2012 Nuclear Blast Records
I’ve been a longtime fan of this bunch of Swedish virtuosos going back to 1995’s Destroy Erase Improve. I’ve regarded the followup CD Chaosphere to be their best and have listened to it hundreds of time over and over while doing my geek work during the day. It’s as atmospheric as it is powerful and is like jazz to me (albeit jazz with a sledgehammer).
While I have every Meshuggah release and honestly like them all, 2005’s Catch Thirty-Three and 2008’s obZen (while being very well done) just didn’t resonate with me like their other releases. I decided that for my Abysmal ears, Chaosphere was their creative peak and I should just enjoy the fact that this is a band that will keep delivering solid releases for years to come.
Then came Koloss, the 2012 release that has basically reorganized the billions of cells in my brain. There’s no other band quite like Meshuggah, and they’re the very best of their genre as proven on Koloss. And Koloss just might be their very best album to date.
“I Am Colossus” kicks off the album in style and sets the tone for the entire disc. Dizzying and heart-palpitating rhythms are the order of the day with the remarkable Tomas Haake continuing to confound and amaze with his complex polyrhythms which the band hone into tight songcraft that really should be impossible. Seriously…that this music can even exist is testimony to the immense talent of the band.
Highlights of the album for me are “Marrow” with lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal’s jazzy Allan Holdsworth-isms working magic against a heavy and hypnotic backdrop, “Swarm” with my fave rhythmic barrage on the album, “Do Not Look Down” with its brutally (down)tuneful staccato riff and some brilliant lead work from Thordendal, and first ‘single’ “The Demon’s Name is Surveillance” whose rhythmic power was my first hint that Koloss was going to be a special album.
And it is…easily their best since Chaosphere and one that you can just put on and let ‘er play without skipping anything.
That the album comes to a close on an eerily beautiful and chill instrumental “The Last Vigil” is testimony to the band’s intelligence and use of dynamics and atmosphere. This album is a flat-out classic and a definite contender for Most Truly Abysmal Album of 2012.
A word of warning for the uninitiated: If you’re not into the heaviest side of metal and not of the mind to try it out, you’ll probably be turned off. Truth is, with music this extreme there’s a fine line between good and bad to the untrained ear. There’s plenty of crappy music that calls itself extreme metal…Meshuggah sets the bar for both power and quality. I can’t say that I like Koloss any better than my beloved Chaosphere, but I can’t say I like Chaosphere any better, either.
Rating: 5 out of 5