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.