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3.87 | 52 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1995


1. Future Breed Machine (05:48)
2. Beneath (05:07)
3. Soul Burn (05:17)
4. Transfixion (03:33)
5. Vanished (05:04)
6. Acrid Placidity (03:15)
7. Inside What's Within Behind (04:30)
8. Terminal Illusions (03:47)
9. Suffer in Truth (04:19)
10. Sublevels (05:14)

Total Time 45:54

1995 Japanese edition:

11. Humiliative (05:16)
12. Ritual (06:16)
13. Gods of Rapture (Live) (04:54)

Total Time 62:20

2008 Reloaded edition:

11. Vanished (Demo) (05:34)
12. Suffer in Truth (Demo) (04:27)
13. Inside What's Within Behind (Demo) (04:11)
14. Gods of Rapture (Live) (04:54)
15. Aztec Two Step (10:44)

Total Time 75:44


- Jens Kidman / vocals
- Fredrik Thordendal / lead guitar
- Mårten Hagström / rhythm guitar
- Peter Nordin / bass
- Tomas Haake / drums

About this release

CD and cassette released 12th May 1995 on Nuclear Blast Records (NB 121-2 / 27361 61212).

Cassette also released on Morbid Noizz Productions (065) / Valentine Music Productions (VMP00632-4) / Nuclear Blast America (NBA 6874-4).

CD released in Japan 22nd November 1995 on Victor Entertainment (VICP-5659), with bonus tracks.

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 25th November 2008 on Nuclear Blast Records (NB 2192-2 / 27361 21922).

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.

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman, triceratopsoil, UMUR, Bosh66, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Destroy Erase Improve" is the 2nd full-length studio album by technical thrash metal act Meshuggah. The album was relased through Nuclear Blast Records in May 1995. It´s the successor to "Contradictions Collapse" from 1991, although the two full-length releases were bridged by the "None (1994)" and the "Selfcaged (1995)" EPs. Since the release of "Contradictions Collapse (1991)" rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström has joined Meshuggah, making the band a five-piece. The change already happened before the recording of "None (1994)", so Hagström also appears on the two EPs.

"Contradictions Collapse (1991)" featured a technical thrash metal sound, but Meshuggah developed a heavier and more groove oriented approach to their thrash metal on the subsequent EPs and continue that direction on "Destroy Erase Improve". It´s a highly technical form of groove/thrash, featuring odd-metered staccato riffs and rhythms, strong jazz/fusion influences (some of the chord progressions, the drumming, and the Alan Holdsworth influenced guitar solos point in that direction), a generally cold and alien atmosphere, and Jens Kidman´s James Hetfield (Metallica) on steroids vocals.

"Destroy Erase Improve" packs a mighty punch and it´s overall a well produced album, featuring a powerful sound which suits the material perfectly. "Future Breed Machine" opens the album with an aggressive attitude, sharp riffs and rhythms, and an angry sounding Kidman in front, and that´s pretty much how it continues for the duration of the playing time. It´s bleak and aggressive, ultra technical groove/thrash metal, and the incredibly skilled band perform the music with the right amount of cold attitude and sharp aggression. The jazz/fusion influenced solos and guitar created atmospheric elements break the mood of the tracks once in a while, but other than that the listener is constantly pummeled by Meshuggah, who prove that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Personally I could have wished for a little more variation between the tracks, or a few more memorable parts or moments during the album´s playing time (the instantly recognisable vocoder part opening "Future Breed Machine" is an example of that), but "Destroy Erase Improve" is still overall a quality release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
siLLy puPPy
Although Sweden’s MESHUGGAH (Yiddish for CRAZY) had been formed all the way back in 1987 by lead vocalist Jens Kidman, the band which went through a few lineup changes and spent much of its early years existing as a Metallica worship band steeped in the classic Hatfield-isms that made that brand of thrash metal dominate the 80s which still reverberates so well far into the 21st century. While the debut “Contradictions Collapse” displayed an ample supple of “Master Of Puppets” reworked for the insane asylum, MESHUGGAH added enough sprinklings of experimental touches to slap any notion that the band was a mere puppet of the masters of 80s thrash but unfortunately the album failed to come off as something that really prognosticated greatness to come. Now that would come soon thereafter with the release of the EP “None,” which found a fifth member joining ranks in the form of Mårten Hagström who took over the rhythm guitar so Kidman could focus exclusively on vocals.

After a tour or two, MESHUGGAH entered the studios as a fledgling quintet and then something unthinkable happened. The ultimate chemical reaction had occurred and the band’s second full-length album was released to an unsuspecting world and frankly, the metal world would never be the same. While progressive metal was nothing new by 1995, what MESHUGGAH delivered with DESTROY ERASE IMPROVE clearly was. By entangling the filthy rawness of both death and thrash metal and inserting ample doses of technicality in the forms of strange unorthodox song structures, jittery off-kilter time signatures and instrumental antics straight out of the prog rock and jazz-fusion universe, MESHUGGAH had taken their thrash nascency into new musical worlds never dreamed of much less fully accomplished and in the process created a new extreme metal style that has since been tagged with the stupid sounding term “djent.” Ugh.

While “Contradictions Collapse” only hinting of the latent potential awaiting the day when the proper nutrients and sunlight would allow a full blooming bonanza, DESTROY ERASE IMPROVE is where spring has finally come with fertile verdant fields in the form of fully fueled aggressive technical metal workouts that focused on a rampaging stampede of staccato crunch and jazzified rhythmic mindf.u.c.kery. Different bands evolve at different rates but MESHUGGAH was a slow burner in their journey from thrash to smash. While DESTROY ERASE IMPROVE isn’t nearly as experimental and progressive as the following mind numbing albums such as “Catch Thirtythree” or “Nothing,” DESTROY still retains a great deal of thrash bombast with crunchy rhythmic grooves that stabilize the furious intensity from becoming too far into the experimental zones before the members were ready to fully explore the outer realms of space.

While the tracks alone are enough to celebrate and with a tight-knit quality so consistent that the album rightfully has been deemed one of the most innovative metal albums of the entire 90s, the other exemplary factor is how well the album is paced with the frenetic fury of the the first five tracks finding the intermission instrumental “Acrid Placidity” hinting at the psychedelic surreality that is possible simply from a slow contemplative clean guitar arpeggio fortified with atmospheric ambience and a melodic guitar lick that allows the undeclared melodic side of the album to shine instead of being banished to the status of a mere anchor submerged beneath the bantering din. But when that track is over, it’s time to resume operations at the molten metal factory and once again the cacophonous roar of Fredrik Thorendal and Mårten Hagström’s dual guitar attacks reign supreme along with the progressively wicked rhythmic bombast of Tomas Haake’s punishing drumming gymnastic and the accompanying down-tuned bass abuse of Peter Nording, who ironically would have to leave the band soon after due to the fact that he was suffering from vertigo!

It goes without saying that despite the divergence of the myriad subgenera that have splintered off into a vast metal universe, much of the technical wizardry that has ensued into the 21st century owes a thing or two to these Swedish masters of ultimate experimental fortitude and esoteric labyrinthine precision that was unheard of before and to be honest, it still surprises me how innovative DESTROY ERASE IMPROVE sounds nearly a quarter of a century after its initial release. Top that off and the title practically tells the tale of the band’s evolution from its derivative origins to its unique little nook of its own making. I also really dig how the cover art alludes to the whole A.I. thing as it displays a the destruction of the human being only to be replace by some sort of computer operated and easily controlled artificial version. While i wouldn’t call DESTROY ERASE IMPROVE my favorite MESHUGGAH album by any means, it’s certainly not far down the list and is the only album that perfectly balances the thrash metal leanings of the early years with the far-flung adventures to follow and there is absolutely no denying its importance in terms of innovation. Truly a top dog in the world of prog metal not to be missed.
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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