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Album review: Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason


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If musical heaviness could be measured on a scale from 1 to 10, Meshuggah would score a solid 34.

Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason

For nearly twenty years, the Swedish five-piece has been pumping out some of the harshest, most complex compositions in metal, taking intricate polyrhythms and down-tuning them to hell until they feel like they are powerful enough to destroy buildings.

It’s a formula that’s earned Meshuggah critical acclaim for almost two decades, and with their upcoming eighth album – The Violent Sleep of Reason – they do absolutely anything but slow down.

This album is basically the physical manifestation of the term “juxtaposition”, because every word that can be used to describe it also has an antonym that would be just as fitting. For example, one of the defining features of Violent Sleep… seems to be that it is simultaneously progressive and, somehow, blindingly simple.

In the immortal words of Charlie Sheen, this record has “one speed, one gear: go!” It never once falters in its provision of hard, deep, mid-paced metal, keeping a consistent momentum throughout its near-hour-long run-time. The aggressive, deep, penetrating shouts of lead vocalist (and the man behind some of the best facial expressions in rock) Jens Kidman perfectly fit the pounding rhythms of drummer Tomas Haake and bassist Dick Lövgren and low, resonating guitar-work from Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström. In this way, it’s simple, unabashed metal with only one aim and one trajectory: to completely stun anyone in the immediate vicinity with just how powerful and guttural Meshuggah is.

Yet, the record is still progressive in its sheer technical, instrumental accuracy and avant-garde rhythms. Even though The Violent Sleep of Reason exists primarily as an exercise in face-melting, extreme metal with little deviation from the classic, powerful and proto-djent nature of Meshuggah, the experimentation the band indulges in with their rhythms still creates at least something of an air of unpredictability. It’s what lifts Meshuggah from the realm of standard extreme metal to the world of the risk-taking.

The power of the music as well as its technicality combine to make a truly pulse-pounding record that any intense metal fanatic needs to hear in 2016. Between this album, Alter Bridge’s The Last Hero, Take Over and Destroy’s self-titled record, Watchtower’s Concepts of Math EP and Sonata Arctica’s The Ninth Hour, the 7th October could very much prove to be the strongest day for heavy music this year.

The Violent Sleep of Reason will be available physically and digitally via Nuclear Blast Records on 7th October.

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