Collapse
1991
3.81 | 131 ratings
Destroy Erase Improve
1995
3.96 | 160 ratings
Chaosphere
1998
3.57 | 122 ratings
Nothing
2002
3.60 | 157 ratings
Catch Thirtythree
2005
3.80 | 94 ratings
Nothing (New version)
2006
3.65 | 193 ratings
ObZen
2008
3.61 | 90 ratings
Koloss
2012

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

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

4.07 | 31 ratings
Alive
2010

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

3.34 | 12 ratings
Contradictions Collapse & None
1998
2.50 | 10 ratings
Rare Trax
2001

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

3.07 | 6 ratings
Psykisk Testbild
1989
5.00 | 2 ratings
Ejaculation of Salvation (Demo)
1989
5.00 | 2 ratings
Promo Tape
1991
3.66 | 20 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 | 106 ratings
I
2004
3.17 | 4 ratings
Pitch Black
2013

MESHUGGAH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Contradictions Collapse by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.17 | 55 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)

 Catch Thirtythree by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.60 | 157 ratings

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Catch Thirtythree
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by martindavey87

1 stars I came across this album in a music shop for 3 and decided to check it out. I'd heard a lot about Meshuggah and what people were calling their "math metal" (which I suppose has today been replaced with the term 'djent'), and was intrigued. However, to be honest this is probably one of the worst albums I own.

Being a thrash metal fan during my teenage years, I thought I'd be able to tolerate the shouting vocals, which was originally my biggest concern, though it really doesn't matter. The album as a whole just doesn't work for me. The music all seems dull and boring, incredibly repetitive, and the constant guitar riffs playing over drums in different time signatures (I believe this is known as a 'polyrhythm'), may seem impressive musical capability, but ultimately lacks any actual musicality, providing nothing more than material for music theory enthusiasts to analyze.

Obviously there is a market for this kind of music, because Meshuggah seem to have garnered a pretty big, incredibly passionate fanbase. And whilst I'd normally be open to giving certain bands multiple chances, Meshuggah is a band I certainly won't be trying out again.

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 ObZen by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.65 | 193 ratings

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ObZen
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Necrotica
Prog Reviewer

1 stars Keep in mind that my rating is actually 1.5 stars for this one.

If there's anything a band like Meshuggah's especially known for, it's how consistent they've been with their sound over the years. Much of their work has used their second effort Destroy Erase Improve as the general template, subtly evolving in different ways with each passing record. Unfortunately, one negative aspect of such a strategy is the band's tendency of sounding a touch too repetitive and sometimes resting on their laurels. Their 2005 album Catch Thirtythree, while boasting hints of jazz fusion, was a good example of the group's sound starting to become somewhat stale. So what did the Swedish metal legends unleash with 2009's Obzen? Absolute trash.

Meshuggah have always been a highly regarded group in terms of the instrumentalists' talents, but that does have the occasion of backfiring on a band; unfortunately, that is exactly the case with Obzen. Everything sounds too calculated, too artificial, too cold. While this style is present in other genres/bands (obviously technical death metal is generally infamous for such an approach), almost all of Obzen sounds as if it wasn't recorded by a band, but rather an assembly line of musical parts. The semblance of passion and general energy of previous records is replaced by robotic, by-the-numbers extreme metal that's almost completely devoid of any surprises or stand-out moments (or stand-out tracks, for that matter).

Fortunately, the shining light leading the darkness is the opening number "Combustion." The track is reminiscent of older Meshuggah records such as Contradictions Collapse or the aforementioned Destroy Erase Improve, opting for an extremely thrash-esque method of starting the album. Jens Kidman's voice sounds as angry as ever, and the musicians play with an exceptionally commanding presence. The solo is also a nice aspect, highlighting Frederik Thordendal's agility while also showcasing a nice sense of variety in his playing. Unfortunately though, the song only lasts four minutes. The album that follows is an overly homogeneous trainwreck that is only saved by a few choice moments.

While the band members do nothing particularly offensive to get such a low rating, my biggest criticism comes right down to the songwriting itself. Much of the album appears to be on autopilot, right down to the riffs that these songs revolve around. Let's take the title track, for example; while the doomy nature of the opening A- tuned riff is promising, the first "verse" section is completely uninteresting and leaves a lot to be desired. Jens' vocals sound too aggressive for what's being played, and lack of any embellishments to add to the precise riff make the portion sound unfinished and even unneeded. Moments like these are littered about the album, perhaps reaching a peak with the biggest travesty on the album, "Bleed." "Bleed," considered by many to be one of Meshuggah's greatest songs in their most recent work, leaves me completely baffled about why it is so revered. While repetition can be done extremely well in music (see: Opeth, Earth, Lightning Bolt, etc.), "Bleed" preys on one's boredom much more quickly. The main motif is very bland and leaves little to the imagination, and while Thomas Haake's drumming is usually a highlight in the band's music, it's tough to get invested in his drumming on this one. Even when the song speeds up, everything sounds just as mechanical as it did before. The polyrhythms in the song aren't particularly interesting, especially when the band pounds them into your head 50,000 times, and the solo happens to be one of the tune's only saving graces. On top of all this, the song is over seven minutes long... again, not a very wise investment in the long run.

Considering so much of the review was spent on just a few songs and the vast majority of the album contains the same style, you can imagine I have an absolute trove of problems with this record. Judging by the 1.5, this is definitely true, but I must mention that I didn't want to hate this album. You may not take issue with what criticisms I brought up, and if not, more power to you; the album certainly managed to strike a chord with a large amount of metal fans. I, for one, find it to be a pretty atrocious and dispassionate piece of blandness. Despite the band members' talents, the record they made is an exercise in pure frustration and unnecessary repetition.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

 I by MESHUGGAH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2004
4.16 | 106 ratings

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I
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Now, me being a fan of virtually every sub-genre of Prog, even all things regarding Iron Maiden, Henry Cow, Zao, Spring, Fantasy, Univers Zero etc.... Tool, even Mastodon....... I expected something 'special' from this offering. I came across this vinyl release whilst on holiday, courtesy of Euclid Records, Nawlins, - complete 21min. version of this meisterwerk, with 2 live tracks and a studio recording tacked onto the 2nd side of this 12" platter. I am NOT a fan of the 'death growl' style of vocals - I do, however, realise, that there is a bucket-load of talent and control to achieve this 'death growl' vocal. And I can't see someone like Jon Anderson spewing out lyrics convincingly enough to suit this incredibly abrasive music. Within a few seconds of the side-long piece, 'I', I listen carefully ; I'm convinced my limbs would fall off within the 17th bar......... These guys from Sweden need to be aware they need some O2 cylinders in tow wherever they go. This is technically proficient metal, with respect to some of the 70's giants. I really get into this music, but I do find these death-growl vocals somewhat immature. Take my analysis with a grain of sand, but I don't dig it, but I do return to this album, enjoy every minute of it. The sound is crisp, tight and clean by today's standards - really a notch beyond 'mainstream' dark-metal acts, and I can say that upon the first few plays of this album I did think that this is not the styling that is 'me'. Well, doesn't matter ; I honestly enjoy this music : The ambitious 21 min. 'I' track, begins with a harsh barrage of palm-muted guitar chunking in 7/8 time, cacophonous and noisy, breaking into the vocal part that is jagged, yet flows effortlessly blow-by-blow, until a dead-stop offers some strange singular guitar notes, springing up and down, as if being de-tuned, then BANG ! - complex rhythm that recalls Genesis' Apocalypse In 9/8 section, but heavier, more tech-oriented, and the band continue. Simply put : very impressive,. Moving on, the live tracks, recorded during the Ophidian Trek tour 2012-2013, titled 'Bleed' (7:20), and 'Dancers To A Discordant System' (9:51), show that these guys know their material inside-out, have the intelligence and stamina to pull this music off. It's tough, heavy, dark and ferocious......... I don't claim to be a specialist in this style of music, but it does tick most of the boxes for my ears. There is a 3rd track called Pitch Black, at 6 mins long, and features robotic vocals (better than the growl for me), and a repetitious riff, heavy on bass, that reminds me of something the Zeuhl bands indulge in. Oh how I wish this was instrumental. No doubt, EXCELLENT in most ways.

 Koloss by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.61 | 90 ratings

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Koloss
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars By the time they came to record Koloss, Meshuggah's distinctive "Djent" sound was no longer their unique quirk but the hallmark of a whole subgenre of progressive metal, many of whose proponents such as Animals as Leaders I find more interesting than Meshuggah's early works. Happily, Koloss finds Meshuggah stepping up their game accordingly, tightening up their compositions and working on balancing their technical capabilities with producing music which actually connects with the listener on an emotional level. The end result is an album I at first found more enjoyable and interesting to listen to than early Meshuggah works like Destroy.Erase.Improve, and momentarily rekindled my interest in the band. That said, the work still feels a bit calculated, with generic death metal patching over the holes left in their sound by scaling back the Djent.
 Destroy Erase Improve by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.81 | 131 ratings

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Destroy Erase Improve
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Meshuggah are innovators, and Destroy Erase Improve is where they wheeled out many of their innovations for the first time. There's little question that this album is of crucial importance to progressive metal, particularly that odd little strand we call "djent".

At the same time, though, simply because you originate something doesn't mean you've perfected it. The Wright Brothers' first aeroplane was an important innovation, but you wouldn't want to fly such a plane for any reason other than sheer historical interest - there are better planes that give smoother and more comfortable rides and can do more tricks these days. Destroy Erase Improve is kind of like that: I can see why it's important to djent, but I can't help but think that later bands such as Animals as Leaders have actually taken the genre in a much more interesting direction since then. (In particular I find the album to be frequently a little emotionally sparse and cold, and not in an interesting chilly cyberpunk way but more in a dull "these guys are more interested in showing off than emotionally connecting or constructing a meaningful aesthetic" way.)

I say give it a go if you're interested in where the djent craze came from, but don't judge the entire subgenre on the grounds of this shaky early blueprint.

 Pitch Black by MESHUGGAH album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2013
3.17 | 4 ratings

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Pitch Black
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Pitch Black" is an EP release by Swedish technical extreme metal act Meshuggah. The EP was released through Scion Audio Visual as a free download in February 2013.

The EP features two tracks and a full playing time of 15:47 minutes. "Pitch Black" is a new studio recording while "Dancers to a Discordant System", which was originally featured as the closing track on "obZen (2008)", is featured here in a live version. If you are familiar with Meshuggah's distinct sounding trademark style you won't be surprised when I tell you that "Pitch Black" is somewhat rooted in heavy groove laden thrash, that it features a hypnotic odd metered groove, that the riffs played are downtuned and crushingly heavy and that the vocals by Jens Kidman are raw, distorted and aggressive. The last part is not exactly true on "Pitch Black" though as Jens Kidman sings/talks in the mechanical way he has done before a couple of times in the past. The track is also in the atmospheric end of the band's repetoire with odd clean guitars and multible solos. Production wise it sounds like "Pitch Black" could be a leftover track from the "Koloss (2012)" sessions.

The live version of "Dancers to a Discordant System" is executed to perfection and yet another example of how relentlessly aggressive and skilled a machine Meshuggah really are. I think the vocals by Jens Kidman could have been slightly better, but it's a minor issue when listening to the band perform this killer track with a technical precision that seem almost inhuman to me. But as always they groove in a hypnotic fashion that's completely their own.

"Pitch Black" is a nice free EP, but it's not exactly the place to start if you're a new commer to Meshuggah. For that the title track isn't representitive enough of the band's usual style. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

 Catch Thirtythree by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.60 | 157 ratings

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Catch Thirtythree
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Blackwater Floyd

5 stars This was the first whole album I listened from these guys. I was alone, at night in my room and had my huge headphones on. The final sensation I got from it was, fear. I was kind of scared, this music I had never experienced before was haunting...but I wanted to give it another listen and another, and another. That feeling of dread, was masterfully achieved by the band, and the idea that it's just one big song just makes every bit of music fit so perfectly, from guitar riffs, growling vocals, to the programmed drumming and sound effects. I particularly enjoyed the triad of songs in the middle of the album: Minds mirrors, In death is life and In death is death. I found there, certain jazzy elements and ambient guitar playing that seemed odd at first but grew on me and collaborated to the essence of what meshuggah is. Needless to say this obscure prog gem is perfect for people who are looking for something different, past DT or PoS. Meshuggah pushed the boundaries of what music meant to me.
 ObZen by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.65 | 193 ratings

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ObZen
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

4 stars A combination of "zen" and "obscene", this album, like much of Meshuggah's output, to me works best as a sort of meditative piece, similar to what that character on this album's cover is undergoing. The music is so rhythm-based, that to capture the genius of what this band can accomplish, one should relax and let all these crazy polyrhythmic structures wash over you. Yes, it's loud as hell, and consistent at that, plus there's also vocals giving the impression of some chained pitbull being taunted by a bunch of kittens just out of reach. Still, after a bit, ObZen as a whole reveals itself as this musical shifting machine that fascinates with its tight yet insanely off-kilter pacing.

Looking for catchy melodies in a Meshuggah release is like looking for unbridled guitar solos in a Renaissance album. Melody isn't their thing. But it's not to say that some of the basic riffs utilized aren't cool sounding. If you're in the right frame of mind for this sort of thing, the polyrhythmic patterns are astonishing and even a delight to focus on.

ObZen is a heavy as their immediate prior material, but there is also a nod to their earlier thrash-influenced days, particularly regarding opening cut "Combustion", which begins things on a high and furious note. Man, it was nice to hear something like that from them after such a long time wallowing in mid-tempo-ville. Other highlights are the propulsive, heavy "Bleed", the energetic "Pravus", and the album's best track, closer "Dancers To A Discordant System", which may be my favorite tune by them. There are vocal variances to start off with, which are much appreciated after such relentless high-registered toneless barking by the vocalist, and the tune's epic nature allows for a good scope of what this band represents in one tune, with some real heavy riffing combined with amazingly complex time- signatures. Again, don't expect a slew of fretboard histrionics, although theirs some layered atmospheric melodies and rather unusual guitar soloing.

This album and their breakthrough release Destroy, Erase, Improve usually trade off as my favorite by the band, with this album's overall heaviness and cold production giving ObZen a bit of an edge in achieving this monolithic factory-from-hell aura. Not every song works, as "Lethargica" does somewhat put me in a state of lethargy as it channels Nothing's more banal moments, but for the most part, when the mood arises for some chugging fury, ObZen is one of my main drugs.

 Nothing by MESHUGGAH album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.57 | 122 ratings

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Nothing
Meshuggah Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by Prog Sothoth
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars Like an Energizer Bunny running increasingly low on batteries, Meshuggah's Nothing still putters along pounding its bass drum, but with less speed, spark, and, in keeping with the simile, energy. I will say that it's almost an exemplary feat that a band can create such technically astute music that also manages to crush me with unrepentant ennui and even repugnance. This stuff physically hurts after awhile with its perpetual mid-tempo barrage of what often seems like two note chord progressions chugged ad-nauseum over precise yet sluggish polyrhythmic drumming. There's also the vocals, constantly yelling like a drill sergeant losing his mind dealing with stoned slackers who just want to eat nachos and nap.

I know a decent portion of Meshuggah fanatics at this point would be shaking their collective heads with the understanding that I just "don't get it", but here's the thing; I am a fan of much of their material. I love ObZen and some of their other albums, but man Nothing just removes much of what I dig about the band's aspects and leaves the pure basics in a stripped down shambling form. There's no energetic speediness or change of format to counter the heavy groove-based numbers, resulting in an excursion that impresses early but settles into a tedious display of nu-metal grooves spliced up and reassembled in occasional jarring fashion. Like a heavier Korn with mathematics degrees.

Granted, I do admire the production in that this album is unquestionably heavy sounding with its extra stringed guitars groaning and "djenting" (silly word, I know) out hellish low notes in mean calculating fashion. As well, on a few occasions interesting melodic soloing appears to add a bit of ambience to the mechanical display, and yes, the tempo virtuosity is exceptional. But I will also say that they do the polyrthymic wackiness much more impressively on other efforts, including the equally plodding but overall better and more interesting Catch 33. As someone who likes what this band can achieve concerning what I would consider their best releases, I can't really recommend this album at all as it churns out one similar mind-numbing sequence after another. I need aspirin and coffee now.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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