There is an old saying: “Often imitated, but never equalled”. This could not be more accurate for Meshuggah, the true godfathers of what we call ‘Djent’. While many djent bands such as Tesseract and Periphery often try to recreate the sounds that Meshuggah created long before, somehow Meshuggah keep on rewriting the rulebook on how technical a band can go with polyrhythms and palm-muted chords, something for which they’ve done for the past 25 years.
‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’ is the band’s eighth offering and shows the band taking their signature sounds and repeatedly ups the ante with each release, and the opening track, the seven-minute ‘Clockworks’ is pretty much a clinic of what has made the band stand out more than others: Insane technical riffs, solos that sounds like they’ve come from another dimension and of course, the incomparable octopus-like drumming of Tomas Haake. The title track is another fine example of just how immaculate and syncopated they can be, and just toys the listener in a claustrophobic, but clever manner. You’ll be mesmerized by how much more you can discover from this track with each listen. Once again, guitarists Mårten Hagström and Fredrick Thordendal provide us with a master class in polyrhythmic rhythm and lead guitar work, just like they do throughout this album.
Not all the songs on this album are full of technical insanity, with ‘By The Ton’ and ‘Born in Dissonance’ showing a more traditional and straightforward side to the band’s sound, while ‘MonstoCity’ has a rather accessible feel to it, and it results in creating a fine balance in keeping things traditional and maintaining an experimental underlining. ‘Ivory Tower’ is a perfect split between the straightforward and the technical sides of Meshuggah, while ’Stifled’ marks they first time on this album that they present their gentle side, with an ambient finale which when you hear the punishing ‘Nostrum’, feels like the calm before the storm. The riffs on ‘Our Rage Won’t Die’ isn’t too far away from the thrash metal sounds of the band’s beginnings, before ‘Into Decay’ ends the album on a slower note but still provides us with magnificence and malevolence that was ever-present on the preceding nine tracks.
Although to some, it may lack in surprises, but what makes this album unique is that the band recorded this live, with no overdubs or additional recording techniques, which makes the overall sound on these ten tracks feel natural and organic, and truly captures the spirit, the energy and the essence of Meshuggah in a live setting. This is probably their most versatile and intense album to date and it continues their aggressive musical trademark that repeatedly feels like a punch in the face. While the idea of ‘djent’ almost feels clichéd at times, and while many more bands can try to match what Meshuggah have created over the past two-and-a-half decades, these five Swedes have proven that once again, thanks to their continuously evolving compositions, they stand far above their competition.
2. Born In Dissonance
4. By The Ton
5. The Violent Sleep Of Reason
6. Ivory Tower
9. Our Rage Won’t Die
10. Into Decay
Meshuggah ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’ line-up:
Jens Kidman – Lead vocals
Fredrik Thordendal – Lead guitar
Mårten Hagström – Rhythm guitar
Dick Lövgren – Bass
Tomas Haake – Drums