I (Special Edition) by Meshuggah (Nuclear Blast Records)
Ten years ago this past summer Meshuggah released the 21 minute epic I to commemorate the beginning of their friend Jason Popson’s Fractured Transmitter label. While fans are hungrily awaiting the next Meshuggah full length, we’ve got this re-release of I to sate us. As disjointed as the various parts may have been prior to mixing, they all sound of a single ear-melting piece. The band didn’t have to appeal to their present label, given release for one song to support Popson, the band still had the pressure to continue to impress their fans. Every member an imaginative musician, I feels like classic Meshuggah: downtuned guitars and insane solos, harsh vocals, the percussion of three men in one, multiple rhythms and tempos and movements within songs among other elements. Turn it up loud and revel in the ambient guitar string plucking, followed by double-bass kicks, guitars locked into tight circles leading to a chugging and angry section, then a slow yet menacing guitar segment building to a futuristic “protecting the world from extinction” vibe that would make Geddy Lee smile.
Also included in this special edition is a live version of Bleed, taken from their 2012-13 tour. The band play with such precision I wonder if they’ve been bionically augmented to be able to keep up their style of playing. Dancers To A Discordant System follows, also from the same tour and released last year as a free promotional release for Scion. Dancers is a slower song yet no less thrilling for it, the band playing variations of the same riff, the groups coming to an agreement at the halfway point then getting down to a truly godlike headbanging session for the ending, mountains crumpling at the power. Pitch Black ties up the EP. Recorded in 2003 and previously released on the Scion download with Dancers, Pitch Black reveals a more accessible yet still brutal side of Meshuggah. beginning with a downtuned guitar chug accompanied by tribal drum tattoo, mysterious guitars pluck in the shadows, Jens Kidman’s vocals a smoky and subtle chanting, a guitar solo crashes down, at first sounding like a hard jazz saxaphone. Later, the quiet segment features a guitar part that is bluesy and played with soul. Then to bring it all to a destructive conclusion, the band combines performances from all the previous parts for one serious pit-stomping party.
(by Bret Miller)