MESHUGGAH — Contradictions Collapse

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MESHUGGAH - Contradictions Collapse cover
3.39 | 22 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1991

Tracklist


A1. Paralyzing Ignorance (04:28)
A2. Erroneous Manipulation (06:20)
A3. Abnegating Cecity (06:31)
A4. Internal Evidence (07:26)
B1. Qualms of Reality (07:09)
B2. We'll Never See the Day (06:03)
B3. Greed (07:05)
B4. Choirs of Devastation (04:00)

Total Time 49:06


CD version:

9. Cadaverous Mastication (07:32)

Total Time 56:38


1995 Japanese edition:

10. Sickening (05:47)
11. Gods of Rapture (05:11)
12. Aztec Two-Step (03:36)

Total Time 78:18

Line-up/Musicians


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

About this release

CD, cassette and 12" vinyl LP released May 1991 on Nuclear Blast (NB 049).

CD released 22nd November 1995 on Victor Entertainment (VICP-5660) with additional tracks.

CD compilation released 26th January 1998 with none EP on Nuclear Blast Records (NB 292-2 / 27361 62922) under the title; Contradictions Collapse & None.

Recorded at Tonteknik Recording (Umeå, Sweden).

Thanks to The Angry Scotsman, UMUR, Bosh66, Unitron, adg211288 for the updates

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MESHUGGAH CONTRADICTIONS COLLAPSE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

UMUR
"Contradictions Collapse" is the debut full-length studio album by technical thrash metal act Meshuggah. The album was relased through Nuclear Blast Records in January 1991. The original vinyl version of the album features 8 tracks while the CD version features a 9th bonus track in "Cadaverous Mastication". Meshuggah formed in 1987 (shortly functioning under the Calipash monicker) and released the "Ejaculation of Salvation" demo in 1989 and later the same year the "Meshuggah (Psykisk Testbild)" EP. There has been one lineup change since the release of the EP as drummer Niklas Lundgren has been replaced by Tomas Haake.

Stylistically the material on "Contradictions Collapse" is technical thrash metal. Lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Jens Kidman has a voice and vocal style which is somewhat similar to how James Hetfield of Metallica sounded in the 80s, although generally a bit more monotone and raw and shouting. Comparisons to the most technical moments on Metallica´s "...and Justice for All (1988)" are also valid enough, but Meshuggah are ultimately an even more technically complex and brutal monster. There´s often a fusion edge to the drumming, and lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal has a jazz/fusion solo style which is strongly influenced by Allan Holdsworth. "Contradictions Collapse" is not an easily accessible release and the material takes a bit of time and a few spins to remember. Given enough spins hooks begin to appear in memorable riffs and drum patterns or a catchy vocal phrase here and there. The point is that the album is more memorable than it may initially appear.

"Contradictions Collapse" features a powerful and detailed sounding production. It´s not the most well balanced sound production out there, and while it´s nice to actually be able to hear the bass on the metal production, the metallic toned bass is a little too dominant in the mix. The guitars should have been slightly higher placed in the mix and the bass a little lower and the album would arguably have prospered from it. Considering it´s a 1991 thrash metal release, "Contradictions Collapse" is still a well produced album though, so the balance of the instruments in the mix is after all a minor issue. Upon conclusion "Contradictions Collapse" is a strong debut album by Meshuggah and while it´s not a perfect release, and fans of the band´s subsequent releases aren´t guaranteed to enjoy this (it sounds very different from the ultra heavy, complex, and groove laden extreme metal of later works), it´s a succesful release on its own terms. Fans of technical late 80s/early 90s thrash metal are recommended to give this one a listen. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.
siLLy puPPy
While many metal bands have spent a career recycling the riffs and musical styles of other artists, some who start out that way actually latch on to their own sound and take the world by storm with innovative and out of the box approaches. Metallica took the world by storm in the 80s as they unleashed a unique mix of thrash metal, classical harmonizing and extreme metal assault and while bands like Testament have been churning out one alternative Metallica album after another for decades, MESHUGGAH on the other hand who started out worshipping the altar of albums like “Master Of Puppets” and “..And Justice For All” moved on into more progressive pastures.

The band was founded all the way back in 1987 by guitarist Frederik Thordendal and vocalist Jens Kidman and were no doubt influenced by the American thrash scene given its world dominating presence. The debut self-titled EP which is also known as “Psykisk Testbild” was the grand declaration that MESHUGGAH had the chops and stamina to be the best Metallica clone in the universe and pulled it off with ease yet it never occurred to the Thordendal and team to include even a lick of originality and despite its best efforts, the band just simply created an alternative universe release that seemed to have been slipped in between the “Masters Of Puppets” and “…And Justice For All” timeline.

Following the short little EP of three track by two years MESHUGGAH finally released their debut album CONTRADICTIONS COLLAPSE in 1991 and at long last started to show a little individuality as the band ratcheted a few significant steps up the creativity totem pole which would ultimately lead them to finding their niche as one of the world’s leading progressive extreme metal band that hybridized death, thrash and progressive metal with healthy doses of jazz-fusion and the avant-garde but this debut album despite a major leap forward still suffers from many too close to the source moments as the band hadn’t quite distanced themselves from the 80s American thrash scene. b The album also debuts Tomas Haake on drumming duties after the departure of Niclas Lundgren.

CONTRADICITONS COLLAPSE is quite unique in the MESHUGGAH canon as it bridges the gap between the Metallica clone origins and the extreme technical wizardry that would soon follow. This technical thrash metal workout begins to branch out from the world of Metallica and starts to employ not only the progressive metal angularity of future releases but also includes the percussive drum pattern influences of other genres such as hip hop and industrial dance. There is also a lot of alternative metal riffing and for the most part the drumming styles are less bombastic than on future albums. The album originally contained only eight tracks with the ninth “Cadaverous Mastication” taken from the debut EP and tacked on future releases.

Right from the start with the first surreal introductory guitar fueled cacophony of “Paralyzing Ignorance,” it’s clear that MESHUGGAH was moving into a stranger new arena of metal but the track reverts back to a standard thrash metal paradigm with choppy guitar riffage, blasting bass and drumming as well as a clearly James Hetfield style of vocal shouting. Despite the more loosely constructed tracks many of the heavy riffs are very similar to Metallica riffs such as “Battery” or “The Shortest Straw,” however MESHUGGAH begins to surprise even at this early stage and meanders into more progressive arenas. Little tidbits such as the sitar on “We’ll Never See The Day” show the band flirting with the bizarre but only for fleeting moments.

While the thrash riffing and vocals are highly derivative, it often sounds like MESHUGGAH is on the verge of breaking into their bizarre surreal metal style that characterizes albums such as “Chaosphere” but yet for the most part the band gets cold feet and never strays too far as if they were afraid that it would lead them into the world of uncommercial ventures. Ironic that when they finally let the freak flag fly is when they really captured the world’s attention. I dunno. I want to like this one more but it basically falls into three categories: Sounds like really good Metallica. Sounds like stoned Metallica. Sounds like Metallica on a mix of mushrooms, peyote and LSD. In the end this isn’t a bad album at all but the many riffs lifted and Hetfield vocals just rub me the wrong way and impede my enjoyment of the album as a whole.

The album was re-released with the following EP “None” and while CONTRADICTIONS COLLAPSE doesn’t constitute a horrible album per se, it doesn’t help that when played with the much more advanced “None” following, it only makes it more clear how immature this album is in comparison to the highly technical and innovative albums like “Chaosphere,” “Nothing” and “Catch Thirtythree.” For true fans, you will inevitably come to this debut eventually and it does offer some excellent tracks like the awesome “Choirs Of Destruction” that is the closest thing to their more modern style as it cranks out the unique chugging format after a downer acoustic guitar intro and a surreal vocal intro but even this one reverts back to the alt meets thrash that focuses on Metallica’s dual classical guitar harmonizing melodies. Better things to come but a decent competent debut even if it’s not outstanding.
Unitron
Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse

"Contradictions Collapse" is the debut studio album by technical thrash/extreme metal band Meshuggah. Meshuggah is probably best known for their odd time changes, skull-crushing riffs, meandering grooves, and aggressive vocals. However, that wouldn't really develop much until "Chaosphere". While much different from later releases, Meshuggah's debut still shows technical complexity and is an underrated album in Meshuggah's discography.

This album is much more thrash-based then later albums, which focus more on groove. This is what I'd call technical thrash somewhat in the vein of Metallica's "...And Justice for All" album with some groove here and there. You still have crushing riffing, but in a thrashing way. The opening song 'Paralyzing Ignorance' is one of my favorites, and is a great opener as it gives a good idea for the sound of the album. It's got some great riot chant vocals, fantastic riffs that I find it hard not to headbang to, pounding drums, and some nice basslines too. Speaking of bass, the bass is very audible in this album, just listen to the song 'Erronerous Manipulation' and you'll probably hear how strong the bass sound is. In the aforementioned song, it's not just the bass that's strong, there is some really catchy guitar. Most of the songs change up quite a bit, but it all sounds really natural. One minute you'll have a jazzy guitar solo, and then the next will be a slow passage or a crushing riff but it all flows pretty well. 'Greed' is another favorite, starting up with a march-like beat. Of course, like most of the songs though it changes up soon enough with grooving riffs and noisy soloing. This is a little thing, but it has whispering of 'The cause of greed', similar to Metallica's 'Damage Inc.'. I don't know why, but I always love little things like that.

Unlike later albums, Jens Kidman's vocals actually kind of sound like a rawer and more aggressive James Hetfield, and that perfectly fits in with the sound of the album. Besides the similarities with "...And Justice for All", there are also parts that remind me of "Killing Technology" and "Dimension Hatross"-era Voivod. Kidman sometimes has a punk vocal delivery, and the beginning riffs of 'Abnegating Cecity' remind me of some of the guitar work on those albums. There are also some upbeat jump-y riffs and grooves throughout the album reminding me of Pantera, albeit with off-kilter drum rhythms. This is especially heard in the song 'Qualms of Reality' before it goes into a slower passage with nice acoustics.

Overall, this is one killer debut album. If you want some ass-kicking tech thrash, or if you couldn't get into later Meshuggah, then this is most certainly for you. I love most of Meshuggah's discography, but this is definitely stands out from the rest of this consistently great band's output. There may be a bit too much going on for some, but I still highly recommend this to any fans of tech thrash. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
The Angry Scotsman
Meshuggah's debut album, this album is still heavily rooted in thrash metal and is a pretty far cry from their technical/progressive days. However, it is still a decent album and does showcase a bit of what is in store.

Pretty thrashy, with a lot of normal sounding riffs makes this a pretty good album to just rock out to. Despite what one may think on a first listen, Contradictions Collapse is pretty unorthodox. It does have an odd, off kilter feel in some of its thrashiness...a mild version of the extreme time signatures we'll see in the future. Fredrik's unorthodox solo style is pretty evident on this album (to those unfamiliar it's best described as robotic free jazz?), and there are some progressive moments in songs like "Qualms of Reality", "We'll Never See the Day" and "Cadeverous Mastication". While nowhere near their later levels, there is also a good amount of groovy syncopation on this album.

Favorite songs are "Paralyzing Ignorance" and the truly progressive metal song "Choirs of Devastation".

Some problems with the album are Kidman's vocals, which are pretty horrid. For me, this will not change much in the future...but here they are quite bad, and not helped by Thordendal's backing shouts. Though it does add a pretty intense punk type gang chorus feel. The bass is way too loud on this album, or the tone is not right for such prominence. Either way, it doesn't sound too good. While ambitious and experimental, yet still rooted in thrash, this album doesn't always "work". This isn't really a surprise.

While originally this was no more than a two star album, it has grown on me with time. Interesting thrash album, mildly technical (in its cold precision and not so much riffing) and a bit progressive in its song structures. Give it some time and this will turn out to be a decent album.

Three Stars

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