Meshuggah are for my money, one of the most important metal bands of all time, at least in terms of shaping what metal sounds like today. The Swedish ensemble’s polymetric eight-string attack has influenced an entire sub-genre of “djent” bands, as well as seeping their influence into other sub-genres as well. Where would the oft-maligned deathcore scene and their beloved breakdowns be without Meshuggah to pave the way for the syncopated chug that these bands so often utilize? But I digress, Meshuggah have returned after a four year absence from the studio with a new track from their upcoming album The Violent Sleep of Reason.
With this track, I hear more of a return to the faster, more aggressive sound showcased by the band on their 1998 LP Chaosphere. The reason for this is twofold. First and foremost, the band have decided to record this record live in the studio, an impressive feat given the technical dexterity required to play the music Meshuggah make. Another reason, likely stemming from the studio performance aspect of the recording, is the relatively naturalistic production of the track compared to the clinically pristine production of the last two records. Whereas Koloss and ObZen were heavily triggered, cut-to-the-grid records, there’s a little more looseness here. That’s not saying that the playing is sloppy; Meshuggah are still one of the tightest bands on the planet, especially when it comes to the interlocking staccato double kick and guitar patterns they’ve refined to a science. Frederik Thordendal brings his usual jazz fusion soloing as well, although I can’t help but notice a resemblance to a similar guest solo he did for the title track of The Devin Townsend Project record Deconstruction (one of Hevy Devy’s most bonkers records if I might add).
For the record, this is definitely paint-by-numbers Meshuggah, and that’s a bit of a problem since there’s a pretty defined limit that they can take their specific sound to, and to be honest, they probably hit that wall two records ago. But this is only one track, so let’s hope that there’s a little more innovation on the other cuts the LP has in store.
The new record, The Violent Sleep of Reason, comes out on October 7, courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records.