Destroy Erase Improve
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MESHUGGAH - Destroy Erase Improve cover
3.86 | 33 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1995

Filed under Avant-garde Metal


1. Future Breed Machine (5:48)
2. Beneath (5:38)
3. Soul Burn (5:17)
4. Transfixion (3:33)
5. Vanished (5:04)
6. Acrid Placidity (3:16)
7. Inside What's Within Behind (4:30)
8. Terminal Illusions (3:47)
9. Suffer in Truth (4:20)
10. Sublevels (5:14)

Total Time: 46:31


- Jens Kidman / Vocals
- Fredrik Thordendal / Lead Guitar
- Mårten Hagström / Rhythm Guitar
- Peter Nordin / Bass
- Tomas Haake / Drums

About this release

Nuclear Blast Records, July 25th, 1995

Recorded and mixed at Soundfront Studios, Uppsala, Sweden, Feb-95
Mixed by Danne Bergstrand & Fredrik Thordendal
Engineered by Danne Bergstrand
Produced by Meshuggah & Danne Bergstrand
Mastered at Cutting Room, Stockholm by Peter In De Betou

Cover design by Meshuggah
Cover art work by Stefan Gillbald

There also is a european jewelcase version. Details unknown.

VICP-5659 (Victor) Japanese release with bonus tracks: "Humiliative", "Ritual", "Gods of Rapture" (live version from Selfcaged). Lyrics printed in Japanese.

There was also a promo version in white cardboard casing, and the disc has a picture of a brain. It says "promo 121" as well as the regular production number.

Re-released 2007 in bi-coloured "Swedish flag" vinyl, limited to 333 hand-numbered copies, by Night of the Vinyl Dead.

Reloaded Edition housed in a Super Jewel Box released in 2008 by Nuclear Blast Records. It contains the following bonus tracks:
11. Vanished (Demo) (5:34)
12. Suffer in Truth (Demo) (4:27)
13. Inside What's Within Behind (Demo) (4:11)
14. Gods of Rapture (Live) (4:54)
15. Aztec Two Step (10:44)

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman, triceratopsoil, UMUR for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Meshuggah are innovators, and Destroy Erase Improve is where they wheeled out many of their innovations for the first time. There's little question that this album is of crucial importance to progressive metal, particularly that odd little strand we call "djent".

At the same time, though, simply because you originate something doesn't mean you've perfected it. The Wright Brothers' first aeroplane was an important innovation, but you wouldn't want to fly such a plane for any reason other than sheer historical interest - there are better planes that give smoother and more comfortable rides and can do more tricks these days. Destroy Erase Improve is kind of like that: I can see why it's important to djent, but I can't help but think that later bands such as Animals as Leaders have actually taken the genre in a much more interesting direction since then. (In particular I find the album to be frequently a little emotionally sparse and cold, and not in an interesting chilly cyberpunk way but more in a dull "these guys are more interested in showing off than emotionally connecting or constructing a meaningful aesthetic" way.)

I say give it a go if you're interested in where the djent craze came from, but don't judge the entire subgenre on the grounds of this shaky early blueprint.
After several years of being a more technical Metallica, Meshuggah began to break new ground with their album "Destroy Erase Improve". The thrash elements are still very present, but there's a widespread new focus on experimentation, unusual grooves, and Fredrik Thordendal's bizarre guitar tapping. Even today, it retains some elements that aren't really used all that much now, still making it a unique listen.

If you're looking at this in terms of normal Meshuggah, Destroy Erase Improve is more varied. While most of the latter albums find a single idea or groove and tend to hang on to it throughout the songs' entirety, this album's songs have more changing within the structure. Polymetric riffs are, of course, the norm, but they are interwoven with sections that are fairly normal for thrash. This way the haunting, spacey grooves Meshuggah are known for are easily integrated into some truly headbang-worthy thrash material.

Almost any song on the album is a good example of this. You can easily look at their live standard, "Future Breed Machine" which has plenty of changes in dynamic, from a destructive intro to some spacey chords to some groovy playback to a brutal 7/8 breakdown. But most of the songs have plenty of this interplay, such as "Soul Burn", which starts off fairly slow and heavy, but the groove becomes unusually swaggering even for Meshuggah standards, but goes into total freakout mode when it goes to one of Thordendal's unusual tapping solos.

In fact, the guitars have more presence than most would expect on this album, there are lots of unusual droning chords that the band has sadly abandoned as the years have gone by. These unusual chords with a caustic feel can be fully exemplified in the instrumental track "Acrid Placidity", which is one of the most uneasy instrumentals, and quite unusual by Meshuggah standards. This section of the album permeates into the outro of "Sublevels", where everything seems to burn down in a spectacular outro, or "Vanished", where these chords drone through the blazing tempo of the rest of the band.

One downside of this somewhat more melodic side to the band is that drummer Thomas Haake doesn't have as much time in the spotlight. That being said, he is by no means outshone in Destroy Erase Improve, as he is still an integral part and his quick fills and his signature polymetric grooves align with the guitar perfectly, and should be given as much credit for the songs' grooves as ever.

In summation, this album is a thrash album that shows just what Meshuggah is. For those who aren't able to get into their later works' hypnotic grooves and unending polymeters, maybe they would be able to appreciate Destroy Erase Improve's thrash oriented approach to the sound. Definitely what progressive metal fans should be into if they like their metal extreme, unusual, and heavy.

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