Koloss by Meshuggah (Nuclear Blast Records)

Meshuggah return with another 50 minutes 0f heavy as hell corroded metal for your neck surgeon’s pleasure.

Meshuggah are one of the most refined yet extreme bands out there.  On one level you can let all your troubles fall like sweat to the mosh pit yet the band also warrant repeated listens thanks to the way they work around rhythm changes and can delve into the workings of their instruments like no other.

On I Am Colossus the extended echo of the downtuned guitar chug is just as important as anything else in creating tension and building an audio backing to Jens Kidman’s clenched throated lyrics.  Throughout the album Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström continue to do things with their guitars that are unnatural, frightening and ultimately in the service to the Meshuggah sound: drawn out whale calls, finger tapping solos that threatens to trip over themselves,  playing slowly over the fast tempo like angels of death awaiting the end of a battle, or locking into the rhythm section like a V8 engine starting up.

Speaking of the rhythms: bassist Dick Lovgren is mixed and plays to be heard in the bottom heavy mix, jazzing it up or simply banging on the instrument for a pounding sound.  Tomas Haake is a powerhouse percussionist, Meshuggah would still be an excellent band without him, but it is Haake that makes the band stand head and shoulders over many other extreme metal bands with his understanding of tempo, rhythm and dynamics.  On  Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion the oppression of the steady beat is broken up halfway through with a lighter approach on the drums as the bass thrums and the guitars go all atmospheric and etherial. On Behind the Sun the double bass drums get a workout as the track becomes even more menacing than before. And The Hurt That Finds You First is a deceptively simple hardcore snare/bass combo that takes muscle and patience to do well.

If you want a band that makes you think as well as throw a spinal disc out, Meshuggah’s Koloss is for you.

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