Album Review: Meshuggah - 'Koloss'

1 April 2012 | 1:57 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Keeping their spot as the contemporary kings of metal.

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Dylan Thomas once wrote "after the first death, there is no other." Well in terms of metal, after Meshuggah there is simply no one else. It's a definitive statement, which invites intrigue. But it's a fitting label reserved for a band classified as iconic.

A cursory look at the likes of Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan and In Flames standing side of stage at Meshuggah's recent Soundwave run of shows, all equally enamoured with this Swedish juggernaut, is reflective of a band that is both inspired and inspiring.

Despite the group's obvious and understandable protestations about being labelled as 'djent' found in the latest issue of Blunt, there is no denying their influence on the aforementioned sub-genre.

While many current metalcore and deathcore bands inevitably blend into one another, when you hear the first chugging, down-tuned riff like that found on 'Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Give It Motion', you know this is an unrivalled and purely exclusive sound that belongs entirely to Meshuggah.

Even the big fella up stairs must still be scratching his head at how Tomas Haake came up with the polyrhythmic pattern found on 'Bleed'. The beauty is 'Koloss' does not try to replicate such feats, nor does it impose in a negative way on the listener.

'Koloss' is its own beast. Although the heavy and surprisingly groovy 'Marrow' certainly gives things a shake for one of Meshuggah's most mind-boggling rhythms. 'Koloss' is its own album, with its own stylings and structures. And that's a good thing. 'obZen' was solid, just as other albums in the band's catalogue were and still are, but this offering divorces itself from mere re-production.

Opener 'I Am Colossus' has that familiar guitar tuning and overall sound that seemingly beats you down. It's not necessarily an exercise in blistering pace but still is just heavy. 'Do Not Look Down' begins with an ominous tom rhythm. 'The Demon's Name Is Surveillance' is probably the early highlight, with its fast-paced delivery. 'Swarm' again reinforces the strength and consistency in the sound.

This is Meshuggah in its own skin. Another typical release where the listener is the beneficiary.

Wordsmiths are going to have fun creating attention-grabbing and witty analogies to describe the sheer devastation that is 'Koloss'. "It is heavier than…" [insert analogy]. But, we'll just stop short and call this deliberate, innovative and once again forward-thinking music that delivers effectively. You know Meshuggah are too humble and sincere to gloat, but you almost have to laugh at how they continually put daylight between them and similar bands that are trying so hard to bridge the gap.

1. I Am Colossus
2. The Demon's Name Is Surveillance
3. Do Not Look Down
4. Behind the Sun
5. The Hurt That Finds You First
6. Marrow
7. Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion
8. Swarm
9. Demiurge
10. The Last Vigil