Release Date: Mar 27, 2012
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Scandinavian Metal
Rather than trying to beat their ever-growing legion of imitators at their own game, Swedish prog metal destroyers Meshuggah look to prove that other bands not only aren't in the same league as them, but aren't even playing the same sport. On Koloss, their seventh album, they call upon all of their technical mastery as they take a slower, more groove-oriented approach to songwriting that's more about the perfect execution of precisely syncopated riffs than simply getting out there and proving that they've taken guitar lessons. While restraint isn't necessarily a word one would seem likely to use while describing a band as extreme as Meshuggah, it's exactly that quality that makes Koloss such a solid, even airtight, album.
As the nights get shorter and spirits lift, nothing can warm the cockles like a new long player from rambunctious, intense, claustrophobic, polyrhythmic industrial-strength thrash metal from Meshuggah. But beware: these metallers can’t just play guitars and drum at lightspeed, they’re also good at maths, meaning Meshuggah’s apocalyptic soundscape comes at you in strange time signatures. Lumped in with a math metal movement with the likes of Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan, they have been around since long before both bands, busy inventing a sound many others have imitated for the last 20 years.
They’re still leading the way when it comes to intelligent and undeniably brutal metal. Alex Deller 2012 In terms of complex, convoluted and mathematically precise metal, Sweden's Meshuggah have been a domineering presence for some 25 years, keeping company with the likes of Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan in terms of consistency and influence. They’ve brow-beaten us with unstoppable chromatic riffing, surging jazz-like undercurrents and Jens Kidman’s belligerent monotony-as-a-weapon gargle throughout, representing a vexatious anomaly who’ve received gushing critical praise while wider acceptance only came as they began to grey around the temples.
Meshuggah albums shun conceptual ‘themes’ or narratives, but Koloss has an undeniable single unified tone. A weighty sense of dreadful inevitability permeates. The listener is sentenced to peine forte et dure, torture and capital punishment by crushing: "His head covered and his feet. One arm will be drawn to one quarter of the house with a cord, and the other arm to another quarter, and in the same manner it will be done with his legs; and there will be laid upon his body iron and stone, as much as he can bear, or more..." The paradoxically intoxicating death wish of the thrill seeker.
In the last few years, Meshuggah have become one of the most ripped-off bands in extreme metal. The Swedish experimental tech-metal masters' iconic sound has been adopted by countless acts; it's that heavy, chugging guitar rhythm that's now one of the most widely used styles in modern metal, but Meshuggah did it first. Their seventh full-length, Koloss, is the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2008's stellar obZen and while it's still classic Meshuggah, the new record takes a much slower, groove-based approach than the band's previous efforts.
Those that have followed Swedish extreme-metal band Meshuggah’s career will no doubt be enthralled by their latest opus, Koloss. It’s every bit as epic, heavy and serpentine as the other albums in their swelling discography. The trouble is, not much sets this new album apart from their career benchmarks, like 2002’s Nothing or 1998’s Chaosphere.