Meshuggah

Koloss

01. I Am Colossus
02. The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance
03. Do Not Look Down
04. Behind The Sun
05. The Hurt That Finds You First
06. Marrow
07. Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion
08. Swarm
09. Demiurge
10. The Last Vigil

[03/26/12]
[Nuclear Blast Records]

“I’m the great leviathan; the insatiable colossus.”

A more fitting opening could not have been found for the year’s most highly anticipated record. Few bands are as important to the current state of extreme metal as Meshuggah. Their influence has exploded since 2008’s ObZen, with legions of bands catching onto their elastic guitar tone and complex syncopated rhythms. Devin Townsend said it best during ‘Planet of the Apes’ from Deconstruction: “While we all have lots of bands who influence still, we all rip off Meshuggah!” This has unfortunately lead some to question the band’s relevancy; how can Meshuggah stay interesting when the sound they pioneered is being done by everyone with Pod Farm and a 7-string? Are they forced to adapt and change their sound, or do they stick to their guns and refuse to give a shit either way?

Koloss is a record that somehow manages to do both of these while maintaining forward motion. The mechanical and almost industrial aesthetic of their prior work has evidently fallen to the wayside in favor of something much more organic. Koloss feels like it could be the product of intense face-to-face songwriting, seemingly relying on jam sessions with real amps and live instruments instead of digital processing and programming. If you listen carefully, you can hear the attack of picks scraping off strings and may even notice an almost hardcore punk-like disregard for getting every single note perfectly on time. It’s all very subtle, but the little things add up.

The band have also slowed themselves down considerably. The cocksure opener ‘I Am Colossus‘ makes that evident right away, with its slow-churning and staggering palm muted chugging. That isn’t to say that Koloss is without the expected torrent of urgency; in fact, the very next track ‘The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance‘ ups the tempo and tracks ‘The Hurt That Finds You First‘ and ‘Marrow’ both lay waste with their intense energy — however, as a whole, Koloss creeps by in more sluggish grooves.

Koloss also dials back the technical aspects of the signature Meshuggah sound. Obviously, all of the weird timings and rhythmic displacement are still in abundance, but there’s nothing on Koloss that even comes close to approaching ‘Bleed’ levels of arm-wrenching pain. Compared to their past discography, Koloss does seem less complex, but Meshuggah on their most laid-back record in years can still give their contemporaries a run for their money.

All of these little tweaks to the Meshuggah formula add up to something quite significant. When you consider this comparatively raw and almost lethargic environment in which Koloss thrives, and pair it with Meshuggah’s penchant for syncopation, complex rhythms, and atmospheric leads, you get an album that feels almost tribal in nature. Koloss is a very psychedelic album, which is exemplified by the appropriate cover art that captures the album’s aesthetic in just about every facet. The overall tone of Koloss would feel right at home in the NOLA sludge metal scene if it weren’t for its overtly technical aspects. It would not surprise me in the least if technical sludge metal became the ‘it’ genre of the next decade because of Koloss‘ intricate blueprint.

Despite Koloss‘ many nuances that make it a forward progression and a unique entry into the already impressive Meshuggah catalogue, this is still very much an album that retains the core sound that the band has established over the last twenty years. Meshuggah are unmistakable; Kidman’s gravely barks, Thordendal’s trippy leads, and the abstract rhythmic trio of Haake, Lövgren, and Hagström are as tight as ever and perform with aplomb. As with any Meshuggah release, Koloss is a dense record that is a challenge to listen to in its own right. There’s no doubt that Koloss will be a divisive album, but it also contains some of the band’s best recorded material within its depths.

Meshuggah – Koloss gets…

4.5/5

– JR

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P68fmKQJ-6g]

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.