When Meshuggah makes music its time to pay attention, the Swedish Metal band are distinguished as the creators of the Djent guitar sound and single handedly expanding the horizon of extreme music with their elasticated polyrhythmic guitar playing and punishing guitar style. They have been a massive influence on a new generation of bands and with each record they seem to continue on a successful path. As genius as they are, Ive never considered them to much of an "album experience" band but the sort ill cherry pick songs from their catalog. 2008s "Obzen" was the last I fully enjoyed but even that beast took years to make sense of which can often be the case with their abrasive music.
With "The Violent Sleep Of Reason" the band have once again deconstructed their sound and reassembled it into a new craft that's hard to love and as always, pushing the intensity wherever it can. To make generalizations it feels as if the elasticity and momentum they once focused around has been contracted into smaller grooves as each song pummels through shorter mechanical riffs looping into abstraction. Its mostly not very charming, rigid and continually vicious but with repetition comes reward and as you become accustom to its nature the songs creak open. In this tone the aggression works but breaking to lengthy elasticated grooves like on "By The Ton" seem somewhat displaced and further elongated.
Putting my faith in the band, I can say these songs have only grown on me from a point of initial disappointment. It just has me wondering if these musical geniuses have misfired into the mundane or reached another plateau that's hard to comprehend. One things for sure Jens's vocals have become rather tiresome, his monotone, forceful screams where once fresh and exciting but they have stagnated over time. They sound as sharp and ripe as ever but its become entirely predictable and feels mostly like a distraction from the guitar and drum work. The guitars don't particularly reach a new heavy with the Djent tone but do take things a step further on the lead guitar front by abstracting inclusions of spontaneous guitar solo's and backing the rhythm with a little color in places. Some of the solo's are a little more conventional for the band and feel like a throwback to the 90s.
With many listens I certainly haven't unlocked its secrets but I am done with it for now, this has been a piece of work but as I write these words I'm confident It will grow on me with time. On a final note the band opted for a live performance recording and its very noticeable but hardly restricting of what the music can accomplish. If anything the rawness of it all can be appreciated as a factor contributing to the overall intensity. Its another whirlwind of spiraling aggression that has once again provided an intense challenge for listeners.
Favorite Tracks: Monstrocity, Ivory Tower, Nonstrum