Coercing curiosity to create knowledge, science is a vehicle for discovery. Simultaneously limitless yet terrifying all the same, responsible for countless evolutionary milestones. Demonstrating its disastrous consequences in the aftermath of Hiroshima this inquisitive nature is not reserved solely to scientists however. Bubbling away in Umea, Sweden musical scientists were slowly forming hypotheses, conducting experiments slowly but surely understanding their calculations. Meshuggah, now in their twenty sixth year, are visionaries in the arena of sound. Inspiring yet unmatched through their avant garde approach to music. Set to unveil their next masterstroke The Violent Sleep Of Reason Meshuggah are set to recalculate, reevaluate and revolutionise Metal once again but what brings this unique approach to music? Where do the scientists get their proverbial textbooks? What makes Meshuggah’s clockwork tick? In an exclusive video Tomas Haake reveals just how the decision to begin a brand new Meshuggah chapter begins and the writing process behind their enigmatic creations.
Changing their musical DNA throughout each release Meshuggah are an anomaly. Beginning with the era of Contradictions Collapse here Meshuggah are potentially at their most classifiable. Obvious influence from the likes of Metallica saw Jens Kidman‘s monochrome growls in their infancy. Experimenting with notes, retaining an overall thrashier sound this was Meshuggah’s beginning. Despite the radical change that would be demanded from their follow up Destroy Erase Improve seeing the addition of elements moving to the far reaches of Jazz fusion making the likes of “Beneath” years ahead of their time. Returning at their most venomous yet, for their 2003 effort Chaosphere the Thrash element ever present . Acidic riffs coupled together their older sound. Whilst opting to follow more rhythmic driven patterns, the idea of melody becoming increasingly more of an afterthought. The album was devastating statement at just what this band was capable of create.
Not content with having mastered the art of speed and accuracy, Meshuggah were one of the first to experiment with the guitar as an instrument. Understanding the significance of the band’s approach to songwriting we move back to the likes of “I” EP. Created out of a drum rudiment of one Tomas Haake, the twenty one minute movement glides across sonic landscapes ranging from all over the musical spectrum building on ideas previous presented whilst paving the way for their conceptual effort later. Forming a base in rhythm, sections brought forward move into the atmospheric milieux where Meshuggah begin to flex their conceptual muscles. Eventually leading to the monumental leap forward that was Catch Thirtythree. Built around the idea of paradox the album is once again composed of a single track. Anchored by the elasticated riffing of Hagstrom and Thordendal the song snakes its way around the listener. Giving way to yet another ally in Meshuggah’s arsenal, space. Centrepiece of “Minds Mirrors“, “In Death – Is Death” and “In Death – Is Life” brings atmospheric overtones something the band have been experimenting with yet now perfect. The dampened crunch of guitar put together with the alien vocoder speech creating a striking element of dread and all the more important a sense of pace and narrative giving the album tension.
Deciding to go further into the experimental abyss Nothing saw the band experiment with the addition of two extra strings. Wanting to rerecord the album after being displeased with its final product in. Drastically lowering the band’s frequency to create a newer sound characterised by a plentiful supply of bands of the modern day. Seeing the band understand how to use their tools and piece together another album that would be another visionary step toward the future. Making one of their commercially successful tracks and Wolf of Wall Street favourite “Rational Gaze” center piece saw the band begin to embrace this idea of chromatic melody. Firmly rooted in the idea of rhythm specks of melody shone through on the release with the likes of “Straws Pulled At Random” retaining a blissful finale. Experimenting all the while Meshuggah once again retreated into hibernation before unveiling Obzen.
Arguably the band’s most technical effort to date the record contains time signatures that would be pitfalls for the less studious, deceptive changes and a near uncontrollable amount of rage. Ironic that an entity so devoid of life,echoed in its sterile sounding production would harbour one of the most intense emotions, anger. Triplet hurdle jumping “Bleed” saw the band firmly fit into their niche whilst the likes of the progressive “Dancers To A Discordant System” brought together elements previously shown adding embellishment to create an oxymoronic beauty. Not to mention the band, once again changed the blueprint using the new commonplace Axe FX. Meshuggah were advocates of profiling. Honing their focus this time on technique and tone to deliver what many could argue is one of Modern Metal’s most highly regarded albums. After entering a state of cryosleep the sluggish arrival of Koloss broughtthe band into more of an organic territory. Forgoing musical assault courses for slightly slower, almost accessible phrasing, somewhat of a rarity in the Meshuggah camp. The tracks were as simple as you can get within the five swedes’ repertoire. Lugubrious in their execution save for the scathing “The Demons Name Is Surveillance” whose whirlwind like riffing doesn’t relent for five minute stay. The record was a dystopian slug, focusing on songwriting and their ability to come together laid the path for their most real release to date.
Enter the era of The Violent Sleep Of Reason. Having been arguably the flagbearers of creativity. Changing their musical inventory once more having added strings, experimented with tones, trialed musical patterns Meshuggah return back to the basics. Reaching their technical zenith, the band made the bold decision to return back to the basics of being a band. Bringing the aesthetic of the imperfect to the band’s blueprint for perfection, the feel of The Villent Sleep Of Reason breathes honesty. Cracks in Kidman’s vocals, feedback from guitar are all unique elements that give a sense of life to the inert. With the artificial aid of technology giving flight to ideas sometimes far above bands stations. Leading in the most severe cases for the members to not even be able to perform the material live. Meshuggah once again rewrite the design entering the studio as a band to record The Violent Sleep Of Reason entirely live. Given their twenty plus years together, a cohesive understanding developed allowing for the band to be able to perform music of this complexity in a live setting. The deceptive slides of “By The Ton”, defined aggression of “Our Rage Won’t Die” or the self affirming fervour of “The Violent Sleep of Reason” all encapsulate Meshuggah’s decision to once again throw the rule book out of the window. Forever the edificial monuments to creativity within Extreme Metal, Meshuggah consistently challenge the musical apartheid and The Violent Sleep of Reason sees our five Swedes well and truly awaken to not only the realisation of the current state of the world adress but themselves as an entity.
Meshuggah’s devastating The Violent Sleep of Reason is out now via NuclearBlast.
Available on a multitude of exclusive vinyl here along with a limited edition picture disc here and of course the standard CD, and for those digital users on iTunes. Fancy seeing the band destroy your (Monstro) city? Pick up tickets for their tour in January here.