Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason


Artist

Album

The Violent Sleep Of Reason

Label

Nuclear Blast Records

Year

2016

For Fans Of

Do I really need to fill this part in?

Summary

Meshuggah just being Meshuggah, really.

Rating

60 / 100

Saying that a Meshuggah album will have polyrhythms, tight grooves and generally be heavy as all fuck is like saying that the sun will rise tomorrow; it just goes without saying! Now, while I enjoy these Swedish legends as much as the next person, there exists a set of universal truths that come attached to a Meshuggah record.

Below is a list of said truths that I prepared earlier:

  • Typically lengthy songs where the welcome almost wears out.

  • A strong emphasis on heavy, low-tuned guitar riffs.

  • Ridiculously tight, syncopated drumming that would make Beat Detective jealous.

  • Jens Kidman’s harsh but monotone screams giving life to drummer Thomas Haake’s lyrics.

  • Repetition. Lots and lots and lots of repetition.

  • Each instrument, vocals included, acting as a punishing rhythmic device.

And all of that is exactly the case with their eighth album, ‘The Violent Sleep Of Reason‘ (which is a sick name for a metal album, I must say) and boy, it really does feel like the eighth Meshuggah album. By that, I mean that the Swedish outfit’s sound has now come to a musical and artistic state of stagnation; that this is just more of the same. While I really dig the intensive, extreme nature of their music, Meshuggah hasn’t developed their music further in any new or unexpected capacity with this new record.

But an argument often brought forward about ol’ Shuggah from critics and their legions of followers, especially with this most recent record coming out, is that the band doesn’t need to change because they helped pioneer this sound; that they’ve already mastered their craft and are now just further fine tuning their extreme, punishing metal template. See, the problem there is that it shows a band that is capable of so much more simply re-coating a painting they finished and perfected years ago with apparently nothing new to offer now. (And no, Haake’s lyrical focus on religious extremism here doesn’t warrant variation because Kidman’s vocal style, the format in which these lyrics are delivered, has barely changed; much like many of the band’s other elements).

However, despite the group lightly beating a near-dead horse at this point, this is still a decent record, even if it is just another Meshuggah record. They are still perfectly capable of creating powerfully driving, pummeling rhythms and intense and truly heavy soundscapes that still allow for their albums to be an enjoyable ride. Also, with a new release every three or four years at this time in Meshuggah’s career, the pounding, near-relentless nature of their songs are given room to breathe and time to settle in amongst ears the world over. Plus, I can also commend them for still not giving an ounce of a fuck and doing what they do best.

But Meshuggah’s best is showing its cracks now and these cracks first appeared on 2012’s decent effort, ‘Koloss‘. Yet interestingly enough, that album also featured one of the band’s most diverse song in years – ‘The last Vigil‘. That was a four and a half minute ambient guitar track that was void of any percussion, distortion, and screaming. It was a fitting end to that record, providing some much-needed serenity after the preceding fifty minutes of chaos. Yet nothing like that is found in here.

From the quick hi-hat count in of the monotonous seven-minute album opener ‘Clockworks‘ up until the truly heavy, sub-destroying track that is ‘Into Decay‘; ‘The Violent Sleep Of Reason‘ is a solid but vastly familiar and repetitive affair. Which brings me back to a point I made in that earlier list; these guys really are the masters of repetition. And man, this album will just crush you and your soul into the ground with its immense repetition, just not in the same engaging, magical way that Meshuggah’s earlier records like ‘Nothing‘, ‘Chaosphere‘ or ‘obZen‘ did, back when things were still minty fresh.

I mean, aside from Meshuggah’s odd guitar solo here (like on ‘Clockworks‘, ‘Nostrum‘, or ‘MonstroCity‘, which is easily the best solo on the whole album), some brief atmospheric or melodic guitars lines (end of ‘Stifled‘/beginning of ‘Nostrum‘) and the slightly higher, raspier pitch on Kidman’s vocals that pop up briefly on the eponymous track; there is next to no other variation found within ‘The Violent Sleep Of Reason‘.

Finally, as has been well documented, unlike a majority of their discography, the group stepped away from their computers and recorded this album live with all five members present. But while the production and tracking process may have changed, the initial songwriting and musical ideas behind this process have barely budged. Yes, this process has indeed breathed some new, rather subtle sonic life into their sound, it’s just nowhere near enough to make it the kind of landmark release that Meshuggah is indeed capable of, sadly.

Conclusion

So, as Meshuggah have easily one of the most repetitive albums of 2016, here’s a repeat of the above review. Cheers! 

Saying that a Meshuggah album will have polyrhythms, tight grooves and generally be heavy as all fuck is like saying that the sun will rise tomorrow; it just goes without saying! Now, while I enjoy these Swedish legends as much as the next person, there exists a set of universal truths that come attached to a Meshuggah record.

Below is a list of said truths that I prepared earlier:

  • Typically lengthy songs where the welcome almost wears out.

  • A strong emphasis on heavy, low-tuned guitar riffs.

  • Ridiculously tight, syncopated drumming that would make Beat Detective jealous.

  • Jens Kidman’s harsh but monotone screams giving life to drummer Thomas Haake’s lyrics.

  • Repetition. Lots and lots and lots of repetition.

  • Each instrument, vocals included, acting as a punishing rhythmic device.

And all of that is exactly the case with their eighth album, ‘The Violent Sleep Of Reason‘ (which is a sick name for a metal album, I must say) and boy, it really does feel like the eighth Meshuggah album. By that, I mean that the Swedish outfit’s sound has now come to a musical and artistic state of stagnation; that this is just more of the same. While I really dig the intensive, extreme nature of their music, Meshuggah hasn’t developed their music further in any new or unexpected capacity with this new record.

But an argument often brought forward about ol’ Shuggah from critics and their legions of followers, especially with this most recent record coming out, is that the band doesn’t need to change because they helped pioneer this sound; that they’ve already mastered their craft and are now just further fine tuning their extreme, punishing metal template. See, the problem there is that it shows a band that is capable of so much more simply re-coating a painting they finished and perfected years ago with apparently nothing new to offer now. (And no, Haake’s lyrical focus on religious extremism here doesn’t warrant variation because Kidman’s vocal style, the format in which these lyrics are delivered, has barely changed; much like many of the band’s other elements).

However, despite the group lightly beating a near-dead horse at this point, this is still a decent record, even if it is just another Meshuggah record. They are still perfectly capable of creating powerfully driving, pummeling rhythms and intense and truly heavy soundscapes that still allow for their albums to be an enjoyable ride. Also, with a new release every three or four years at this time in Meshuggah’s career, the pounding, near-relentless nature of their songs are given room to breathe and time to settle in amongst ears the world over. Plus, I can also commend them for still not giving an ounce of a fuck and doing what they do best.

But Meshuggah’s best is showing its cracks now and these cracks first appeared on 2012’s decent effort, ‘Koloss‘. Yet interestingly enough, that album also featured one of the band’s most diverse song in years – ‘The last Vigil‘. That was a four and a half minute ambient guitar track that was void of any percussion, distortion, and screaming. It was a fitting end to that record, providing some much-needed serenity after the preceding fifty minutes of chaos. Yet nothing like that is found in here.

From the quick hi-hat count in of the monotonous seven-minute album opener ‘Clockworks‘ up until the truly heavy, sub-destroying track that is ‘Into Decay‘; ‘The Violent Sleep Of Reason‘ is a solid but vastly familiar and repetitive affair. Which brings me back to a point I made in that earlier list; these guys really are the masters of repetition. And man, this album will just crush you and your soul into the ground with its immense repetition, just not in the same engaging, magical way that Meshuggah’s earlier records like ‘Nothing‘, ‘Chaosphere‘ or ‘obZen‘ did, back when things were still minty fresh.

I mean, aside from Meshuggah’s odd guitar solo here (like on ‘Clockworks‘, ‘Nostrum‘, or ‘MonstroCity‘, which is easily the best solo on the whole album), some brief atmospheric or melodic guitars lines (end of ‘Stifled‘/beginning of ‘Nostrum‘) and the slightly higher, raspier pitch on Kidman’s vocals that pop up briefly on the eponymous track; there is next to no other variation found within ‘The Violent Sleep Of Reason‘.

Finally, as has been well documented, unlike a majority of their discography, the group stepped away from their computers and recorded this album live with all five members present. But while the production and tracking process may have changed, the initial songwriting and musical ideas behind this process have barely budged. Yes, this process has indeed breathed some new, rather subtle sonic life into their sound, it’s just nowhere near enough to make it the kind of landmark release that Meshuggah is indeed capable of, sadly.

Tracklisting

  1. Clockworks
  2. Born In Dissonance
  3. MonstroCity
  4. By The Ton
  5. Violent Sleep Of Reason
  6. Ivory Tower
  7. Stifled
  8. Nostrum
  9. Our Rage Won’t Die
  10. Into Decay

‘The Violent Sleep Of Reason’ is out now via Nuclear Blast Records and you already know what it sounds like. Also, a fun drinking game that you can play is to drink every time that I said ‘Meshuggah’ in this review. 

2 Responses to “Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason”

    • Alex Sievers Alex Sievers

      Wouldn’t go that high, but yes, this was far more organic sounding release and that was for the better. Shame that that was the only thing that really changed with their sound.

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