Review: MESHUGGAH-”Koloss”

By Lane Oliver

It’s been roughly four years since Meshuggah’s last album, Obzen, was released. When talk of a new album in works surfaced last year, music critics and fans alike got excited; including myself. 2012 has brought us the release of Koloss, the new album from the revolutionary Meshuggah. It is fairly common for popular bands to receive an extreme amount of praise and hype whenever they cough up a new album. The question is, is Koloss all hype or a legitimately good release?

I have been a Meshuggah fan for quite some time and it is becoming ever apparent that the band has been pulling away from ferocity and velocity in favor of a slow, tension building and crushing atmosphere. I believe this change started to manifest itself in the album Nothing; a favorite album by many a Meshuggah fan. Koloss is probably the peak of this change, and probably not for the better. Koloss opens up with the aptly named “I am Colossus”, which begins a short riff that descends down the frets into a droning chug that repeats throughout the majority of this track. This dense chugging does create a sort of dismal and menacing atmosphere, sure, but at the same time it gets really old quick. It seems that Meshuggah three to four main riffs and decided to beat a dead horse with them for this track. But the same goes for a lot of the tracks on this record. The slower tracks are thunderous and incredibly heavy but also incredibly boring. “Boring” is a word I thought I would never use to describe a Meshuggah song. When the band picks up the pace however, it is a little more bearable. “The Demon’s Name is Surveillance” and “The Hurt That Finds You First”, the fastest songs on the record by far, focus more on tremolo picked riffs that cycle up and down the neck at times and ferocious bouts of drumming of gargantuan proportions. But even these songs can get old quick. They may be faster but they also fall into the same repetitive trap Meshuggah has set for them. I loved the riffs on these tracks but after hearing them for the sixth or seventh time they begin to lose their effect. This is probably the most repetitive Meshuggah record I have heard. Not the good kind of repetitive like in bands like Earth or Swans where repetitive riffs are layered on top of each other to create interesting musical textures, no, the kind of repetitive where you could fall asleep listening to it.

There are a few positives thankfully. The band does provide some pretty good riffs here and there. It seems that near the end of the album, the songs get more interesting and less bland. Particularly tracks eight through ten. “Swarm” begins with this cycling of palm muted chugs that actually sounds like a swarm of gigantic metallic cockroaches scurrying around. Then it morphs into the main groove that is actually pretty damn infectious. “Demiurge” is another one of my favorites. It features some of the catchiest grooves I have ever heard in a Meshuggah song. These polyrhythmic riffs sound like something that SHOULD have been on Catch 33, but more well thought out and technical. Then the album closes with the echoing beauty of “The Last Vigil, a cleanly played melodic instrumental that seems so out of place yet fits so well. If the rest of this album was more inventive and less repetitive like these three, this album would have been so much better.

Meshuggah’s Koloss was a colossal disappointment to me. Repetitive, bland riffs that seem to just blend together after while plague the majority of this album. Though the album becomes more interesting near the end, it is already far too late by the time you get there. There are some decent riffs and concepts here and there but if they had chose to explore them more instead of beat them into the ground, this album would have become more interesting. But this is just my opinion. What did you think of it?

Rating: 5/10

Label: Nuclear Blast

Release Date: March 26th, 2012

Favorite Tracks: “Swarm”, “Demiurge”, “The Last Vigil”

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2 thoughts on “Review: MESHUGGAH-”Koloss””

  1. I’ve only listened to the album fully once through the I-am-a-leak page. In my opinion however, this was probably one of the most fresh and diverse Meshuggah records I have heard and is my favorite of the more recent Meshuggah albums(recent as in part of the “transition” Meshuggah albums where they began to slow down and have more atmosphere). An interview with guitarist Mårten Hagström revealed that this aimed to be the catchiest Meshuggah album that while at the outset might appear to be less intricate in fact had a lot of hidden intricacies. I found this to be true as I sat in my college in front of my amplifier blasting the album and found myself headbanging and imitating Tomas Haake. Initially, I have to say that the first track released “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” disappointed me. It wasn’t a bad track in my eyes but it felt lacking in what I expected of Meshuggah. The next track released “Do Not Look Down” seemed more of what I was expecting however it still felt a tad lacking. However, I felt those tracks flowed better now in the context of a full album. Maybe a listen through the album a few more times or even a second time might change my opinion. I know it did for Black Breath’s recent album Sentenced to Life. But for me as an individual, first impressions have always been key. If I liked it the first time, I usually only grow to like it more later.

  2. First review I’ve found that I can relate to, bored the tits off me. Granted there are some interesting bits in the album but I find myself turning my attention to other things while it’s playing. Have loved every Meshuggah album prior to this one also. Usually the drumming is a complete mind fuck (still have trouble playing parts from the other albums), this one just sounded like the band was on auto pilot.

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