Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Feeding Frenzy of My Starving Soul

Meshuggah – Catch ThirtyThree

The denizens of the heavy metal related parts of the internet seem to have a particular fondness for two bands, Dillinger Escape Plan and Meshuggah. Both bands are quite heavy, but there are a lot of bands heavier, what makes these guys unique are there extreme rhythms, or lack of them. I've already given Dillinger a listen, and they've become one of my favorite bands, but I only recently got around to buying a Meshuggah album.

Dillinger are completely off the wall, with no discernible rhythm, Meshuggah at first glance seem to be much the same, but after a few bars go by patterns start to manifest. They're not completely arrhythmic, the rhythms are just highly unconventional, often with different parts playing in different time signatures. It can be quite the mind melt, but underneath the apparent chaos it's actually fairly mathematical.

On this particular album, the individual track markers are almost meaningless, as the whole album is composed as one continuous piece of music. More often than not they just indicate a change in the rhythm guitar's riff, (the mathematical nature of the music means that it's very repetitive). But it's not all heavy grinding from beginning to end, there are quieter interludes found here and there, some of which are quite nice.

I can see why these guys are so popular, their style is unlike anything I've heard before and it's pulled off very skillfully. Perhaps a little too skillfully, the drumming on this album was all programmed and while this allows some insane rhythms it costs them a bit of passion. The other thing that lets these guys down is the lyrics. The first time I heard them I thought it sounded like someone taking the piss out of an overwrought Scandinavian metal band, but no, they're for real. Fortunately, the vocalist at least has a very good screaming voice and delivers the lyrics well.

I like this album quite a bit, I've been thinking of it as neo-classical meets metal which is a fairly unique combination, but it's missing something, like they've come up with this brilliantly original style but haven't quite figured out how to use it to it's full effect. I've already bought another of their albums, but I don't think they come close to Dillinger.

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