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Meshuggah – I
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 Calipash.

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 group.

If this doesn’t give you a positive outlook on the future of metal, then nothing ever will.

More Info 

Meshuggah – I
Genre: Mathematical, neo-jazz death metal
For Fans Of: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Tool

Track Listing:
 I (20:59) 

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