Album Review: Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason (2016)

26 Oct

meshuggah-the-violent-sleep-of-reason-artwork-750x750

9/10

One of the most anticipated releases of the year, Swedish colossus Meshuggah return with monolithic new album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, chock full of groovy riffs and such an intense, relentless atmosphere. For a band going into their 30th year(!) they have staved off any hint of stagnation and produced an absolute belter.

For this, the bands eighth full-length album (excluding EPs), Meshuggah seem to be time travelling back to their beginnings. Not only was this album tracked live in the studio, it also marks the first appearance of proper live drumming on a Meshuggah album since possibly as far back as the original version of the Nothing album. *side note* the band had been using Drumkit From Hell samples exclusively (Catch 33) or augmenting Tomas Haake’s performances with these samples since then).

This has resulted in a more organic, less sterile sounding album and the most alive the band has sounded in ages. (bonus points for use of Alive pun). I would say that the music itself has become a little faster and perhaps a little less technical. In terms of the polyrhythms and the riffs, this is Meshuggah’s most straightforward album in a while. So let’s dig a little deeper.

“Clockworks” kicks off the record and it’s a bit of an overture to what has made the band so loved over time: brutal, technical riffs, Tomas Haake’s incredible drumming (how many arms does he have??), screaming guitar solos. It is also the albums longest song, clocking in at 7:15. “Born in Dissonance” and “MonstroCity” follow and they comprise of similar-sounding material as all three of the opening tracks seem to come off as ever so subtle variations on a theme. With those opening three songs, there is a heaviness and a speed which resembles the Chaosphere era.

There are then the songs that sound reminiscent of the Nothing days, “By the Ton” with it’s slower groove and “Stifled” that features a fantastic solo from Fredrik. In fact, Fredrik’s solos on this record are some of my favourites things about the album as a whole. He seems to have taken time and care over these solos and they never feel out of place, or a bit slapdash (looking at you Koloss)

“Ivory Tower” is mostly a slow groove with a block levelling guitar riff and again features a superb guitar solo. “Our Rage Won’t Die” opens up with a thrash riff that sounds like it could have been pulled from Contradictions Collapse and “Into Decay” rounds off the album as another slower groove song.

The last time I felt a Meshuggah album was this complete from start to finish was probably with I (though that was just a single 21 minute EP) or Catch 33 (2005) and The Violent Sleep of Reason should completely satisfy those fans already enamoured with the bands aggressive music and should surely attract more metal heads to fall in love with the art they create. Though if you could never “get” Meshuggah before, you probably won’t get them now to be honest.

For me, it’s a masterpiece.

 

David

 

 

 

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