HistoryThe Swedish band was formed in 1987 with considerable Voivod influence in Umeå. The band’s name alternately means ‘lover’ in Persian or ‘crazy’ in Yiddish. The band was vocalist and guitarist Jens Kidman, guitarist Fredrik Thordendal and bassist Peter Nordin. The group had a rough start falling into the progressive/thrash metal realm, but after disbanding and reforming ended up becoming more and more original and adventurous partly thanks to its disharmonic riffs and seven and eight string instruments. In the interim, the band operated as Calipash. A 1989 demo was called Ejaculation Of Salvation and was over half an hour long. A 1989 12” EP was Simply called Meshuggah and featured drummer Niklas Lundgren. Local record store Garageland helped the band press and distribute it. Haake would take over in 1990.
The two recordings sent the band a recording contract by Nuclear Blast of Germany. The Voivod influence record, Contradictions Collapse (initially called (All This Because Of) Greed), was a commercial failure and the band and label went separate ways. The band and management (Luger Production which also worked with Dismember) opted to record a new demo. Jens Kidman had abandoned the guitar in 1992 upon the addition of Hagström. The band’s stated goal was to issue a new full-length in 1993. Having reconciled and renegotiated its contract with Nuclear Blast, the Germans returned with 1994’s None EP. This EP featured a hidden track, which was at the height of metal fashion at the time. Thordendal, who was working as a carpenter, severed the tip of his left middle finger, while Haake injured his hand in a grinder mishap! The group opened for the highly trendy Machine Head in Europe. The band toured with Machine Head for two months. Mårten Hagström stepped in for the Americans’ guitarist Rob Flynn after the latter suffered a hand injury. Thordendal also had to switch to bass for a while as Nodin resigned supposedly due to ear injuries. 1995 brought Destroy Erase Improve. This full-length showcased the band’s newer and more aggressive sound and has been re-issued several times. In an episode of The Osbournes, Jack Osbourne assaulted their neighbours with the album. The Japanese version featured bonus songs and Japanese lyrics. The group was now in vogue and Meshuggah found advocates in many other bands with Sepultura being a special case. Thordendal initiated a solo project as the band continued touring. A 1996 promo from Nuclear Blast paired the band with Hypocrisy. Kidman produced Embracing’s I Bear The Burden Of Time album. Chaosphere pushed the band’s popularity to its zenith. The recording and mix were once again by Daniel Bergstrand and Fredrik Thordendal. Jazz and techno-metal were now in full swing. Shows with Slayer in the USA and several with Entombed followed. The group had also played at the Milwaukee Metal Fest. A 2001 compilation was called Rare Trax. It featured demo material and videos. Hielm left in July. Drummer Tomas Haake suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and shows were cancelled. Lövgren of Armageddon joined the band on bass. The group was also added to the Ozzfest roster. Nothing was the next record. A tour with Darkane followed. A tour with tool was announced, as well as shows with SYL. It was followed by an EP called I, which featured one twenty-minute track. The group signed with Nuclear Blast again. The album Catch Thirtythree came next. Shows with Scarve, Haunted and Mnemic followed. Re-Nothing was a two-disc set which was a re-recording of the Nothing album with an eight-string guitar replacing the original seven-string recording. By now the band had None, Nothing and Re-Nothing. ObZen was next and did fairly well landing in the billboard charts. The band toured North America with the reformed Cynic. A 2010 CD/DVD was called Alive. It featured live shows including a 2008 performance at the Loudpark Festival in Tokyo. Kiss must have tried to sue, but likely remained unsuccessful. Thordendal was working on a new solo record, but the group also announced a new record would be out in 2011. Instead, the band would release its next studio album, Koloss, on March 23rd, 2012 through Nuclear Blast. The band was touring North America with Decapitated and Baroness. Koloss, the new album from Meshuggah, sold 18,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position Number 17 on The Billboard 200 chart. Singer Jens Kidman came down with the flu and missed the February 12th, 2013 show at Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. The band performed anyway. Meshuggah would tour North America in the summer of 2014 to commemorate its 25th year in music with a couple of festival appearances, Canadian shows and US clubs dates. Opening the shows was North Carolina's Between The Buried And Me. Furthermore, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the recording of its first EP, Meshuggah would release a live CD and DVD called The Ophidian Trek in the autumn of 2014 through Nuclear Blast. It contained shows filmed in the U.S.A. and Europe during The Ophidian Trek tour and Wacken Open Air. Long Island quartet, Car Bomb, was announced as support for Meshuggah on the latter band’s upcoming 25 Years Of Musical Deviance Tour in Europe that December. Meshuggah toured in the autumn of 2016 with support from High On Fire. Meshuggah picked The Violent Sleep Of Reason as the title for its next album, which was due on October 7th 2016 through Nuclear Blast. Megadeth, Meshuggah, Tesseract and Lillake would tour the Canada and the USA in June of 2017. Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal was to miss the band’s summer tour with Megadeth. His temporary replacement was Scar Symmetry’s Per Nilsson. An explanation was not offered other than a statement about the man being on a mission of exploration. Meshuggah toured North America with guests Code Orange and Toothgrinder in January of 2018. Meshuggah was at Sweetspot Studio recording a new album in 2021. Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal was back and replacing his replacement, Per Nilsson.
MESHUGGAH - NOTHING - NUCLEAR BLAST
The CD jacket proclaims that 'On August 6 You'll get Nothing...and like
Cute, but it has to be pointed out that the Swedes' 1994 EP bore the
None and so the Swedes might be overplaying their hands with the new
Either way Meshuggah's speciality resides in being staccato-Loud and
suitably the album is very bass-heavy and sounds crushing. The bio
guitarist Thordendal's eight-string guitar which probably explains this
wallop of sound coming at the listener. To their credit Meshuggah does
incorporate some credible leads. The songs are mid-paced and cruise
does a truckload of bricks on a crash course. In fact they are, not so
as songs, but collection of power chords crashing on top of one another
band's Voivod influences shine right through on song number eight.
What is cold and mechanical? Nothing.
MESHUGGAH - CATCH THIRTYTHREE - NUCLEAR BLAST
It's tempting to brand Meshuggah a one-trick anomaly, the band's singular derivative being the encapsulation of the estranged (and estranged time signatures!), of course. But in reality, Meshuggah's got the competition beat: much like staring right into the eye of the abyss, these Swedes write music that captivates, leaving the listener struggling to make sense and coherence out of a system that doesn't fit the linearity we're all accustomed to (socially fabricated or not). That being said, Catch Thirtythree is one of Meshuggah's more immediate offerings; of course, that is indeed a relative statement given the group's super-leftist leanings when it comes to song construction. In terms of familiars, Meshuggah's trademark 8-string discordance is still present as is a rhythmic frame that beats, pummels and horrifies you into submission - if the band isn't repeating a riff an innumerable amount of times, it's using its thick-as-fuck guitar-sludge as a device to compress your outers and innards. Surprisingly, Catch Thirtythree has some measure of dynamic, as slow Enslaved-ish/trippy passages make their way into the tunes as divergence in the middle of the hellish storm, but those calm respites don't last for long. To be honest, the 3:00-7:00 mark during record-closer Sum could have been directly lifted from a Boards Of Canada (i.e. the Scottish trip-hop duo) record. In sum and totality: Meshuggah's an important band, not only because it's been doing this kind of relativistic/constructivist thing for a decade, but also as a result of the analytic dissection of music that's followed suit. In that vein, Catch Thirtythree both continues the group's legacy and furthers it - the challenge, no doubt, is wondering how the hell the riffs get so damn heavy. - James Tape
MESHUGGAH - RE-NOTHING - NUCLEAR BLAST
Alternately known as Re-Nothing (on the disc itself) or Nothing (album’s cover - confusing given the name of the original 2002 recording was also Nothing) this two-disc set is a re-recording of the Nothing album with an eight-string guitar replacing the original seven-string recording. There are also other differences such as a lighter sound and some effects on the vocals, but the band has essentially taken it upon itself to re-release or reinterpret its own album after a mere four years.
Overall, one finds the album to be less atmospheric and less devastating. The thick swamp that was the original is just a tad shallower, the guitar string crackle even more and a beginning here and an ending there have also been altered. The entire affair does come across as more controlled, which might be a function of the length of time the band has lived with the songs.
All of that aside, Re-Nothing while not necessarily a new idea given how Testament, Anthrax and others have done the same to their older material is extreme since the original was a recent recording and featured the same group of people intact as a writing line-up. This might be a live example of the negative side effects of technology. A band which can reinterpret history, and has been given the budget, will do so and not necessarily for the better. Meshuggah should have stood by its original and concentrated on creating newer work it could stand behind. At least when incantation issued two albums featuring the same songs ten years ago it did so after having being coerced into a re-mix of its material by unsatisfactory production.
The set is comprised of two discs as mentioned. The band and label have tagged a DVD disc to the release featuring several cheap video clips and performances from the band at the UK’s Download Festival. - Ali “The Metallian”
MESHUGGAH - OBZEN - NUCLEAR BLAST
Has Obzen’s cover artwork created any riots in the more religiously backward areas of our planet yet? India? Thailand? Tibet? Anyone? We all know how religion reacts to deviation and needs provocation to sustain itself.
Obzen’s edge is not in its cover or title, however, no matter how far one can read into it. The music is where the action is with these Swedes. The bass-oriented band has recorded an album that is likely the culmination of all its previous body of work. The title of the ultimate name in progressive metal is rightfully Meshuggah’s The slapping bass guitar mania, the screamed/murmured voice, the odd guitar solo, the odder modern guitar rhythm and the bouts of melody are all there, but none is amazing as the delivery of such a forceful bass sound without breaking the songs asunder. Hello Necromantia! Lethargica and Dancers To A Discordant System (a Rush title candidate?) pause to strum like Testament’s The New Order, but it all serves to accentuate and contrast the fierceness that is Meshuggah.
For those who seek atmosphere in an industrial vortex, beauty in an industrial mincer or the trance of a conveyor belt Obzen is the ultimate machine. The band has blurred the line between noise and music. - Ali “The Metallian”