By Raymond Westland
Meshuggah is one of the most influencial outfits in metal today. Almost every younger band active in the progressive and technical metal and –core branches owes at least something to these visionary Swedes. obZen, the last official studio album, saw its release back in 2008, so let’s see whether Haake and Co still got their chops after four years of absence…
Koloss, their latest offering, certainly lives up to its name. It’s as heavy and dense as one would expect from Meshuggah. However, there’s a sense of looseness I haven’t experienced before on any of the previous albums. Koloss isn’t as clinically perfect as its famed prodecessor, nor does it have the frantic energy of Destroy Erase Improve (1995) or Chaosphere (1998). It does continue the band’s collective desire for more straightforward songs with a groove orientated approach. This is aptly demonstrated on “Do Not Look Down”, “Marrow” and “Swarm”.
Meshuggah isn’t afraid to show a more melodic side of them either. “The Hurt That Finds You”, “Behind The Sun” and “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” are great examples in that regard. These tracks work perfectly in tandem with the true heavyweights on this album, namely “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance”, “I Am Colossus” and “Demiurge”. The synergy created between those tracks adds a whole new dimension to Koloss. This is exactly what sets Meshuggah apart from the rest.
“The Last Vigil”, the album’s closing track, will probably raise some eyebrows here and there. In essence it’s a melodic soundscape which gives me the feeling of coming down after a very intense and nightmarish acid trip. I still don’t know what to make of it.
The band’s true pioneering days may be over, they still manage to deliver the goods on Koloss. The songwriting is impeccable and the album still contains new elements to keep things fresh and exciting. Bands like Textures, Periphery and Animals As Leaders may haven taken things to the next level, but its on the shoulders of current and past Meshuggah that these bands stand.