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Monday, March 19, 2012

Meshuggah - Koloss review

Year : 2012
Genre : Math Metal, Progressive Metal, Djent
Label : Nuclear Blast Records
Origin : Sweden
Rating : 10 / 10

Buy it now

The new Meshuggah album Koloss instantly put a huge smile on my face as opening track "I am Colossus" made my hope to be blown away by the first bars of the album, a grandiose reality. The Swedish ensemble goes straight for the core of orthodox time signatures in a flow of fluent attempts to mock it with intoxicating, thrilling eloquency, bashing your awareness with gargantuan guitars that relate to the flux of the rhythm in myriad kinds of illegal ways and feels, and, the aspect that is very quick to reveal itself right from the beginning, is the pronounced feel of the wildspace vacuum I think the band went for with this release. This is sci-fi music, this is cosmic horror abomination music. (When it is peaceful.)

A dystopian narrative feel seems to be evident on the record throughout. "I am Colossus" draws the image of a huge anti-entity, composed of the sum total of fierce, invisible-to-the-naked-physical-eye everyday human urges, like the drive to satisfy the individual ego, to kick the ass of some (pseudo) randomer in manly fashion to feel dominant and whatnot, and this Leviathan grows more and more powerful in its scattered-but-present totality as each negative human act and tendency gives another cell to its immense body. Hard it is to come to the realization that you kicked your own ass the day before. The opening track is a declaration from this Leviathan, who tells you how things will be between you and him, where the "you" is just a cell in a thought he instead chose to forget altogether.

The next track, "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance" takes you to the icy cybernetic Philip K. Dick future of Minority Report. Do you remember those little privacy-corruptor insectoid droids that swarmed the scenery in the movie, looking for a man with a specific retina? I'm pretty sure Meshuggah wanted to depict this ultra high-tech, dehumanized atmosphere in which the mood you are in might be dependent on the set of chemical tablets you could afford at the end of the month. A threatening potentiality of a grim comic book future is revealed lyrically and musically, one that conspiracy terrorists / theorists are fond to offer. I gave you these brief summaries of the first two songs to give you an idea of the mood of the release. I personally feel that reading the lyrics is essential herein to "get" the music, and here is why : the flow of the audio data supports the thought, the meaning behind the word. Sure enough, this should be expected as "normal" behavior from music, but grasping and appreciating the organic connection-, the imagery between the lyrics and the sonic information is quintessential to the experience. This second track offers a paradigmatic variant on a rabid, icy cybernetic wall of sound structure that is much more intricate and complex than you would assume it to be at the first face value, when it comes in rumbling through you as the greeting gesture. Take the effort and soak your ears into its exquisite subtleties. Like : the microscopic note-interruptions in the flow of the rhythm guitar riff are occurring at the same time Kidman delivers a syllable of the given line. In other words, Jens and the rhythm guitar create a symbiotic relationship for the "mere" fun of it, even though the song would work totally intact without this delicacy that flatters an intriguing image of engineered and soberly organized chaos. The disc is reeking superb surprises like this.

It is very rewarding to hear how this band approaches melody : they are interested in the sheer anatomy of the sound, and make magical use of it. Exceptions with highly melodic character ARE present, though. Check out the section starting from 3:00 to 3:48 in track number 3, "Do Not Look Down", for example. This is pure awesomeness '80s synth pop made with 8 stringed monster guitars. The collision between the beautiful harmonic mid-frequency ornament and the dominant monster-guitars reek Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer in a hilarious tribute-way. Once again : '80s synth pop in the Meshuggah style. Sublime delicacies like this are abundant, and not all of them is easy to pick up at first. Here is another example, from track number 2 : notice that the rhythm guitar compliments Jens Kidman's vocals by emphasizing each syllable the vocalist delivers with a massive note in the minigun-fabric of the prime pattern. It equally is hilarious when a riff takes a moment to - kind of - vomit on the floor because it can, before addressing its actual intent once more. This also is something you will find a lot of on the spin. YES, each song demands multiple listens. Who cares about a song that does not, duh.

Meshuggah sounds to introduce a new sonic entity to its relentless terror reign on silence, and this entity is a "feel" of robust suction power. Let's venture - ha. ha. - after its origins. In djent music, the low end register of an audio data - especially of the guitars - is a pretty significant component. If you are any kind of a djent enthusiast, you either have a low end fetish, or you are in the process of cultivating one. The ideal low end, in my opinion, should exhibit an autonomous and evident capacity to cause the vibration it is based on, in YOUR very core. To REFLECT the low end in your central nervous system, practically. It should physically touch you, so to speak. When my palm rests on someone's skin and Meshuggah delivers a black hole motif, I will feel the vibration of that low end on that person's skin.

It is easy to overkill the low end and harm the anatomy of the sound in the process, and, as such, consensus seems to be flexible regarding the top of the heat low - oops - end. The new Meshuggah percept of black hole suction power I'm writing to you about is a low end Sonic Declaration, and its Subharmonics are the Undoing of All, as drummer Tomas Haake writes in the lyrics of track number 7, and vocalist Jens Kidman seems to second the notion. This new concept of the incorporated sonic black holes immediately stroke me as of utter relevance even when the band released the song in question, "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion" before the official release date of Koloss, with the probable intent to stimulate interest in the LP. It is a little-, yet so significant thing, gaining its power from knowing when to limit itself. I need to embed the read more link now or I will forget to. Read on to find out more about Meshuggah's latest delivery : Koloss.

I'm not completely familiar with Meshuggah's entire body of work yet, - because who is to say that this is their last album, right? - as I know the ObZen album, the Catch 33 LP, and I checked out some earlier - '90s - stuff from them, too, back from the days when the vocals packed pitch value to them.

The reviewer is not important in a review, yet now there is relative need to outline how I familiarized myself with Meshuggah. I'm going to be honest with you, and admit regardless if you will call me a rabid fanboy or not that Meshuggah's ObZen tore my mind out and replaced a rewired version of it when I listened to the album in 2011, three years after its release. After ObZen, I listened to Catch 33, from 2005. Now is the time that I will tell you this : the Koloss LP, in temper-, in mood, is similar to Catch 33, in my opinion. ObZen, I think, is an awesome record, and also a more easily - with an incapacitated word - "graspable" album. Because that is the point : Meshuggah is not "hard" to grasp per se, it is "just" made by people who constantly seek to entertain and shape musical awareness with elements that originate from beyond the orthodox confines of musical narrative as a strategy to express soul content. As adept musicians, they simply want to have a good and THRILLING time while playing, while recording. They want to have fun, as Jens Kidman tells it so naturally in an interview. When the intent is so pure and powerful, chances are that it will work well for someone else who hears it as an outsider, too. And there you have it, indeed : brilliant rhythmic intricacies reveal non euclidean space patterns made of pure adamantium, arranged mostly on mid-tempo structures, though there ARE some full musculature, intense cosmic horror monstrosities on board, too. For example, track number 2, "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance" is "Bleed II" in my opinion.

The music of present day Meshuggah-, the Meshuggah music that has such a committed planetary fanbase-subculture glued together by the appreciation of the group, reigns far beyond the orthodox terminologies of metal. You could listen this music in 8-bit on a C64, hell, on a '80s Casio synth, and it would waste your fucking ass on spot regardless. Imagine the same kind of music with 8 stringed T-Rex guitars and avalanche drums. As I wrote in an earlier review in 1862, Meshuggah seems to worship mere sonic mass, and the magic is the result of limiting the sonic mass with ANY method whatsoever that seems worth exhibiting to limit the rampant flux of the mass with. 

The feeling is such as if you were to decipher the mechanics-, the patterns of the workings of diabolic machines that express sounds while in operation. Meshuggah is not particularly after "mere" melody. The thought overrules it. The ethos of melody most often is used herein as metaphoric pairs of light that cast their audible radiance in an attempt to further showcase the anti-inert immensity of the silence assailant audio-mass below them, that which - the mass, the rumble - equates with the primal statement per build. This band is the master of the sonic domain and its multitime rhythmizational possibilities. The group plays with the frequency, the mood, the thought, with the mere meaning of the sound, entertaining the flux of time in this process by mocking it and violating the orthodox flow and concept of it while Jens Kidman's vocal delivery is a constant-, astonishing sci-fi horror comic book reference point of a pissed off humanity that is neither Animal and neither God ENOUGH.

Sound has no other limit than the absence of all other characteristics you deprive it of as soon as you dress it into a direct shape and form. Meshuggah cast a vote on ultralowfrequency 8 stringed cosmic abomination reality corruptor rumble-guitars because these monstrosities, along with the battle cruiser bass and Tom Haake's avalanche drum, are sound like they MEAN their shit, you now? After all, a sound is "just" a feeling and "just" a thought, and these are the Sacred Maximum a band can operate with and a listener can soak her/his soul into. I personally think that Meshuggah, as hive-entity, has arrived to a point on which they have a flawless grasp of the primer components that are manifesting the raw wildspace charisma their music doubtless embodies. The "suction effect" is a new addition among these, or, at least, it sounds new to me to reveal it in such a pronounced and thrilling manner. Think of a mini portable black hole with an ON and OFF state, that you can turn ON for a fraction of a second, then you turn it OFF. Or think of that silly bathroom game, when you sit in a bath tube, pull the plug out and wait around until the vortex shows up. You know the whirlpool, right? Do you often place your palm on it to experience the suction power of the vortex? Do that, it is fun. The same feeling is incorporated into this music, sonically.

 As for direct examples of this new percept, check the anatomy of the riff in "Break Those Bones", the black hole suction note - the entire riff is ONE brilliantly placed note - is situated in the fabric of time in such a way that the riff reigns both as a driving force and as a stop in the flow. A truly special musical experience that is out to crush you with no concept of doubt in its driving thought, and, once you saw it, you are crushed indeed. The HORROR! The MADNESS!  By the way, here is something extra I have noticed, and I'd like to know your impression of it. Did you notice how the track "ObZen" features a verse and a subsequent hook that are super-similar in CHARACTER to the flow of "Break Those Bones"?

Meshuggah paints non euclidean sonic geometries and they make them move in countless dimensions, and the sight, the feeling is nothing short of magical. You see these beautifully deformed-, yet cosmically diligent patterns that make you feel intrigued to adept your awareness to them enough to manage to grasp them. You instinctively know that there is a way to hop unto these shapes to see where they take you to, and you equally enjoy if they drop you off as much as you do when you have learned their orderly chaotic character. To me, a Meshuggah song is a cosmic abomination rampant-unalloyed that thinks this exact same thing about me when we spend time together. This album is as honest, as thrilling and profoundly intricate in mere character as music can get. In this regard, as miserable music critic and djent aficionado, I have no other obligation to fulfill than to declare this contribution an immediate-, flawless masterpiece and a privilege to be subjected to starting from 2012 to eternity.

Rating : 10 / 10

Reviews with thorough Meshuggah connotations, IF you are curious of them :
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks review

GyZ at Bandcamp.

If you want, check out my music

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Buy me beer.


  1. Replies
    1. And in case that doesn't belong to the early 90's stuff you have checked out, the one LP by them you would not want to miss out on is 'Destroy Erase Improve'. The re-release is okay, but I personally like the dry sound of the first edition much better.

  2. Thanks for the recc'. I have the release you are talking about, - a new info that there is a remasta' as well, thanks for the side-tip - but I did not check it out yet. I think it always is nice to know that one has some high definition music in the vicinity ready to be jumped into at one's leisure. I'm looking forward to the "Destroy Erase Improve" stimuli with heavy duty enthusiasm, - same goes to pretty much anything they have done - as I became a total Meshuggah fangirl the moment I've heard this band two months ago or so. So visceral, elemental, crushing AND playful.

  3. Yeah if you like this album, and miss the intensity of the last one, DEFINITELY give Chaosphere a listen. Meshuggah slowed down a lot for this album (and for Nothing and Catch 33) but the blinding pace of Chaosphere is amazing once you pick up on the time sigs and whatnot. Similarly to Destroy Erase Improve, although I feel Chaosphere has a more cohesive and mature sound imho. But honestly I would give ALL their albums a try, each has an awesome different sound but still all are clearly Meshuggah...... save contradictions collapse haha but it's still a cool album.

    also the "I" ep was basically the style of catch 33 with the sound and speed of Obzen. some good shit right thurrrrrr

  4. I think the slower tempo is kind of necessary to give these "multitime" patterns enough space to reveal themselves thoroughly in. I think Koloss is intense as a cobra on amphetamine, and can't wait to check out Chaosphere and everything else from them. I've got a whoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooole lot of Meshuggah to be immersed in. Thanks for your comment, dudette!!


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