My Meshugguah “Koloss” Review!

Happy New Meshuggah Day!!! This rare event comes once a decade (…ish), so savor it as much as you can. This band has never, ever once disappointed me, and the trend continues with the massive Koloss. This album seems to capture the vibe of past Mesh delight (especially in the forms of Obzen, Nothing, I, and Chaosphere), while still bringing new elements and UNREAL production into the mix. The guitar tone in particular is mind-numbingly great. I have listened through the album once in my car, and i will be writing this song-by-song review while listening to the album on Grado headphones and drinking screwdrivers. GO!

I Am Colossus: A lumbering giant of an opener! Prepares you for the impending bleakness within. It took me hitting the 2 minute mark before i realized that the main riff wasn’t hitting on the quarter notes! It seems like this is all based around some kind of hemiola feel (2:3). The “3” is the dominant rhythm, but the riffs fool you into thinking the “2” is. Crazy. Makes that riff around 2 minutes in seem even crazier. Sounds like the solo has some fretless guitar action, a Meshuggah first! Overall, i would say this song has elements of Nothing and Obzen in it. Holy god the guitar tone is epic.

The Demon’s Name is Surveillance: At first this song strikes me as “Bleed part 2”, but any Meshuggah song based around an open Eb note is going to sound like that to me after having heard Bleed as many times as i have. This one will take me a while to figure out… Thomas is rocking a LOT more straight double bass work than i’m used to hearing. It makes me smile simply because it sounds so awesomely metal. It’s nice to hear a Meshuggah song that isn’t abusing that low F note like they’ve been in the habit of as of late. So far i think this is all playable on a 6 string, actually. Neat! And strangely, its no less heavy than the sub-baritone stuff they usually play. The solo in this one sounds like a fast-forwarded recording of when my Compaq would sign onto dial-up AOL… then it ends with a nice Chaosphere-esque sliding octave melody. Damn this guitar tone is KILLER! Its insanely tight and you can really hear every single note. Damn this song has a LOT of double bass.

Do Not Look Down: This song is nasty, NASTY groovy!!! The guitar tone on this one is the nicest so far. I don’t know if they’re using some kind of different tone, or maybe a different guitar/pickup, but this tone is incredible. It almost has that single coil-y parallel humbucker sound, but yet its SO fat and defined. Those high hats sound like they are right next to my ear! That is some of the best high hat tone i have ever heard. OH DAMN this solo!!!!!!!!!!! Never heard Fred play a solo like this. There are some RAUNCHY bends and definitely some pentatonic licks in there. Its so cool and so wrong and yet so right. Some kind of crazy Whammy stuff there at the end… This song is kinda Nothing-ish, only with the tempo sped up about 20 bpm. I dig it. The whole song has these angular grooves that drive the beat in so many different ways…. Awesome lyrics in this one. Jens is sounding absolutely sick. How this guy even has a throat after all these years is beyond me.

Behind the Sun: Firstly, this song was written by Jens (the vocalist), which i find freaking awesome. This is my second time listening through this album, and this song is still crushing my face. I cannot even comprehend or express to you how heavy this song is. I feel like i’m being buried by the weight of the entire galaxy. Again, that TONE……… DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!!! This song is so incredibly bleak and emotionless. When those first double bass blasts kick in, my jaw dropped…. then over the next few parts, my jaw dropped further………. this song it just unreal. I also real love how it lacks any real structure! I’ve gotten a little critical that the post-Nothing era Meshuggah has gotten a little verse/chorus-y (with a few detours, such as Dancers to a Discordant System, Pravus, and Nebulous), so this song is has a really fresh feel to me. Every riff evolves into something more sinister than what preceded it. Incredible song, probably the best on the album.

The Hurt That Finds You First: LONG title hahahaha…. the snare goes “POP POP POP POP POP POP POP….” awesome thrashy goodness! This one has a good mix of low notes and higher stuff in it. This album is showing a lot of range in the range of the 8 string guitars. Thomas’ playing on this song is pretty viscous, that snare tone is killer. There is a high, mocking guitar riff around 1:30 that sticks around long enough to get a little irritating (in a good way!) before the lower power chord riff after that crushes you, then the even lower single note riff after that turns your bones into powder. This is truly excellent use of the extended range guitar! Love that guitar/snare unison part about 3 minutes in. The song turns from thrashy speed to something extremely sinister and strange after that! I feel like i’m in the Temple of Doom. About 4 minutes in is about the most evil thing i have ever heard. This section sounds so dark an alien i hardly know how to take it. Then it cuts out to just the two note melody…. then those tribal drums come back with that wonderful high hat… i was expecting the song to bust in hard and SLAM that riff out hard, but instead it just wanders off on that alien tribal feel. At first i was a little let down that i didn’t get that final blast of brutality i expected, but then i realized that it would have been just that; EXPECTED! Leaving on a quiet note such as they did is so unsettling and unresolved that it leaves a stronger impact than if they would have gone with the obvious and ended heavy. Kudos for taking a surprising turn here. VERY interesting song.

Marrow: One of my favorites! That first riff is so trashy. Verse is a little Obzen-y, but again, so trashy. Those slides kill me. I love the way the snare interacts with the guitar part in this one. The unexpected acceleration of those slides REALLY brings the intensity of the riffs up. Classic Fred solo (i.e. randomized tapping that sounds awesome). The tone is something new for him, though, its further away from the Holdsworthy thing he usually goes towards. The riff after the solo is AMAZINGLY heavy!! Then the solo/riff after that is so rhythmically NUTS (on both accounts) that it blows my mind. Holy crap that section is insanely badass. That must have taken forever to plan out. Then we’re back to that ass-stomping riff and then more slides again. Nice! After Jens says “Marrooooooow” i expected the song to end, then i got my ass stomped into the ground. That riff is so simple that i would never think to write it. But damn is it effective.

Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave it Motion: WHEW long song title…the melody at the first is interesting, as is the fact that you can hear the pick so audibly “chriping” against the strings. It sounds like a perfect unison octave against the first note, then a minor 2nd above the second note. Very subtle and eerie. Next riff is very Obzen. I understand that this song was written during the Obzen period, so that makes sense. The way the verse goes into that chorus riff feels nice! God that tone…. this sounds incredible. I want them to re-re-record Nothing with this tone. And Obzen, too. And probably Catch 33 and I, too. Sweet evil tom and bass work over the octave solo. Not often the rhythm guitars in a Meshuggah song drop out, but it does add some nice contrast. I really like hearing Tomas’ quarter note foot on the high hat throughout the song. Overall this song is awesome, but maybe the least interesting one on the album.

Swarm: sweet creepy intro.The rhythm tone on this one sounds similar to Do Not Look Down, it’s got that almost tubey, single coil sound i love so much! Oh man, that second riff with the riff octaves… its all so percussive. All these riffs are almost more like tabla parts than guitar parts. 2:38 in, this punchy low riff with the loooong bends is amazing!  This is a really wacky solo, sounds double tracked and panned hard left/right. Neither side is doing the exact same thing, it sounds really really weird… but i like it! The guitar parts on here have a few moments of noise/accidental harmonics in them. I think its really cool that they left these little artifacts in there rather than going back and re-recording them with a “perfect” take. This is an interesting, bleak song.

Demiurge: Sweet weird intro, again!  Sounds like a Whammy with a bunch of other crazy stuff over the top of it. Probably the most straightforward Meshuggah riff ever, but MAN it slams. This song has an almost hypnotic groove to it. The riff 2:30 in is too freaking cool. Again, awesome division of low notes and high notes. I think Meshuggah is really getting used to the idea that they can sound phenomenally heavy using high notes as opposed to droney, low stuff all the time. I like it. The riff about 4:25 in is just crushing. Such a hard groove, i have a hard time NOT nodding my head to this one. Very creepy stuff around 5:30 in that MUST be heard on headphones to be appreciated. 

The Last Vigil: This is kind of a cool down/breather after the intensity of the album. This track utilizes one of my favorite elements in music… i can’t exactly tell you what it is, because it doesn’t really have a name. Its that feeling you get when you hear something and don’t know what emotion to feel. It isn’t happy, it isn’t sad…. it isn’t angry, but it isn’t pretty. It this strange, emotionless, bleak sound. Meshuggah is the band that epitomizes this feel to me (especially on Catch 33!!! The very end of the album is the epitome of this sound). My band Arc touched on this feel a few times, as did my previous band Human Fuse… Opeth does it every now and then, although their stuff just usually sounds sad to me. Allan Holdsworth has some moments that capture this feel, as does the newest Animals as Leaders. This song is so simple and repetitive. I want to say its soothing, but it really isn’t. Nice closer.

Overall, the Meshuggah guys do not let me down. This album is crushing. Great songwriting, amazing production. A little old stuff, a little new stuff. They are making a slow evolution to their sound; i’m not going to say that it is a quantum leap from their Obzen sound or anything, but they’ve introduced new elements and re-introduced old elements into their sound to keep things fresh. As always, i cannot wait to hear what they will do next. This is a band that i will always be happy to hear new things from. Grade A stuff from the masters!

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~ by ben eller guitars on 03/28/2012.

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