Complex polyrhythms. Harsh dissonance. Odd time signatures. Technical drumming. Heavy guitar. Harsh vocals. Brutal heaviness. Musically chaotic. Menacing sound. Experimental nature.
Chug: the Album.
I could go on about Meshuggah’s skill as musicians and how well they work their individual pieces together without creating a mess, despite the complexity of the polyrhythmic and syncopated nature of their music.
I could go on about how they’re pushing a genre forward whilst still retaining their own distinct style that has influenced, and continues to influence many bands, pointing to the throbbing heave of “Into Decay”, the angular-sounding groove of “Ivory Tower”, or the blunt force of “Nonstrum”.
I could crap on forever about how, at times, Meshuggah can be quite intense, as well as how the songs on this album flow well with each other.
I could talk about all of that, but what it ultimately comes down to is that The Violent Sleep of Reason is a solid collection of songs from a solid band, albeit one with a few minor problems.
Whilst the mix/master does make the album punchy at times, more often than not it makes the songs feel a bit flat.
To the compliment of whoever was in charge of this part, it doesn’t seem to cause any noticeable clipping/distortion.
However, there doesn’t seem to have been any perceivable benefit.
Meshuggah’s songs deserve a lot better than this. They should be allowed to breathe much more freely than what is heard here.
If there had been focus on fidelity and dynamics, it would be much easier to listen to what the band are doing with the rhythm of their songs, as well as perceive the intensity inherent in the music instead of the intensity of the overt loudness.
Despite Meshuggah recording everything together live, it doesn’t seem to add much to the album.
This may have to do with them choosing different parts of different takes to build the songs, rather than using a solid take of the whole band.
There is a bit of a more organic feel to the songs, but otherwise it doesn’t come off much like a live take.
It seems more like the band put their process for the previous few albums into a more live setting rather than adopoting a live approach outside of a token gesture.
In addition to these, unless I’m completely missing something about Jens Kidman using some sort of different form of rhythmic screaming than on prior releases, too often he is well above the rest of the band.
With that being said, he still gives a strong, consistent delivery and his voice has, at the least, not lost any of its power.
Whilst seemingly focusing on the more negative aspects of the album, as said before, The Violent Sleep of Reason is a solid collection of songs.
Their sound has progressed whilst retaining balance between their various elements.
For a band that is not content to rest on their laurels, they’ve now another release under their belt that will only serve to strengthen their catalogue.