Thursday, March 29, 2012

Meshuggah - Koloss (Nuclear Blast, 2012)

You know them, I know them, and hopefully we both love them or can at least acknowledge their legacy. If you don't tick any of those boxes, it's imperative to know that Sweden's Meshuggah are a household name in the realm of technical and/or math-metal. Since the 90s, the band has pedaled a variety of metal that redefined the principles of complexity in the genre. Rather than embellishing their ponderously calculated barrages with virtuous solos and triumphant melodies, Meshuggah have worn out their low-E's by way of atonal, mechanized chugging syncopating with Thomas Haake's extraordinary rhythmic dexterity.

In recent years, the aid of digital production has enhanced the depth of the band's tensely punctuated grooves. This has resulted in powerhouses such as the ambitious 13-part suite Catch Thirthythree and their best known ObZen. Their latest effort, as stated by Hakke, is meant to follow Meshuggah's ongoing trajectory of comparatively dissimilar undertakings in the face of its "Organic brutality, viscera and groove." In theory and on record, Koloss complements its precursor by the intense gymnastics employed in musical interaction.

Akin to the rapid-fire kick drum-guitar synchronicity of their hit "Bleed" is the interlocking instrumental pummel within "The Devil's Name Is Surveillance", a startling reminder of the consistency that spans the Meshuggah discography. Koloss approaches its first aberrant instance on "The Hurt That Finds You First" in which guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström utilize a higher register countered by enveloping gusts of low-end. The ensuing "Marrow" utilizes momentum by a pattern indecisive of its tempo, and the guitars' quasi-refrain seamlessly interacts with jarring slides.

Thus far, Koloss has been met with mixed reactions amongst fans from amazement to anticlimax, and both camps present valid arguments. Meshuggah's execution is unmatched, to an extent at which it seems singularly presented throughout the album, and Jens Kidman's raspy howl having settled into an unwavering pitch gives substance to the notion that the band may be milking it dry at 54 minutes. Despite this, "The Last Vigil" closes on an astounding note with an otherworldly guitar piece only slightly comparable to Catch Thirtythree's atmospheric passages. Koloss won't convert critics, but its potency is as towering as ever.

[Meshuggah Website]
[Buy Koloss from Nuclear Blast Records]

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