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Meshuggah Catch Thirtythree album cover
3.68 | 212 ratings | 35 reviews | 32% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Autonomy Lost (1:40)
2. Disenchantment (1:36)
3. Imprint of the Un-Saved (1:44)
4. The Paradoxical Spiral (3:11)
5. Re-Inanimate (1:04)
6. Entrapment (2:28)
7. Mind's Mirrors (4:29)
8. In Death Is Life (2:01)
9. In Death Is Death (13:22)
10. Shed (3:34)
11. Personae Non Gratae (1:47)
12. Dehumanization (2:55)
13. Sum (7:18)

Total Time 47:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Jens Kidman / lead vocals, guitar, bass
- Fredrik Thordendal / guitar, bass
- Mårten Hagström / guitar, bass
- Tomas Haake / spoken vocals

- drum programming by the band

Releases information

Artwork: Tomas Haake

CD Nuclear Blast ‎- NB 1311-2 (2005, Germany)
HDCD Nuclear Blast - NB 27361 (2005, Germany)
CD Nuclear Blast America - NB 3201-0 (2013, US)

2LP Back On Black ‎- BOBV036DPD (2005, UK)

Thanks to frenchie for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MESHUGGAH Catch Thirtythree ratings distribution

(212 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(32%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

MESHUGGAH Catch Thirtythree reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Meshuggah are always progressing in their own way, into new territories both for them and for other progressive metal bands. They have mastered all their previous studio efforts with breathtakingly heavy and complex riffs, solo's and originality. This album, their currently newest effort, is however the most unusual one in their discography. It's slow and intense, not unlike their previous album, "Nothing", only that this one is darker and chilling, the riffs are sludgy and hypnotic, complicated and hard to follow. It's perhaps their most patience-required album to date.

Drummer Tomas Haake takes a break from the drums and uses his "Drumkit From Hell" sample archive instead, but you'll barely notice the difference. Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hågstrøm's guitars sounds different than any other guitar sound I've heard thus far and the bass supports the riffs sludgy sounding approach into a bombastic and kind of inaccessible affair. It's grower for sure, even me, who are a huge fan of this band, didn't think much of this album after first listen, but it growed on me well, though not enough to name it as one of my absolute favorites from them. I still love the riffing and the ambient guitar noodling parts though it drags on for too long sometimes. Overall, I think it deserves at least a 4 star, but not much over that.

Not recommended to new fans, but already fans of Meshuggah should surely check this one out!

Review by frenchie
5 stars Meshuggah are one of the most original bands I have ever heard in my life. "Catch 33" is my first full length album I own from this band and it is truely incredible. This album manages to get a 5 star rating because not only is the music played to perfection but it is one of the most original, interesting and mind blowing pieces of music that lies in my vast collection.

"Catch 33", I think, is definetly a prog album. Don't expect any kind of similarities to the likes of YES and GENESIS for you will not find any. In fact most lovers of prog could find this difficult. "Catch 33" will go down amazingly well with fans of extreme heavy metal and fans of very technical and interlectual music (baring in mind that the whole prog genre is full of this, yet this album takes it to a different degree!).

The framework and structure of this album is incredibly interesting and is something i have never come across in my whole life. Meshuggah stand alone in their own field of progressive "math metal". This album is full of much varied tracks times yet this is certianly just one big 47 minute epic that has been broken down into different tracks. I would not say that each track is an individual movement within a suite, that is just not the case here. The first 6 tracks are based around one solid riff that travels through different tracks, building up more power, speed and brutality. The album then progresses into a state of relaxation before it bursts into even more sonic brutality.

"Catch 33" starts off with one thundering riff, proving that Meshuggah's long year gap's between each album is worthwhile for getting all the ideas in. The use of odd time signatures and detailed shifts make each part of the huge opening riff that travels across different tracks completely mind blowing and very interesting all the way. Every time I hear a Meshuggah riff in their unique style I feel completely mezmerized and blown away. Hearing them live at Ozzfest this year was truely incredible.

The first 6 tracks are a journey of growing brutality. "Minds Mirrors" offers an incredible release. This track is essentially placed in the middle of the album to offer a great moment of relaxation. Almost an ode to space rock, the vocals here are echoic and uplifting. There is a still an aura of curiosity and darkness lurking in this track as it starts to go back into even more brutality than when the album began!

The rest of the album shows off less repetitive riffage and songwriting. Highlights are the two "In Death" tracks, "Shed" and "Sum". The later being a breakdown from chaos to order. As the album finishes you will hopefully feel drained by all the incredible complexities in this album (in a good way), and completely blown away.

Meshuggah prove themselves to be an unstoppable force. One of the heaviest and most original bands out there. This album is a masterpiece as it is not only one of the strongest metal albums I have ever heard, but it is one that can help spark off new ideas for future metal bands. 70s symphonic proggers beware, prog metallers... Meshuggah are your new gods!

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Metal is a funny thing, isn't it? Structurally and tonally limited, dismissed by anyone who isn't a fan (including many ex-fans who believe they've 'grown out of it'), and frequently poised to plumb recesses of the human spirit to which no other genre will do more than allude. As soon as some tentacle of the genre gains wider credibility, another will dive into the depths with a renewed conviction to wreak musical havok. For every SLIPKNOT, there must be a MESHUGGAH.

And with Catch 33, they pull no punches. No instrumental solo relief, no cliche 'acoustic part/ heavy part' pop metal dynamics, no nu-metal hip hop urban affectations...nothing but the hard stuff, from start to finish. Sure, many bands can do the unrelenting low-string riffing thing, but very few have the balls to take a single improbable riff and pound it into your head from countless angles the way MESHUGGAH does. As with previous albums, there's an expansion of the HELMET/ SEPULTURA feel here, an industrial tension without industrial pretensions. "Catch 33", however, is even more conceptual- but in a very different way than the usual narrative or thematic focus of most concept albums. This is not as much a story as it is a refined expression of a complex but primal state of being...though the specific definition of the details of this state are best left to the individual listener. Everything up to and after the catching of the breath that is "In Death - Is Death" is hardcore grindage of the highest caliber, toying deliberately with rhythmic and tonal variations that have nothing in common with the DREAM THEATER school of self-conscious musicianship. MESHUGGAH don't give a damn if you respect them.

But you should...apart from the uneasy ambience of the "In Death" intermission mentioned above (which I alternately endure or appreciate depending on my mood), "Catch 33" is a rare journey into the harrowed souls of very bright guys making very dark sounds. If you have absolutely no use for metal, or you prefer your metal to be reasonable in intent and delivery, you won't get anything from this album anyway. For the rest: when you want impassioned self-expression and textured tonal variety in your prog-metal, you have OPETH and PAIN OF SALVATION. When you need to grind your teeth in darkest darkness with no safe corners or instant gratification, there's "Catch 33".

Review by FloydWright
4 stars Be forewarned: if you are not into extreme metal, and you like your music to have more normal chords than not, this is not for you. Imagine the theme to the Twilight Zone with shrieking lyrics and brutal, unrelenting rhythms, and throw in a little of PINK FLOYD's "Interstellar Overdrive" for good measure and you'll start to get an idea of what Catch-33 is all about--and even then you're likely to find it hard to take in your first time around. It's almost an endurance test that first time around when you don't know where the breaks are.

The kind of music theory that went into this is of a level I've never encountered before except in the works of modern classical musician Steve Reich, and I've heard that Schoenberg was involved with it to an even greater degree. It's very clear that they listened to atonal/12-tone pieces when composing this. Iin fact, the Twilight Zone theme is the most well-known example of a piece that follows this theory, so it's no surprise that came to mind. And for another reason it's very appropriate; there's something very sci-fi-like about the atmosphere of the album, all the way from from the grating, futuristic "chords" made up of the "devil's interval", and the perplexing rhythms, to the distorted, sometimes computerized voices.

It's hard to name specific musical highlights on this album, but I thought the lyrics, especially for "Mind's Mirrors" and "Disenchantment" went a long way to add to the mood of the album. Whether they describe a bad acid trip, a near-death experience, or actual death is anybody's guess, but they manage to be beautiful and harrowing at the same time without resorting to vulgarity. Since this album is for a niche audience, my rating would be 3.5 (i.e. only essential if you're into the genre), but this is incredibly well-performed can't even tell that the drum machine is a machine!

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars Evolution complete.

I wanted to write this review along the same time as Cynic's Focus because Meshuggah has generally been at the forefront of metal creativity. Other than the heaviness, they basically are entirely different than any other act. This record also reminds me strongly of Focus because of the jazz, complexity, and a brief appearance of "space vocals" on Mind's Mirrors.

It's also heavy as heck, maybe the heaviest to date of their career (8 string guitars go pretty low), though the machine gunning sound is gone. With their last several releases, this is right in line with the progression of their sound (although I was not as impressed with Nothing). All the song's flow together as one gigantic, slow, heavy, droning, complex sound. Again, prog traditionalists beware, this record's not for you. No fine melodic passages, no prog conventions (other than being different), and no pleasant sound.

If one is not paying attention, much of this will all sound the same and will seem boring, unimaginative garbage. However, if proper attention is given, one can notice the subtleties to the sound, the ever present complexity of the work (without running all over the fretboard), and most importantly, the progressiveness of the work (easily the most progressive of all Meshuggah albums).

It is their densest material to date and the most difficult to "get". Catch 33 represents a great transition in their sound and really is the evolution of their sound. I sense future works to expound upon this new change which certainly has divided their fanbase. Those wanting to explore the depths of heavy music, and I do mean heavy music, will have made a wise choice in listening to Catch 33.

Review by rushfan4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This Meshuggah album may be the very first album that I turned off without listening to the entire album because I disliked it so much I couldn't finish it. My prog tastes tend to lean towards prog metal but I am not into thrash metal. Quite frankly, this is an album that I should never have listened to because it doesn't meet my tastes, but Meshuggah has been highly praised in the forums and since I like prog metal I thought that I would give them a try. I found this to be total noise completely devoid of any melody or any memorable music. Those that praise it claim that Meshuggah are definitely a prog metal band because they play a sort of technical math metal. But again to my ears it was just a thrash album made up of angry vocals and instruments that were dark and atonal.

I know that this is a negative review. My goal with this review was not so much to post a negative review but to comment that what I expected to hear from a prog metal album and what I heard from this album were two completely different things. Shame on me for not researching it further before listening.

I have given this album 2 stars because I feel that it is for fans only. I think that if you are a fan of thrash metal or a fan of Meshuggah in general than you will probably like this album, but if you don't like thrash metal, than you should probably stay away from this album. Although this might be the worst album I have heard from prog archive recommendations I didn't give it a one star for Poor. Only for completionists, because from what I can see fans of Meshuggah truly enjoy this album, so it isn't a poor album from that perspective.

Review by JLocke
4 stars Tech/Extreme Prog Metal, as Meshuggah are (as of this writing) considered, is a very difficult genre to review when it comes to being progressive in nature. Yes, it is very heavy most of the time, and it also represents alot of things about metal that the more traditional prog fan hates. Indeed, more often than not the listener will hear such things as death metal growls, down-tuned guitar riffing, dark lyrics, lack of melody, and absence of keyboards, in alot of cases. So why is Meshuggah even on this site? Well, I think that if these non-fans of the genre would truly listen to bands like Meshuggah, they would find out what all the hype is about; but it is a very subtle thing to notice at first, asnd I must admit when I first listened to Meshuggah, I vowed never to give them a listen again. But for some reason I couldn't resist, and now they are one of my all-time favorite bands, in any genre. But let's face it; with so many metal aspects involved, Tech/Extreme Prog Metal has undoubtedly bifurcated the prog fan community more than any other sub-genre. However, this does not mean a more traditional progressive rock fan is sure to hate Meshuggah and bands like them, but it does mean that if anyone would be more likely to dislike them, it would be someone of an earlier past time, who enjoyed the classic bands, but no longer feels like ''good music'' is produced anymore. While I think this is a nonsense, it is very understandable why a person would feel this way about modern prog music, especially when bands such as Meshuggah and Opeth are considered to be amongst the bands that make up the modern prog movement.

So let's get things started. Firstly, CATCH 33 was my first Meshuggah album. I bought it knowing that I didn't like what I had heard from them before, and that I was either going to grow to love them, or grow to hate them even more. Fortunately, the former scenario came to pass. I was immediately struck by the rhythms of Mårten Hagström, the powerfull yell-vocals of Jens Kidman, and the otherwordly quality of Fredrik Thordendal's lead guitar work. While Thomas Haake isn't doing much on this record (time constraints led the band to use a custom drum machine on this effort), his drum programming matches his real drumming to the T, and now that I have listened to the band's other efforts, it is safe to say that it sounds no different in technique and precision than Haake's actual drumming chops. So his absence on this record is truly not an absence at all, and the drum machine's presence doesn't alter the listening experience in any way.

Something I would like to touch upon as well: Many people seem to believe that Meshuggah is 'math- metal', and feature crazily-difficult odd time signatures in their music. Now, I'm not a music tech, and have little to no knowledge of what proper music theory is, but the band's members themselves have on more than one occasion dismissed this notion, and even pointed out that Haake-- ableit playing something off-beat with his feet-- keeps the standard 4/4 time backbeat going with his hands at all times. So even though Hagström may be playing a 23/16 time sig in the foreground, Haake's hands keep things simply and concise underneath all of the chaos. So this leads me to believe that Meshuggah's comopsitions aren't quite as complex as most people make them out to be, and yet I understand that actually playing the songs is a very difficult thing to do. So I am not trying to belittle the band members' technical abilities, but I am pointing out something that may put a person's opinion of the band in a bit more realistic perspective. More or less, the rhythm structure is based on where the bar line is, and not necessarily what time signature the song is written in, since it is in essence, still basic 4/4 time. Why point this out? Well, I have noticed some reviews on here claiming that Meshuggah really aren't anything special, and that the song structure is too simply to be tech/extreme, so hopefully by pointing out that Meshuggah never aimed at being considered this technically-charged math rock band that people are calling them now, it will help those people to look at the band from a different perspective.

With that out of the way, let's get to the reviewing.

CATCH 33 Opens with ''Autonomy Lost'' (which is actually the first of three parts of the same track), and introduces the thing Meshuggah is most famous for: crazy time signature guitar playing and drumming overtop of a basic 4/4 time backbeat. The rhythm featured here is very addictive, and I just love the way it fuels my adrenaline. Something else (I would find out later) Meshuggah loves to often do is repeat the same riff over and over again, creating a form of hypnotic trance, then once the listener begins to feel comfortable with that rhythm, it will completely change and throw you off once again. It's that not knowing what is around the corner aspect to Meshuggah's music that proves that they are progressive, as far as I am concerned. Jens Kidman is on top of his game on this album, and as his voice comes plummeting in, you know that you are in for the ride of your life. Granted, the experience is very fulminating from the get go, and this lack of atmosphere and presence of non-stop aggressiveness is actually something I actually went considerably out of my way to impugnment (See ''The Bedlam in Goliath''), but in this particular case, I feel like the aggressive aspect in the music works very well, and at least there is some structure and groove to it, unlike the former album I mentioned. I noticed in a couple of reviews for this album that it is assumed that the entirety of this song (Which are the tracks ''Autonomy Lost'', ''Disenchantment'' and ''Imprint of the Un-Saved'') is made up of exactly the same riff played repetetively. This is false. as one would know if they took the time to really sit and listen to the guitar work beautifully executed by Hagström. The riff starts out as a certain rhythm, with a certain number of notes per bar and a certain order in which they are played. At many point within the song, all of these aspects change, and the notes are played in a completely different order, rhythm, and time signature. This means that it is a different riff. Similar notes, but different nonetheless. Therefore, while some people over-complicate Meshuggah;s music as mentioned above, some people also over-simplify it, which is just as wrong to do.

Once the first 'movement' of this song (As CATCH 33 is in essence one huge song that spans the entirety of the album) is over, track 4 begins. Now everything is different, and not just the guitars. This continues on for quite some time until the next blatant transition with the track ''Mind's Mirrors''. This is my favorite of the album, just because it is the most dark, the most strange, and frankly, the most prog track on the record. The spoken word section of the album is to be found here, with Thomas Haake speaking his lyrical poetry into a symthesizer that is unkwon to me, but will surely be recognized my more seasoned music listeners. Following this undoubted;y spooky moment on the album is an equality unsettling yet beautiful quiet section, featuring some of the most atmospheric lead guitar work I have ever heard. Thordendal is really great here, and proves that his band is more than just a death or black metal act; they are truly progressive.

Now we are treated to a song that spans two tracks: ''In Death is Life/Death''. The riffs here are some of the best on the record, with a very disorienting rhythm structure that I still haven't managed to tackle yet, no matter how many times I listen to it. Both tracks are more or less the same, with the only real difference being at the end of track two, when a very foreboding quiet section comes in once again, lasting for a very long time. In fact, it lasts so long, that in the past I have found myself drifting off to sleep with my headphones on late at night as this part plays (Well, even on the heavy parts, I become very entranced and hypnotised by the beats, but this case in particular is very soothing to listen to). Eventually, things kick back into gear again, and the band have done a good job of excersizing an old law of music and created a quiet moment for so long that the ear-splitting opening to the track ''Shed'' seems as if it were the loudest thing on the record yet, simply because the contrast is so extreme. It works very, very well.

So the track ''Shed'' as mentioned a moment ago opens with a blood-curtling scream courtesy of Kidman, and then brealks into some of the most pulsing, throbbing guitar riffs on the whole record. This track is fairly short, and feels even shorter, ending way too soon in my opinion, as I wanted it to keep going.

The last three tracks on the album once again continue a single strand of music composition, and it serves as a very good album closer, complete with yet another quiet moment at the end. This is followed by a gargantuine wall of sound that is actually quite beautiful to my ears, before finally silencing the band members for good. All except one. Thordendal continues to play some very bluesy clean guitar work until the album's end, and it truly strikes me positively every time. The dark, quiet sections have been married with the heavy aggressive sections to create what is in my opinion Meshuggah's best album to date. Will they make a better one? Only time will tell, but I can gaurantee that whatever happens in Meshuggah's future, this album will be remembered for years to come. A four star effort.

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars I don’t wander over into tech-metal territory all that often, but it pays to check out what the kids are listening to once and a while – helps explain their zombie-like stares as they trudge through the mall.

Seriously though, I’ve actually heard some pretty decent extreme metal music on a few occasions. There’s that Cynic album (still can’t get “Veil of Maya” out of my head and the damn thing is fourteen years old!). And Opeth’s ‘Blackwater Park’ is one I still play from time to time. Then there’s,….. well, there’s,……. erm,…….

That Cynic album is pretty amazing.

So I’m not a major fan of this kind of music. Possibly because there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of it worth getting into, and this album isn’t much of an exception. First off, simply creating guitar arrangements of basically one riff with oddly-phased timing doesn’t make an album exceptional. Whether the riff is a finger-picking acoustic one on a simple folk album or a death metal-like dirge, it’s still one lousy riff. On ‘Catch-33’ the band trades that one in for another one somewhere around “Re- Inanimate”, but then there’s several more minutes of that second one and a bit of an encore again toward the end of the album. Yawn.

“Mind´s Mirrors” is just a tad more interesting with the sound effects and moody passage, but only because it means the two chords we’ve been listening to for a while are over for now.

And “In Death - Is Death” breaks the mold for a big chunk of the album (over thirteen minutes actually), but there’s nothing new introduced in this track after the fourth minutes beyond some sonic noodling and brief periods of almost total silence. Sounds like the band just left the tape rolling in the studio while they cleaned the knobs on their effects generator and stepped outside for a smoke.

After that we’re back to “Personae non Gratae” and what appears to be the same guitar riff as what was on the first three tracks, followed by – well, more of the same with “Dehumanization” followed by the closing “Sum” with almost imperceptible wispy guitar notes trailing off into nothingness.

So maybe it’s not fair for a non metal-guy to violate the sanctity of the holy chambers of tech metalhood, but I’m here so deal with it. Really, there’s only so much any band can do with three guitar/ bass players and a drum machine, no matter how hard they try and how good of musicians they are. Meshuggah may actually be a stellar metal band, and I’ve read several reviews and bios that say they are. But on this album I can’t say they really rose to the challenge. This sounds more like noise for the sake of inciting angry fifteen year old boys to violence. It’s been done before. Two stars for fans of the band but I doubt beyond those that there are even many metal fans who would find this to be great.


Review by LiquidEternity
2 stars Of the three Meshuggah CDs I owned for a while (the others being Destroy Erase Improve and I), I find this one the best and most intelligent.

Meshuggah have long been known to write highly complicated patterns of monotony, but thankfully that gets thrown away somewhat for this release. The album plays like a forty five minute song, if you will, but there really is not very much in the way of continuity. For the most part, even though all the vocal parts and plenty of the guitar lines sound quite similar, there really isn't any continuity to the album as a whole. Parts are played and discarded. I heard a rumor once that there were lyrics, but you wouldn't know it by listening to this--so I'm afraid I can't discuss those.

What we have here, though, is a critically acclaimed progressive metal act finally trying something progressive. Some awkward and sophomoric soundscapes fill several songs, but even though they aren't terribly interesting musically, they create an effect that I haven't found anywhere else in Meshuggah's music: they make the next section more interesting. The production is much tighter than in previous albums, and the sound conveys more than a mere intent of heaviness--sometimes the music on Catch 33 is in fact heavy.

This album is supposed to be one of the band's most deep works, one of the hardest to digest. In the end, though, it was the only one I could really swallow at all. The repetitiveness and monotony is still present, like in all their releases. Still, an effort at self improvement is a good sign.

Review by horsewithteeth11
4 stars This is the fifth studio album by Meshuggah, and it's easily their most experimental to date. For those expecting machine gun riffs, don't come looking for them in this album. In a way it's continuing the trends of "Nothing" in that this album is certainly slowed down, but this time it's more experimental metal than groove metal. This album is certainly a grower. It's taken me about half a dozen listens to fully appreciate everything that's going on in it. Also keep in mind that this really isn't an album comprised of 13 tracks, but rather 1 song broken up into 13 sections. In the world of metal, this is easily one of the best experimental albums I've heard, and while some may not like the fact that Haake chose to use a computer program for this album instead of playing himself, I think that it really works in this case. If you've heard and enjoyed other Meshuggah releases, like your metal on the more twisted and experimental side, or simply want something different than your average "traditional prog" album, this is certainly a worthwhile album to check out. However good it is though, it's nowhere near my favorite Meshuggah album, but it is a sure sign of how this band reached full maturity in my opinion two albums back with Chaosphere. I can easily give this 4 stars.
Review by JJLehto
4 stars Meshuggah has been moving in a less thrashy, heavier and more complex sound for 3 albums now. By this point they have fully completed the transition. Catch 33 is a very slow, heavy, complex album with time signatures and rhythm's all over the place not to mention wild tempo and style changes. Just like the last few Meshuggah releases this album features varied time signatures and rhythms all built around a standard 4/4 and has jazz fusion elements. A really wild album and I do think this is their most progressive album.

There are some interesting things to note about Catch 33. First, this album is actually just one giant song, which has been divided into 13 pieces. Second, this is a concept album. Perhaps not in the standard sense that it follows a story throughout, but it is built around one concept, (which would be paradoxes). Third, Tomas Haake does not drum on this album. Instead they use a drum machine, (aptly named the "Drumkit from Hell"). Granted, the drum programming is done by Haake, and the program uses actual samples for Haake's drumming. So while absent in person, it sounds exactly like he was playing. (Apparently, this was due to time restraints but I am not sure). Also, interesting to note Jens played guitar on the album, in addition to Fredrik and Marten.

The album begins with Autonomy Lost. This segment jumps right into a very Meshuggah riff. Heavy, odd and poly rhythmic. Soon a manic sounding tremolo picking starts up in the background. Then you are pelted by Jens vocals, the most intense yet. This continues through Imprint of the Un-Saved and Disenchantment. Of course with subtle changes throughout that only us proggers would notice.

The Paradoxical Spiral starts with more manic guitar and then a very groovy riff. There are vocals here, ( I believe by Haake) but they are tough to hear, buried way under the music. Jens then comes in. The music has a very different feel in this section. A pretty nice solo comes in about 5 minutes in.

NOW things get real interesting. Mind's Mirrors begin with a very unique sound. I am not sure, but it sounds like guitar tuned so low the strings are hanging. It produces a very low, rattly sound that is really just amazing! Soon Tomas Haake starts delivering some spoken word through a vocoder, (or some synthesizer, I do not know). This over the strange rattling creates a GREAT atmosphere. It really is beyond words.

In Death - Is Life and In Death - Is Death really change the pace. This part goes on for over 13 minutes. It starts out nice. It features a slow, haunting, strange melody with a building noise in the background, and the whole piece builds until we are suddenly thrown back into a riff. It sounds cool, but not very different from prior parts and honestly, it drags a bit. Though there is a cool little section with some great drum programming then we go into another different piece.

This one is a little faster then the rest of the album and is quite technical, showcasing Meshuggah's complex rhythms. There are some intense vocals and interesting solos here. There is an interesting section that builds and builds, with some low vocals then explosion! One of the greatest screams you'll hear. The next section is cool, and the album goes out with some intense screaming and then....dead.

A VERY unique piece, and in my opinion their most progressive one. It is a good work, however there are some downsides. Overall, sections tend to drag. It is good for a while, but I just feel myself ready to fast forward eventually. Maybe they do this on purpose to then wham you with a change...but I can not take it sometimes. Also, I have been talking about Jens vocals for some time. They have been tolerable yet increasingly harsh. Some sections on Catch 33 they REALLY fit the music. Other times they are way too piercing.

A good album, could listen to it, but not very often. However, any Meshuggah or tech/prog metal will at least appreciate the complexity and progressiveness of this album. I give it a 3.5, thus it gets a favorable bump. Highly recommended for prog/tech metal fans.

4 stars

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Caught in a mind's mirror of insanity and meshuggah!

The djent progenitors and masters of the EXTREME thrash/jazz/fusion/progressive genre (seeing as they're really the only true ones in it), Meshuggah have released a number of insane and bombastic releases, and Catch-33 is one of my favorites. One epic 40 minute track, the album is similar to Dream Theater's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence but a ton heavier and more extreme (similar in the fact that it's a 40 minute epic broken into parts!). The band, equipped with dual 8-strings and a drummer from hell, flesh out some extreme music. The whole song, as the title suggests, revolves around paradoxes and "catch-22s." Overall, the album gives an absolutely insane ride of bumps and banging rhythms and insane guitar riffs.

Now, I won't review each of the 13 parts individually because they make up for a whole one song. So, Catch 33 is currently the longest Meshuggah song to date, bypassing 2004's 21- minute "I." This song offers a 10 times more dynamic, intense, and invigorating ride. Yes, for most of the time you do get Thordendal's crazy up-down-up-down-up-down-wammy guitar riffing, but occasionally he throws in one of his weird experimental solos or a more creative riff. The song stays rather constant for the first couple minutes until you hit Mind's Mirrors, the first variation from the bombardment of insanity. Here you have some "clean" vocals, distorted by god-knows-what effect, leading some growling guitar massacre by a tremolo bar, and other insane and ambient effects. This song breaks into my favorite part in the song In Death -- Is Life, which opens with an absolutely killer riff that makes anyone want to bash their head through a wall. The song continues with more creative sections and great parts such as In Death -- Is Death, a 13 minute djent session that could leave the most seasoned of head bangers gasping for breath. Shed is another great section, with some more intense and more creative riffing, with even a slight sign of a melodic solo/guitar work. Personae Non Gratae begins the end of the song, that zeniths at Sum, a 7 minute epic djent session that ends this song with a huge smash.

ALBUM OVERALL: Meshuggah, Yiddish for crazy, is quite the proper term for this type of music. Catch-33 is an insane idea, full of insane music, lyrics, rhythms, guitar riffs, solos and so much more crazy stuff that is so typical for Meshuggah. The 40 minute epic takes on a paradoxical ride of djenting guitars, polyrhythmic drumming, and every aspect that you would expect on a Meshuggah album. The riffing can get boring, seeing as there really isn't much to do with djent--ja--ja-ja--djent--ja--ja-ja over and over again, but when there is something really creative put in, it's incredible. Overall, the album is great, with a few boring sections but overall a great ride. 4- stars.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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 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.

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars It is basically a fact that Meshuggah are the godfathers of djent. Though while it'd take them a few years from 1987 through 1994 to become fully djent (at first they were a very technical thrash band) they would endure a long journey through their streak of djent music over the years, inspiring prog metal entrepreneurs like Periphery, Animals As Leaders, and Car Bomb to follow suit in this angular conga of mathematical metal.

While Meshuggah at first wasn't all that special to me, mostly due to me getting introduced to the band through their 21 minute song EP of I, which at the time, around late 2022, was kind of a disappointment as I thought it was simply just the same technical riffs over and over again, that was a while ago, and sooner before I knew it, I realized that Meshuggah is more than just a band that can do technical riffs, they can do a lot more, but I think if you have been in the prog metal fish tank for quite some time you might already know that, so let me skip the sentimental words and get into the real stuff.

Catch 33 is the band's fifth studio release, and here is when you can really tell the band took their sound to the extremes, creating a 47 minute song that is split in 13 different parts, kinda like the 43 minute track of Sol Niger Within by Fredrik Thorndal's Special Defects, though that album is split into 29 parts (but only on physical releases, on streaming it is just one big track). I feel like in Meshuggah's style, and compared to their other long track of I, Catch 33 is a really strong rendezvous through a mechanical labyrinth of brutal riffs, strong hooks, and a busy and existential atmosphere that goes through most of the album seamlessly.

What I really love about this album is how the band managed to make all the riffs after those from the first three sections feel like one big conglomerate, going from a very intense riff from Autonomy Lost, to this big and hypnotic melody at the end with Sum. I really like it when a band seems to create this melody throughout their playing, straying from the path occasionally, but always retaining that same familiar tune. That is why I really love prog epics like Tarkus or Supper's Ready, but here with Catch 33 they take it to a radical extreme, one that I can definitely appreciate and groove too.

I also will say that I really like the whole tempo and swing this album gives me. As stated from PopMatters review on this album,it is "Neither fast nor slow". While the sections are mostly 1-3 minutes at a time, with the exception of In Death - Is Death, it does take its time in establishing these hooks and series of events that, while relatively quick, feels like an entire experience feels like one giant sum, and I think that is really special. Even the minute and 40 second long opening track of Autonomy Lost is an amazing song that feels great to listen to for me.

I will say that this album can sometimes get boring, and on certain occasions it does. The entirety of Mind's Mirror and the last half of In Death - Is Death and Sum are honestly very weak compared to the rest of the album. I get giving the listener a breather, but I think there could be better ways at doing that then having these quiet and very nothing moments that honestly kinda break the album a bit for me. I think with bands like Between The Buried and Me and The Mars Volta, both equally technical proggy bands from around the same time, they managed to create these interesting softer moments that do not quite break the mold. But Meshuggah cannot make an interesting, more toned down movement, which I think is a shame, though I doubt that is what appeals people to Meshuggah in the first place.

I also feel like the bass doesn't quite get as much love here as opposed to other Meshuggah albums. It is there, and it is still really good when it shows itself, but I think the vocals, guitars, and drums just get a lot more love here instead of the bass, which is sad to me since I think Meshuggah with a strong bass can go a really long way. I think if they made the quieter moments on here more interesting, and made the bass more prominent, we might have one of the best Meshuggah records.

Catch 33 is a very good djent endeavor. It has most of the right gears in place, and compared to other great Meshuggah releases it is definitely a high tier listen despite its occasional hiccups. I recommend checking it out, though start with ObZen and Nothing (2006) before jumping into this album, as those are the Meshuggah releases that'll get you into this band, trust me.

Latest members reviews

3 stars In the search for prog blood, we sometimes arrive at the extreme, at the edge, and we see Meshuggah 1. Autonomy Lost intro metal electrified djent, to set the mouth on fire and warn of the extreme voice 2. Disenchantment continues, like the 2nd intro with a little break just to breathe 3. Imprint ... (read more)

Report this review (#2972803) | Posted by alainPP | Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Tell me another album that sounds like this. That's right, you can't! As a life-long lover of extreme/tech metal I can't tell you another album that sounds like Catch Thirtythree. It is a brutal, melody-less, technical, complex, 47-Minute mass of pure tech metal, and I have always said, since thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2491542) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Friday, January 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Catch Thirtythree is inexplicably the first or second least regarded of Meshuggah's albums in critial circles. Even the members of Meshuggah insist that fans treat the album as separate from the core discography, claiming it is merely an "experimental" album. But such reservations towards the al ... (read more)

Report this review (#2353779) | Posted by ssmarcus | Thursday, April 23, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1467437) | Posted by martindavey87 | Monday, September 21, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#936709) | Posted by Blackwater Floyd | Friday, March 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my opinion "Catch 33" is the best work from Meshuggah, absolute masterpiece which overwhelms with incredible visionariness, terrific concept and perfect execution. It's fascinating and terrifying trip into world where is no difference between life and death. The album is in fact one 47 minutes ... (read more)

Report this review (#299840) | Posted by bartosso | Monday, September 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Meshuggah. Are they Prog or Progressive or neither? Without wishing to open old wounds, what do we mean? The term 'Prog' is generally used to define a style prevalent in the early 70s, sandwiched between Psychedelia and Punk, indeed against which Punk reacted. 'Progressive', on the other hand, ... (read more)

Report this review (#280385) | Posted by trout.phosphor | Monday, May 3, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Meshuggah, it's kind of like a double edged sword, you can either love em or hate em (well for most people). I'm in the middle, sometimes Meshuaggah can kind of be boring. You kind of want them to just do something simple, write a piece of music that dosent involve a billion awkward time signatur ... (read more)

Report this review (#248409) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Friday, November 6, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Hmmm...the second lowest rated Meshuggah album other than Contradictions Collapse? Am I listening to the same album as everyone else? I personally would put this up there with my favorite albums of all time, which includes Wish You Were Here, Images And Words, Master Of Puppets, Still Life and ... (read more)

Report this review (#213196) | Posted by DarkSideOfLucca | Friday, May 1, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I have to say with a great regret, that this is my least favourite album from Meshuggah so far. After hearing the mindblowing Destroy Erase Improve, which i consider a progmetal classic i had huge expectations. But as it turned out, Catch 33 is very different. While Destroy Erase Improve was ful ... (read more)

Report this review (#157662) | Posted by delirium | Friday, January 4, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was one of the first Meshuggah albums i listened to, and it still stays as my favourite, along with "Nothing". This could be seen as a 47-minute long suite, and i do recommend you to listen to the whole before making an opinion. If you only listen to the first three songs, you will proba ... (read more)

Report this review (#104166) | Posted by Abstrakt | Friday, December 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is amazing, If I could tell you all what the time signatures going on were I would, but alas I cannot. What I can tell you is that this album is entrancing as well as motivating, it is something I could listen to over and over again without it getting old. Jens' Kiddman's Vocals are pe ... (read more)

Report this review (#81084) | Posted by Lex C | Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I am a great fan of Meshuggah since 1995 I heard the DEI and I knew it is something extremly uniqe. It was filled with 5-6 different theme changes in one song including accustic guitar themes and strong background chores and vocals... I think they've lost something though the past 5 years and ... (read more)

Report this review (#81048) | Posted by gejuhasz | Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Some people are going to find this album very hard to get into. It absolutely is not for everyone. Some will not be able to get past its uncompromsing heaviness, others will not enjoy the sheer dark nature of this album. I will often criticize a band for lacking emotion, but not this one. ... (read more)

Report this review (#80913) | Posted by int_2375 | Sunday, June 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars From seeing the other reviews this seems to be a hit or miss album, but for me it hit deep. Meshuggah is getting better and better with age. This album seems to be looked at at a technical veiwpoint, but I never listened to them in that respect. The cd an album not 13 songs. Catch 33 is without ... (read more)

Report this review (#63053) | Posted by | Tuesday, January 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The worst work from Meshuggah this far (which is no surprise, because Nuclear Blast forced these guys to record one more album). There are about two different guitar riffs on this "concept" album, switching and variating throught the songs. It could be a jam record of some kind. Well, that may ... (read more)

Report this review (#43915) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Don't let my 3 star rating throw you off - I really dig this album. But it's not for every prog fan. In fact, not for most prog fans. To like this album, you probably have to be a fan of prog metal, and you have to be okay with screams and the whole prog death genre as a whole. Basically, ... (read more)

Report this review (#42153) | Posted by | Monday, August 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After being so into Meshuggah and being charmed by the song "I", I was expecting a strong release when they told that they were on a new albums. They delayed the release date of this album for 6 months and man was I about to die waiting. Even before it hit the shelves (in April), I found the p ... (read more)

Report this review (#39917) | Posted by | Thursday, July 21, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Those who have followed Meshuggah over the years will have noticed how they have slowly spiralled away from what is immediately accessible and conventional. Ever since the stunning "Chaosphere" in 1998, the band have separated themselves from every other band on the planet - there really is no ... (read more)

Report this review (#38196) | Posted by | Friday, July 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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