Listen Up: Wednesday, August 18, 2004
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Meshuggah

I (Fractured Transmitter Records)

By Justin Press

The bar has now been set into the stratosphere, and unless someone pulls a miracle out of his amps, Meshuggah will go down as having created the greatest and most twisted metal song of all time — 21 minutes long and not one wasted note, the album-length opus, I.

The song basically takes an entire album’s content and squashes it down into one concise, compressed masterpiece. Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal goes from detonating small barre-chord bombs to pounding out 500 mph rhythms to shredding solos built on Arabian motifs, while drummer Tomas Haake utilizes every ounce of wrist power to take his polyrhythmic chops into territories not even fathomed by computers. Vocalist Jens Kidman is limited to merely adding nuance to the brutality, but he does yeoman’s work.

The movement begins with a minute of drums rolls and a continuous riff that starts as mere build-up but soon becomes a mantra, and then the fun begins. Kidman lets the horses out of the gate with a scream (phased through a static box), his band behind him in 8/8 time. Solos come fast and furious, as do the triple rolls. Thordendal finds outer space once again, his old-world stylings meshing with some sort of cosmic energy to create a new, alien genre of playing. Then the bottom drops out. Sludgy bass lines and Haake’s beats are anvils to wood, splintering the air. Around the 10-minute mark, a slight, quiet moment arrives where the guitars chime like a lullaby, but the silence soon gives way to Thordendal’s howitzer guitar, and the race is back on, until the final minutes, a lull of heavy strokes. Then fade out. It’s all simply a pummeling display of technical virtuosity that a comrade recently described as, “Sick, sick, f#!@ing sick!”

Meshuggah has been somewhat criticized over recent years for going soft, but I brings the band back to its original killing fields. The disc’s angular, brutal beauty proves that the quartet is heads above the rest when it comes to ferocity and technical prowess. For some, Slayer changed the way they listened to heavy music. Well, Meshuggah has just destroyed that perception and established new parameters.


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