Album Review: Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason

Album Review: Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason

Life is a series of largely unconnected events punctuated by Gojira and Meshuggah releases. The new Meshuggah album, ’The Violent Sleep of Reason’ is a milestone as it is a return to the thick, heady groove that propelled the Swedish juggernaut to awesomeness. In their 30th year we have a return to the ‘traditional’ recording mix that implies the vastness of the band’s music. This comes after a few previous releases that sounded too perfect and, frankly, timid in comparison in their composition and mix when compared to, ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’. This album is going to give the next major tour a new set of artillery to unleash on audiences.

So, the eighth, full length-studio album is a return to the power that catapulted Meshuggah to stages around the world. It all starts with yet another blinding album cover that looks like a mechanised Montezuma. If you are lucky enough to get this on vinyl it’s a double album with a sound that’s best classed as demonic. There is also the coloured vinyl through Nuclear Blast and it’s a good option if you are flush with funds at the moment although, given this is Meshuggah, you might want to delay paying the rent and get this. Not an instruction, just an option.

There’s an energy and vibrancy in this mix that comes from its raw imperfections. ‘Clockworks’ begins a seven minute descent into this album. About four minutes in it all decays into chaos; dark and dank. This is the form that runs throughout this recording. It is the sound known as, ‘Djent’, that muted and constrained, distorted riff that took progressive metal off on a tangent. This highly structured, rhythmic riffing was once described to me by one of its exponents as the, ‘the Morse code of metal’ and it’s all on show here it its mathematical, tuned down guitar grunt. The good news is that it might be technical and geometric but it’s all natural.

By track five we get the title track and it’s again a ruthless ride. At another seven minutes it has an outro that is from the pits of hell. It sounds like it has been recorded with all of the band in the studio together at the same time. You can here every stroke and every movement. The drums are all powerful, cutting through the layers of guitar grunts and shrieks. Even the feedback howl at the end of the track is a masterstroke.

Our Rage Won’t Die’, is the penultimate track on the album and it’s probably one of the most upbeat. I could see this opening a gig as it’s an immense grind fest. There is a groove through this that could be used for fracking. The drop-tuned madness starts about half way through and I would strongly suggest that you duct-tape your speakers in place as this is a berserk riff. It’s cinematic in its vision and monstrous in the mix. The album closes with, ‘Into Decay’ and the tuning has dropped to seismic levels, heavily distorted and mind bending. This is probably the most ‘progressive’ track on the album because it’s a fearless and over the top display by a band comfortable in who and what they are. It’s a summary of what Meshuggah and their thirty year journey is all about.

This isn’t a Koloss or an obZen, but it’s all Meshuggah. I could write pages on this monster but get it and get amongst it. On vinyl and cranked to eleven you’ll get to know your neighbours very quickly. In a media world consumed by pigeon-holing bands and sounds, file this one under M for Meshuggah as they are ambivalent to any category.

Review: Craig Grant

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