Sound — 9
Meshuggah's sound is something of an indescribable jumble of things. Heavy riffs combine with slow-but-steady tempos and insane time signatures and rhythms to create a work of art that, if looked at in a visual form, would look something like the works of the great painter Picaso: to the naked eye (or ear in this case) it may look like a mass of nothing, but to someone with the brains enough to understand it, it's truly nothing less than a masterpiece. The songs all generally have the same tempo, not too fast, not too slow. This, I believe, is a weak point in the album. Lack of tempo change is something I look down upon in albums from any band: it's makes all of the songs sound the same. In this album, however, if you're a fan of Meshuggah's it shouldn't bother you. "Nothing" is a phenominal album. These five swedish musicians truly show you their skills. The guitars, providing most of the main rhythms, go completely insane. Although there isnt a massive amount of notes being played, a trait typical to Meshuggah songs, the band proves that you don't have to put your fingers all over the fretboard to be a skilled guitarist. The riffs are simple, but they're broken up into rhythms that are all over the time scale. They are quite easy to follow for the rhythmically trained ear. For someone who is just now getting into this type of music, however, good luck headbanging. Drumming is exceptional. Any drummer who can play double bass to the insane rhythms the guitars are playing while keeping a steady 4/4 beat on the crash cymbal while at the same time playing something totally random on the offbeat with the snare is one hell of a drummer in my eyes. Tomas Haake is a human drum machine. Enough said. As far as vocals goes, Jens Kidman is definitely a credit to this band. Is screaming range isnt amazing: he usually keeps his voice at a certain level. Maybe because he's been doing this for almost twenty years and he still has roughly the same voice he had when he started. Must be doing something right. Anyway while the sound of the vocals usually never changes (except in the song Spasm (track 9) where he talk-sings throughout the entirety of the song) you can still feel the intesity behind the singers voice. The songs are put together quite nicely.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are written rather well. Jens Kidman has quite the imagination. It has come to my attention, however, that this album may be a concept album. From beginning to end, the lyrics seem to refer to the processes of the body and mind. In the songs "Perpetual Black Second", the singer claims to admit to comminting a violent act, and guilt is beginning to set in. His mind keeps replaying his actions "in succession of millions", and he's regretting ever commiting this act. Guilt and regret are emotions of the mind. The song "Spasm" breaks down the intricasies of a seizure, while "Closed-Eye Visuals" explains the brains ability to dream. Although I haven't deciphered the meanings of all the songs, like "Glints Collide", which appears to be about the contradiction we all call life, or "Straws Pulled at Random" or any of the other songs on the album I have yet to understand. With three of these songs that are seemingly about the same thing, it gives me perfect reason to think this may be some sort of concept album, although the band wants the fans to believe what they wish.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is definitely one of Meshuggah's finest albums. In preparations for their newest offering "obZen", anyone who wants to find a reason to get into these amazing musicians, "Nothing" is you're reason. And although Meshuggah is definitely an aquired taste, getting used to them will be nothing but a benefit to you.