Let me preface this by saying that the first person to comment “hurr durr djent is not a genre” is going to get forcibly bedded by the business end of a rake. No dinner, no candles, and no fucking Kenny G. The argument of genre/chord/sound comes up more often lately than racism in football, but the bottom line is that’s it’s a word. The function of a word is to convey meaning, and the word “djent” describes a genre to a lot of people, and thus the word’s purpose is served – no matter how hard you scream and kick your legs.
Last night we ‘broke’ the news that a brand new Meshuggah track had been ‘leaked’ – albeit intentionally – and although it happened late in Britain, the overnight evidence pointed to the internet simultaneously going nuts…and also being somewhat underwhelmed.
I could not have been less surprised on either count.
In the same way that Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin are now considered tame nowadays, and as the widely recognised progenitors of that sound, Meshuggah are in very serious and imminent danger of sliding into the very saturation and mediocrity that they spawned. Sacrilege, surely?!
Let’s look at the facts. By the time Koloss is released it will have been just over four years since Meshuggah last put out a record – 2008’s obZen. Unless you’ve been living under a five-ton lump of iron, you’ll know the ripple effect that this record in particualr, but all of their records really, have had on the progressive metal landscape; a landscape that has long been towered over by the monolithic bastion that are this Umeån quintet.
But in those four years there have been some changes. The seeds long sown have sprouted, and the skyline ain’t empty no more.We’ve had the rise of the Sevenstring.org forums, which in turn brought the likes of Misha Mansoor (Bulb), Acle Kahney (Fellsilent) and Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner) amongst others to the fore. Since then the former two have branched out or evolved into Periphery and TesseracT respectively, and beyond that we’ve had Animals As Leaders, Cloudkicker, Monuments, Vildjharta, Uneven Structure…the list goes on. There is a lot of merit to be found if you find enjoyment in this sort of metal – but as with every genre, there is also a lot of derivative cack.
You can’t deny that djent is the ‘it’ genre of the moment. Like deathcore and nu-metal before it, buying a seven-string guitar and doing a fair amount of chugging is the thing of the moment – especially as the movement is synonymous with the DIY bedroom approach, and so a lot of it doesn’t sound half bad, if not horrendously bland.
It’s only right, then, that as the generally recognised progenitors of the style – and even the word, which Frederik Thordendal originally used to describe the “elastic, syncopated guitar riff” with which they are synonymous – they are given due reverence. A large percentage of my colleagues, friends, and weirdos I meet at metal gigs understand their importance, if not outright hero-worship them, so the excitable reaction to the new track ‘Break These Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion‘ was not exactly unpredictable.
Amongst the praise, however, were murmurs of discontent. Now bear in mind that I am unable to differentiate between existing naysayers and those genuinely turned off by the slower, more methodical sound displayed, but not everyone was impressed. One voice said it sounded like “a more boring Vildhjarta without all the cool things they do.” Another said “it’s alright? I mean…what exactly is so revolutionary about this? Or is it just because it falls under the Meshuggah brand?”
Obviously it would be incredibly naive of me to call the end of Meshuggah or decry the entirety of Koloss before I’ve even heard it based on this minority reaction, but it does make me wonder: with all this djent djenting djentily all over the djenting place the damn time, is there much left for them to do? I have a feeling that their knack for pummelling riffs, unrelenting and highly technical drumming, and the presence of the undeniably iconic Jens Kidman will shine through, but I don’t think it’s as inevitable as everyone thinks.
I hope it’s awesome. I guess that come March 23rd we’ll all see. Hmm.
P.S. The first person to say thall gets their genitals sandpapered by The Flash.