The Hobo Review
Five Star: A look at albums
that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very
few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally
a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry
and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock!
This series is a look at such albums.
There are few labels in the English language
that are able to adequately define Meshuggah. The words ‘brilliant’, ‘awesome’
and ‘unbelievable’ however, do tend to stick in the mind. But when we try
and characterize or classify Meshuggah, no single genre-term will do. Some
have called them ‘calculus metal’, others ‘Einstein metal’ – the label
being so infinitely helpful as to not even give a hint of the madness and
genius of the Swedish group.
Meshuggah combines elements of maths rock,
experimental/neo jazz, death metal and thrash metal with an adventurous
lust for tearing apart the boundaries of metal – utilizing awkward tempo
changes and eight string guitars to create a full-on assault of the senses.
No metal band comes close to the mind-bending probes Meshuggah’s music
launches deep into the subconscious.
The band itself goes back to 1985. Originally
named Metallien, the group recorded a few demos and then disbanded. Metallien
guitarist Fredrik Thordendal decided to continue the band under the name
Meshuggah. The first incarnation of Meshuggah shared a similar fate to
Metallien – after recording a couple of demos the majority of band members
left to join Meshuggah vocalist Jens Kidman new band Calipash. Soon after
Kidman and Thordendal decided to reclaim the Meshuggah name and discard
They went on to record a three song mini-LP
which caught the attention of Nuclear Blast, who supported their first
full length release entitled Contradictions Collapse in 1991. After Chaosphere
in 1998, the band had begun to attract mainstream attention – primarily
from magazines dedicated to specialized musicians. After the awesome 2002
release Nothing, Jack Osbourne petitioned his father to put them on the
Ozzfest bill, which rocketed them forward into the limelight.
Now in 2004 comes the release of I – a
‘one off’ single track LP release. Band members stress the track is in
‘no way any kind of pointer as to where we’ll be going for the next full
length (album).’ A shame. The single twenty-one minute track manages to
surpass every single piece of music released by the band in the past.
The track itself plays with insanely complicated
song structures and tempo changes. Should one decide to mentally map out
the composition, they should realize they have dared to attempt the impossible.
The guitars churn out aggressive, seemingly random bursts of power amongst
a chaotic background of skillful off-beats. I has a number of peak moments
– the track resembling something of an orchestral arrangement (in terms
of mounting peaks, deflating mood and progression to a violent climax).
For those of you who are comfortable and
appreciative of past Meshuggah releases – buy this album immediately. For
those of you who feel that Meshuggah is nothing more than noise – buy this
album immediately. This is one of those rare moments in music history where
no man can deny the creativity, originality and sheer musicianship of a
If this doesn’t give you a positive outlook
on the future of metal, then nothing ever will.
Genre: Mathematical, neo-jazz death
For Fans Of: The Dillinger Escape
the band's homepage to learn more
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