Got only time for one track to decide whether the latest from Sweden's polyrhythmic masters, Meshuggah, still have something to offer with their latest album? How about "MonstroCity." Guaranteed good time. With The Violent Sleep Of Reason, continue to perservere, armed with the sound they invented. I'm not sure they can really break the mold anymore, because that f#$ker was shattered like 15 years ago. Even so, I think that these guys only continue to improve with each album; incorporating the occasional experimentation, but mostly further fusing their technical ninja skills with songwriting that is more and more marketable and catchy at the same time.
Now for both newcomers and nay-sayers, I will continue to throw in this aside: Jens' vocals are intended to be somewhat monotonous. That may seem like a cop-out, but this complaint I have heard many times before has been addressed in interview by the band. Meshuggah writes their music in terms of rhythm, and they treat every instrument as percussion. This includes Jens' atypical style of delivery. He is just one more cog in this binary-pumping machine. Now onto the record.
It seems pretty redundant at this point to describe the band's music as "groovy," but man they haven't given me much choice here. Sure, "groove" has always been an inseperable component of their technique, but with The Violent Sleep of Reason the word goes far beyond strategy. Koloss, I felt, had a darker and more ominous feel to it. The groove was more reptilian in nature, with a soundspace that felt vast and isolated. This one is groovy as in I want to strap on a loin cloth and do some weird, contortive dancing around a fire with a bunch of other half naked people. This becomes apparent as early as "Clockworks," when this opening track really kicks into high gear and just oozes a certain primal sexuality.
And that's part of the genius with this album: they've used cold, analytical strategies to painstakingly construct what should be an unfeeling automaton, and yet the end result feels very organic. Cronenberg, eat your heart out. The cyborg has gained sentience. You can hear it in every djenty blast and freeform jazz solo. The latter sometimes sounds like self-aware robo chatter. You can feel it as the drums simply compell every muscle in your body to move. Again, just listen to "MonstroCity." That song is a f#$king masterpeice. Possibly their best yet.
And I don't mean to sell this album as a one-trick pony either. There are so many fantastic songs on this release: "Nonstrum" with its explosive drums that never seem to stop igniting new fuses, "Born in Dissonance," "By The Ton"...Long story short, there are no bad songs on this album. Not a single dud, which is another great success in the band's growth. While their songs aren't becoming markedly different for the most part, I would argue that their albums have been becoming more and more consistent over time. I still love ObZen and Nothing, and those albums have some pretty unbeatable classics...but they can be a little inconsistent. I feel with Koloss and now The Violent Sleep Of Reason, Meshuggah have really stepped up their game in deliverying nonstop thrills across the entire duration.
Did I miss anything? I think that pretty much covers what you need to know. The bottom line is that The Violent Sleep Of Reason is a fantastic album filled with bionic beats that have a certain heart and soul if you take a crowbar to the steel exterior. I don't normally like the argument of "you just don't get it" when it comes to people who shy away from a certain band, but in the case of Meshuaggah, I feel there is at least some validity to the statement. No other band sounds quite like them, and the level of method to the madness is something you at very least must respect. I'm not an elitist. I accept respect for Neurosis, even though I just don't "get" their sound. So fans, buy this album. Non-fans, people on the fence; this is as good a time as any to give them another go. Respect the groove.