The Angry Scotsman
I was very cautiously optimistic about this album, mainly due to claims from Meshuggah fans it was "different" but sadly I was quite let down, (which maybe shouldn't have surprised me).
I fully admit I'm not a big fan of Meshuggah but here's why, they have always bored me. Their fans (who have really grown in number over the years and have reached "fanboy" status) are quick and passionate to tell me how technical they are and I understand that and appreciate it. It's just boring. Meshuggah is of course technical in regards to their insane time signature use and polyrhythms but not so much in terms of musicianship and song writing. The shame is they used to display such tendencies, and their albums "Destroy Erase Improve" and "I" are awesome prog metal works in my book. They have largely abandoned this for whacking the crap out of a few djent notes, or repeating two riffs, for 5 minutes and purposefully anti tonal brutality. This generally upsets fans who repeat "technicality" to me and I again ask to understand something can be impressive and still boring.
That was not a rant for the sake of it, but basically how I feel about this album. More of the same. One person I know said this album was proof that all those who think Meshuggah just do the same thing need their sanity checked, or something like that. Well check me in to the asylum.
"Koloss" sounds like same old Meshuggah to me. This is perfectly fine for fans, but I am just confused as to where the difference is. Djent and brutality abound. Whacked out time sigs, sub drop A djent riffs, and intentionally unforgiving brutality are a plenty. Every song sounds like Meshuggah by the numbers to me, and I admit every song on "Koloss" is different, which is nice, but the songs themselves tend to be repetitive. I think it's bad when a song feels like it was twice as long as it really was...
A prime example of my beef with Meshuggah is the song "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave it Motion". It starts off cool, and has one hell of a brutal riff. Then that one riff continues for more or less 7 minutes. There is one part when it lets up, and it's a decent section but man what an unrelenting song overall. Especially with Jens screaming away.
Jens' vocals are, as always, completely atonal, non pitched and anti melodic. I get it. I know it's what they want to do, and I applaud them for taking no prisoners, but I just don't care for it. No variation, no pitch no nothing...just shouting at the absolute max. I will say they actually seem to have toned down the vocals a bit, it's not as piercing as previous albums. I'm not a fan but I can at least tolerate them on "Koloss"
For some good news, this album is better than recent Meshuggah output. I like the song "Behind the Sun" because it actually feels like a song, it progresses. I don't get bored after a few minutes and it builds to a powerful climax!
"The Hurt That Finds You First" starts off nice and thrashy, which is welcomed, and the song really changes throughout. How nice!
"Marrow" isn't bad, nothing new to say but it does change it up a good bit and even has some classic Thordendal random tapping solos. OK, not to take away from the guy but seriously, youtube it...you can make a Fredrik sounding solo by finding a certain way to tap 3 notes all over. Not a bad song, some cool parts.
"Swarn" OK now this starts off kicking some ass. Unfortunately it gets repetitive quick. There are some pretty sweet moments, but they are like islands on a trip across the ocean. Also there's more of that Meshuggah guitar noise just floating around the background. An alright song.
"Demiurge" isn't too bad either. The epic brutal riff is a bit boring, but the song does enough to at least keep me from wanting to hit next. Though really, the changes aren't drastic, just difference in the brutal riff being played.
The album ends with "The Last Vigil" another Meshuggah classic, the clean song. Not groundbreaking but very relieving! A melodic, clean guitar song that drifts you away. Very nice.
So that's what we got. I stress I get the band wants to do, and appreciate their technicality, (Tomas Haake is still one of my favorite drummers) but I am just left cold. Maybe that's the intent. Another repetitive, by the book Meshuggah album, though admittedly better and a bit more varied than recent work.
"Koloss" will be a damn fine album for any Meshuggah fan, while those who are not will find nothing here worth buying. I find half the songs boring, the rest are decent and a couple I actually enjoy. So while I recommend "Koloss" only for Meshuggah fans, it's not a bad album by any stretch, and feel a 2.5 is fair.
TWO AND A HALF STARS