MESHUGGAH — None (review)

MESHUGGAH — None album cover EP · 1994 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
UMUR
"None" is an EP release by Swedish metal act Meshuggah. The EP was released through Nuclear Blast Records in November 1994. It bridges the gap between the band´s debut and sophomore studio albums "Contradictions Collapse (1991)" and "Destroy Erase Improve (1995)". Since the release of "Contradictions Collapse (1991)" rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström has joined Meshuggah, making the band a five-piece. Lead vocalist Jens Kidman has therefore been relieved of his rhythm guitar duties, and solely performs vocals on "None".

Considering the rhythmic complexity of Meshuggah´s music that was probably a good idea, but compared to the technical thrash metal style on "Contradictions Collapse (1991)", the material on "None" are actually generally a little less structurally complex and more focused on heavy mid-paced grooves. In contemporary reviews the music style on "None" was often compared to thrash/groove metal releases by artists like Pantera, Machine Head, and Sepultura, but while there are both heavy riffs and groove laden rhythms in spades on "None", Meshuggah are ultimately a completely different sounding beast to the mentioned contemporary artists (who themselves would also be wrong to lumb in together). This is challenging, odd-metered, and unconventional thrash/groove metal. Meshuggah had not found their signature sound yet, and the music on "None" is not yet as hypnotic, repetitive, and alien sounding as later releases by the band...but it would be downright wrong to label this "just another 90s thrash/groove metal release" or normal in any way.

Meshuggah had a vision to challenge their audience (and themselves) from day one and "None" is no different in that respect to their other releases. "None" is a relatively long EP featuring 5 tracks and a total playing time of 33:14 minutes. Around 6 minutes of that time are just the band making noises and some silence and therefore closing track "Aztec Two-Step" actually only features 4-5 minutes of music, and not 10:43 minutes as the tracklist says. "Humiliative", "Sickening", and "Gods of Rapture" are all groove laden, heavy, and technical thrash/groove metal tracks, while "Ritual" is probably the most unique and different sounding song in the band´s discography. I wouldn´t exactly call "Ritual" a power ballad or anything like that, but it is unusually melodic and even features Kidman breaking out of his angry James Hetfield impersonation, singing some clean vocal sections...now that´s a first...and a last..."Aztec Two-Step" is an industrial tinged thrash/groove metal track.

"None" features a powerful, clear, and detailed sound production, and Meshuggah were already at this point an exceptionally well playing act, so while the EP isn´t a perfect release by any means there is enough quality here to fully warrant a 3.5 star (70%) rating.
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