KolossFeatured review by: UG Team, on march 27, 2012 4 of 9 people found this review helpful
Sound: It should be left to fans, critics and commentators to decide how the landscape's changed since Meshuggah released "obZen" in 2008, since the band themselves will have little interest. There is undoubtedly a bigger audience for the Swedes right now than there ever has been, thanks in part to a new crop of bands who are expanding on what was for years the band's unique, untouchable guitar style. The bounce of desperately low guitar strings has become a part of metal vocabulary in the absence of its pioneers, used or abused depending on who you ask. Either way, Meshuggah have subjects to address on their return. Thankfully, not a single question has been left unanswered by "Koloss".
Simply put, "Koloss" kills. The riffs don't stop but the spectrum of negativity - this vacuum of sound doesn't allow for light-heartedness - is travelled freely by a superb awareness of how melody can inform groove. The cascading slides of "Demiurge" open up ominous space like the finest doom metal while "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance" has penetrative dissonance to match penetrative drumming mindless chugging, this is not. Dynamics play a crucial part regardless of the ever-present drop-Z hammering. // 8
Lyrics: He's the only real proof that Meshuggah consist of humans rather than guitar-wielding androids, but Jens Kidman's hoarse tones are met with distaste in some sectors. They could be said to betray the hyper-futuristic feel of the band but this is false. He is, in truth, what keeps Meshuggah rabid; what gives them the freedom to fulfil listeners' most basic, Neanderthal pleasures without sacrificing rhythmic intricacy or pride in musicianship. Besides, this album has a little more grit in the mix than its immediate predecessors and suits his bark rather well. // 8
Overall Impression: What's most impressive about "Koloss" particularly after the creative spewage found on "Catch ThirtyThree" and "Nothing" is that it is paced, balanced and organised to precisely meet the demands of the material. It's easy to view this as a straight 55-minute assault (and let's not forget that this is brutally heavy stuff we're dealing with) but care is taken to ensure that the songs are distinct and the ideas not overdeveloped. Even the slickly executed "obZen" felt stretched now and again but on this, their longest original album in over twenty years, not a moment seems to be wasted. This can safely be counted among Meshuggah's very best. // 8
travislausch, on april 23, 2012 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Meshuggah are back with "Koloss", their first album since 2008's "obZen". Meshuggah are a band generally known for innovating with pretty much every album they've put out, and they've been pushing the boundaries of metal since most of us reading this were still eating Play-Doh in Kindergarten.
A noticeable trend has been happening with Meshuggah lately, though. They've been innovating less and less with their last few releases. While "Catch Thirty-Three" was an insanely experimental record for Meshuggah, I felt that "obZen" really didn't do anything new or exciting, though I did feel it to be a very solid record. "Koloss" definitely stirs those same feelings of lack of innovation, but like "obZen", still feels like a good, solid record.
Opening with "I Am Colossus", the album picks up exactly where "obZen" left off... Almost to the point where the song sounds like it was written for that record. We don't start to see any real change in the band's usual "slow polymetric low-F string tritone chug" formula until the second track, "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance", which contains almost no low-F (or even low-Bb) chugging. In fact, you could play the entire song on a six-string guitar easily. The rhythms in the song are fairly simple in comparison to anything they've released since their early records, and vocally, Jens Kidman really works the higher aspects of his voice, which he's been overlooking since "Nothing". "Do Not Look Down" has a kicka-s opening riff and one of the most conventional sounding Thordendal guitar solos since their thrash metal days.
"Behind The Sun" provides us a rare glimpse of Meshuggah writing something a bit simpler and, dare I say it, more conventionally melodic. Though the song is still very much in the vein of Meshuggah's recent formula, the whole of the song sounds like it rarely deviates from 4/4 time. This is actually kind of a recurring theme on "Koloss": Meshuggah is simplifying their sound a bit. Another deliciously thrash-y moment comes on the song "The Hurt That Finds You First", where the whole first half of the song is blisteringly fast and complex. The second half is the most dynamic part of the album, with the band dropping to near-silence for Fredrik's two-note lead. "Marrow" continues with the pedal to the metal, and a solo that sounds like pretty standard Thordendal fare (some have even suggested it to be a rewrite of his solo on Devin Townsend's track "Deconstruction").
"Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Give It Motion", besides having a title that would make Brendon Small blush, brings us back to the more mundane "obZen" style, despite having a really cool "solo" moment where we can actually hear bassist Dick Lovgren (this lead is actually played by Marten Hagstrom, for a change), and I feel it to be one of the weaker tracks on the record. "Swarm" contains some of the cooler guitar tracks, but it's another track I find kind of weak. "Demiurge" brings a bit of interesting texture into Meshuggah's recent formula, with guitar tracks that, dare I say it, almost sound like choir voices. The album's final track, "The Last Vigil", is an instrumental comprised entirely of Marten's clean guitars. Though it's a beautiful riff, I find it doesn't have any variation and gets boring.
Overall, there's not much innovation to be had here. No real "stinkers" of tracks, but I feel like Meshuggah have become Dream Theater here: they've found a sound that works for them and decided to stick to it. This would be great if Meshuggah were the kind of band that didn't already have a reputation of innovating with every release, but the fact that their recent records have left a sour taste in my mouth lately has been kind of sad. I'm not even asking for clean vocals or a return to some older style here... Just something different for a change would be nice.
The one thing about this record that I have no gripe about is the production. It's one of the best-produced records I've heard in a long time... The dynamics come out well, all of the vocals are nice and clear, nothing is too overpowering... It's a wonderfully clean production and yet, it still sounds natural and organic. // 7
Lyrics: Lyrically, not much has changed in the Meshuggah camp. Still very philosophical lyrics about the darker side of human nature. Jens Kidman's vocals on the record are his usual shouts, though he does try to flex his vocal muscles to do different tricks from time to time, like on the track "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance", which almost contains notes in it, and further references to "mechanical compound eyes". // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, I feel that "Koloss" is a wonderfully heavy record that suffers a bit from being a bit too much like "obZen", though it does have some solidly awesome moments. My favourite tracks from the album are "The Hurt That Finds You First" and "Do Not Look Down". Would I buy the album again? Maybe if I got to see the band live some time soon...
My overall rating of "Koloss" is 7/10. Good effort, but not great. I anticipate that the majority of readers would be inclined to disagree with me. Let's face it: Meshuggah has one devoted fanbase. I consider myself among them, as they were a musical discovery of mine that actually preceded most of my current favourite bands. But honestly, Meshuggah needs to shake things up a bit to get back on my good side. More tracks like "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance" or "The Hurt That Finds You First", fewer tracks like "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Give It Motion". // 7
John19Morley93, on april 25, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Meshuggah's new album "Koloss" is everything they said it would be and more when talking sound. As usual, Meshuggah have pulled out all the stops to get their signature heavy, resonant tone and have made it sound even more crushing.
The first track I heard from this album was "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion", due to the release of its own music video to promote the album. I got exactly what I expected, with brutally heavy rhythm sections from the guitars, bass and drums, haunting lead guitar parts such as its introduction, and pounding vocals. The intro is what caught my attention more than any other part of the song due to how eerie it sounds, as it's home to a fairly high pitched guitar part, starting around the 15th fret or so, which mixed with reverb and delay, gives the atmosphere an overwhelming feel of discomfort, but even though it casts this, it by no means causes you to stop the song.
The other songs contained within the album such as "Do Not Look Down" and "I am Colossus" are equally as heavy and harsh, but straight from the start of the song, leaving no room for mercy towards your ear drums, something in which Meshuggah are becoming even better known for.
Overall I honestly can't think of any way to possibly complain about the sound of the album. All of the instrument and vocal tracks sound perfectly mixed together, creating the afore mentioned atmosphere, and by doing so, the finished products leave you enthralled, embraced and anxious to hear what's coming next. // 10
Lyrics: As per with Meshuggah, the lyrics are as angry sounding as ever before and are sung with harsh vocals, for those of you that may never have heard Meshuggah before this album. Jens is a very reputable vocalist and is widely appreciated throughout the world of rock and metal as far as I can work out and with good reason. His vocals are as fluent and haunting as ever before on this album and are neither worse nor better, as improvement was never really needed.
Occasionally you can work out what he's saying without the use of Google to find the lyrics for you, which can be a lot better for fans who'd rather have vocals in which the words sound out a lot more obviously. However, you wouldn't even need the lyrics to enjoy these songs or the vocals within them. Every single shout and yell works with every single note bend or whack of a snare drum so furiously that you find yourself lost within the music and doing nothing but bobbing or banging your head along, without even thinking about the vocals.
In my personal opinion, I'm a huge fan of Meshuggah and the vocals in general, however due to them not having a lot of variety in terms of pitch, I sense a lot of people, fans or not, may become a little bored of them if listened to non stop for a good while. For this reason I give them lyrics/vocals a 9. // 9
Overall Impression: Meshuggah are one of the titans of Progressive and Technical metal and are known for their grooves, solos and vocals, and are often compared to artists such as Decapitated and SikTh because of the deep, heavy, progressive riffs and thumping, high speed drums.
Personally I believe Meshuggah are Meshuggah, and always will be, and nothing can be accurately compared. However with their own albums, my personal favorite was always "ObZen" (previous release), however this has topped it completely in guitar, bass and drum parts, and of course vocals too. The overall production and quality of the sound is just as good if not better and is definitely worth a purchase.
I honestly can't think of anything I hate about this album, about the fact that it's the last one for at least another year. I would buy this again and would certainly recommend it to any fans of metal and rock in general. // 10