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Meshuggah – Koloss

by Phillip Lawless at 12 April 2012, 3:37 PM

When I think about MESHUGGAH, my mind always goes back to the “Chaosphere” era of the band. I walked into a SLAYER show having no idea that MESHUGGAH, this group of groove-driven Swedes, even existed. Yet, two hours later, I was a completely converted disciple. Thus, every time I listen to a new MESHUGGAH album, I always find myself comparing it to some of their earliest works.

As an opener, “I Am Colossus” initially feels like a bit of a letdown. But, digging deeper, it seems this mid-paced crawler is really meant as a lyrical introduction of the album’s central concept. Perhaps the mid-pace tempo and simplistic feel of the song are meant to push all of the focus onto Kidman’s impressive vocal performance and descriptive lyrics. “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” picks up the festivities a bit with a frantic guitar part and methodical drumming. Here, echoes of “Destroy Erase Improve” can definitely be heard. While the tempo of the song is actually quite subdued, it’s amazing how much intensity the band pushes into the track with busy fretwork and kick-drum gymnastics. With “Do Not Look Down”, it’s easy to hear that this is the band at their most comfortable. The deliberate tempo, catchy but complicated guitar part and solid, gruff vocals make this song solid as stone.

At six minutes long, “Behind the Sun” is a bit of a crawler. The more laid back tune begins with a moody guitar part, and mostly lopes from start to finish. There is something of a breakdown around the middle of the track that shows a slight crescendo. Still, musical atmospherics and lyrical clarity take the place of complicated intensity here. “The Hurt That Finds You First” revs up the engines again with a ripping Thrash drumbeat that lasts for the first half of the song. Here, it’s interesting how guitarists Thordenthal and Hagström interact with the speedy tempo by not quite playing along as a listener may expect. Yet, from the frenzied opening, the song slows for the final minute and a half – there’s almost no drumming with a chunk riff and a light guitar part. “Marrow” brings a little Nu-Metal bounce to the party, but the song features one of the most alien and off-kilter guitar solos I’ve ever heard. Interesting.

“Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave it Motion” is the longest song with the longest title on the album, and it’s a bit of a bore to me. Here I find myself really wishing for a taste of MESHUGGAH’s old-school intensity. “Swarm” shows a bit of gumption with a busy riff and changing drum beats. There’s even some small build up as the song progresses. Even so, the pace seems to have slowed a good bit during this final sequence of the album. Finally, there’s a bit of ferocity with “Demiurge”. The stomping riff is completely locked in with the drumming here: it’s interesting but gets a tad repetitive. The song also opens up a bit towards the middle. Closer “The Last Vigil” is an all-guitar instrumental that’s full of PINK FLOYD space vibes.

All in all, “Koloss” is a respectable album from a widely-heralded band. To me, it seems the second half of the album slows and finally stalls, but there were enough flashes of the crushing MESHUGGAH of old to keep me mostly satisfied.

4 Star Rating

1. I Am Colossus
2. The Demon’s Name is Surveillance
3. Do Not Look Down
4. Behind the Sun
5. The Hurt That Finds You First
6. Marrow
7. Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave it Motion
8. Swarm
9. Demiurge
10. The Last Vigil
Jens Kidman – Vocals
Marten Hagström – Guitar
Fredrik Thordenthal – Guitar
Dick Lövgren – Bass
Tomas Haake – Drums, voice
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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