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Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse

1991 Nuclear Blast Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-07

Meshuggah is one of those great bands that seems to re-invent itself every album. On their first full length LP, Meshuggah display technical adeptness, excellent songwriting skills, and a firm mastery of the idea behind what progressive metal should be. As far out as the songs go, this is a fairly controlled effort (in comparison with later releases) that can almost be likened to metal fusion. Jens Kidman here takes on both vocal and guitar duties, with the emphasis being on the latter, it seems. The vocals are good, but somewhat Pantera/Metallica-ish, and I've heard comparisons drawn to both. The music is definitely what sets this band apart. They are just excellent musicians who obviously spend a lot of time practicing both alone and together. Tomas Haake is one of the best drummers out there, someone who, like Sean Reinert and Peter Wildoer of Armageddon, can incorporate different styles seamlessly into their playing. His independence is excellent, which allows him to match the bass/guitar lines note for note on the kick drums (which may be in a triplet feel), while playing straight 2's & 4's on the snare. This really helps the staccato feel of the guitars. Meshuggah also have a firm handle on odd time signatures, and all of this combined pushes Contradictions Collapse into the top 25 progressive metal releases of all time. If you are into progressive, then this is the Meshuggah album to get, for their style changes greatly after this, and is a lot less accessible later.

Meshuggah - None

1994 Nuclear Blast Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-07

After Contradictions Collapse (perhaps on tour) Jens Kidman decided to direct his focus to Vocal duties, and Meshuggah hired on another guitarist. This allowed them to start to create the "Meshuggah" sound, namely chop feel guitarwork matched note for note by the drums. The overall sound began to turn a little more industrial as well, with the addition of strange effects to the mix. The first two songs here are in the vein of what is to be found on Destroy Erase Improve, very heavy, technical industrial metal. Ritual and Gods of Rapture are more of the Contradictions Collapse era, and are quite good. Aztec Two-Step is an industrial wall of noise. None is a nice addition if you want to have everything the band has done.

Meshuggah - Destroy, Erase, Improve

1995 Nuclear Blast Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-07

The first notes one hears are of an alarm sounding, a truly foreboding sound and the calm before the storm. Destroy Erase Improve is aptly named, as the band has completely transformed their sound since Contradictions Collapse. Jens Kidman's voice is tons more brutal, the guitar attack is infintely more staccato and precise, and the drumming, godly. Future Breed Machine is worth the price of admission alone , a cross of death and industrial metal which just cuts to a superb jazz break halfway through it. Meshuggah are perfectionists, and their overall sound benefits from it. How these guys can keep it together while playing is beyond me. I think that much of this is courtesy of Fredrik Thorendal, and Tomas Haake, both outstanding musicians. Solo guitar lines soar over top of a foundation which changes constantly from triplet to half time feel on a whim. Because Haake is able to play essentially two drum patterns at once, he does not have to decide whether to follow the guitar lines or keep the beat, which is a common problem in progressive odd-time music. If you keep the beat, it's boring, but you can follow the song, follow the guitar, you lose the song, and the listener. Now, this album isn't for the purist. There is definitely a lot of weird shit going on here. But, if you get into progressive/industrial/brutal metal, than this album is one easy 10

Meshuggah - Chaosphere

1998 Nuclear Blast Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-07-07

Man, I was so excited to get this album. My brother (the suave dude that he is) managed to get someone to sell him a copy of this pre-release so I could get it for my birthday. Having heard virtually nothing from Meshuggah since DEI (you should know my feeling on inter-release E.P.s by now) I don't know what I was expecting, but it sure as hell wasn't was spewed from my walkman in the Philadelphia International Airport. It's unfair I know, but I feel a certain degree of disappointment when I think about this album. All the pieces are here, the insane drumming, the 3/2 percussive lyrics, the killer leads, I just don't know what my problem is. As with many of other favorite bands (In Flames, Entombed, Atheist), I expect so much from them that when they only deliver 100%, I feel let down. Anyway, to be rational, this is about as close to perfect an album as you can get, if this is your particular cup of poison. A couple people have asked me to recommend bands which sound like Meshuggah, and honestly, I was stumped. Lyrically, a concept album which describes an individual who proceeds to swap his human parts for machinery, the music alone could have described this scenario. Cold, precise, yet always threatening to break free of binds which hold this beast together. Interstingly, I guess what is new doesn't appear to be since I have heard the Special Defects, some of which carries over onto Chaosphere. Check out the lead work on Corridor of Chameleons or the vocals on The Exquisite... and you'll see what I mean. If you've heard Destroy Erase Improve, then you probably have this, and if you haven't, well... Imagine a world where a jazz fusion guitarist employs a drummer who has mastered 4-way independence linked with a vocal pugilist who mix it up with precision staccato riffage and you still can't come anywhere near this. Excellent production (again) highlights 5 extremely talented musicians who, while not creating anything new by their standards, have perhaps perfected what will become the "Meshuggah" sound. So, I need to just get over it and listen to the album for what it really is, a sound continuation of a brilliant idea.