Friday, October 14, 2016

Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason (2016)

Ah, Meshuggah, the band from the northern Swedish city of Umeå, the effervescent entity that seems to be 5 steps ahead of the rest every time, the band who do not know what the word "simplicity" means. To say that these guys are unique is an understatement, there is simply no band like these masterminds. Every time I hear these guys, my thinking cap comes on, because it takes every bit of power from my brain cells to even comprehend everything that these guys present. So a real workout awaits every time a new album comes around.

"The Violent Sleep of Reason" is the title of the band's 8th studio effort, and it rides along on the same basic concepts that "Koloss" was based upon. To put it simply, it is violent, extreme, progressive, and colossal metal that hits you straight in the face with tons of force. One major difference though is that this album was recorded like a live show, which means that the band played it together, and not individually. It certainly feels more cohesive and organic, so I would say the change of approach here has been a successful one.

As per usual, it is the bass and the drums that is the driving force of Meshuggah, the engine to the vehicle. Dick Lövgren and Tomas Haake spits out these extremely technical and complicated beats like nothing, it is second nature for them, and it truly is their technicality that makes Meshuggah so mesmerizing and intriguing. At times, it is mind boggling how a regular human being can create these beats and rhythms without dislocating every possible joint in the body. The band chemistry has to be spot on for all of this to come together, and it certainly is.

The album starts off really strong with "Clockworks", a song that works just like its name. It is 7 minutes of heavy, technical goodness that never seems to end, creating some controlled madness that only Meshuggah can create. "Born In Dissonance" keeps the momentum going, with ultra heavy riffs that gets your groove on, and with its short play time of 4and a half minute, it is one of the catchier songs of the album. The great songs keeps on coming, with "Monstrocity" that goes up and down the scale in an amazing style, the title track that certainly uses the odd rhythms to its full advantage, and a "Stifled" that relies more on atmosphere and melodies than pure chugging (something that the band rarely does).

But while this album is diverse and extremely impressive in a lot of ways, it still feels kind of meh, especially when compared to earlier Meshuggah releases. To me, there are three things that drags this album down the drain. First off, there is not many parts from this album that is too memorable, probably because the riffs are kind of hollow most of the time. Second, the production is kind of a let down, not being as massive and grand as "Koloss", something this album might have needed for it to generate more power. Finally, the album is hard to get through because of its massive density. The songs are great, but put them together, and they make a massive block that needs determination to drill through. Do not get me wrong, this is a really cool album, it just has some flaws that keeps it from matching up with the band's impressive history.

While "The Violent Sleep of Reason" ends up as kind of a disappointment, it is still Meshuggah. This album is technical as it can be, and the band performs like highly advanced machines, perfect in sync with each other (which makes it even more impressive that this was recorded like a live show). The band stays firmly ahead of the curve, and while not being as innovative as before, they are still maintaining a position that most other bands only can dream of. So while I might enjoy albums like "Koloss", "Destroy Erase Improve", and "ObZen" much more than "The Violent Sleep of Reason", I will still do a Jens Kidman while listening to it. In other words, bring out my lower jaw, roll my eyes back to my skull, and bang my head to the infectious rhythm.

Songs worthy of recognition: Clockworks, Born In Dissonance, Monstrocity, Stifled

Rating: 7,5/10 Ivory Towers

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