During their three decade career, Swedish icons Meshuggah have pioneered a distinct low-end sound powered by polyrhythmic gymnastics and extraordinary technicality that has rightfully been held aloft by the metal world. Even more bewildering and complicated than their music is trying to put their untouchable array of works in any discernible order of merit. But here we go…
8) Rare Trax (2001)
It’s a testament to the Swedes’ sheer excellence that even their rarities collection is essential listening. The punishing melee of War saw the band experimenting with programmed drums that would further revolutionise their sound on subsequent releases, while the three tracks from their eponymous EP displayed signs of the extraordinary band they’d become.
7) Contradictions Collapse (1991)
Taking the bulging thrash of Metallica’s …And Justice For All and mutating it beyond almost all recognition, the Umeå band laid a blueprint with their debut’s jazzy rhythmic complexities, cutting-edge sound and ominous worldview. A quarter of a century later, the likes of Internal Evidence still sound completely thrilling.
6) Koloss (2012)
Such is Meshuggah’s standard, that their most recent release doesn’t even crack their top five albums. All of the band’s enviable qualities were there for all to see on Koloss, while the hulking Demiurge and sinister Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion saw them still striving to push metal further into new realms.
5) Catch Thirtythree (2005)
Following on from the insane 21-minute-long I (2004), this single 47-minute piece of music is the band’s most experimental and genre-defying release. Using programmed drums to make Tomas Haake’s rhythms even more incomprehensible as well as all manner of textures and tricks, Catch Thirtythree was an incomparable, hellish descent into the abyss.
4) Chaosphere (1998)
Upping the heaviness and technicality, New Millennium Cyanide Christ and Neurotica are still undeniably catchy despite sounding like a horde of sentient robotic vikings on a murderous berserker frenzy. Listen to the end of closer Elastic and see whether your brain will be transported to a higher plane or simply dissolve under the strain.
- The 30 Greatest Metal Hammer Front Covers Of The Last 30 Years
- Testament's Chuck Billy: the 10 records that changed my life
- 1986: Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and the year thrash broke
- The 5 Worst Rock Star Sex Tapes Ever Made
3) Nothing (2002)
In 2002 the band slowed the tempo, upped the guitars from seven strings to eight, and unleashed a monolithic, discordant beast on the world via the help of Ozzfest. From the djent-spawning punch of Rational Gaze and oppressive Obsidian to Straws Pulled At Random’s immediacy, Nothing would leave an indelible mark on metal.
2) Destroy Erase Improve (1995)
Years ahead of its time and still proving a fertile hunting ground for countless bands to borrow and rip-off ideas from, Destroy Erase Improve saw the Swedes take the ideas explored on the previous year’s None EP and engineer a futuristic, innovative metallic form that changed metal forever. Mindbogglingly brilliant.
1) obZen (2008)
In a career of staggering achievements, obZen takes the highest accolade. On Pravus and meandering Dancers To A Discordant System, the riffs of Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström were played with even more scientific precision, while vocalist Jens Kidman delivered a career best performance during the merciless ferocity of the band’s finest moment, Bleed.
Meshuggah are touring Europe later this year at the following dates.
Nov 22: Berlin Astra, Germany
Nov 23: Amsterdam Melkweg Max, Netherlands
Nov 24: Tilburg 013, Netherlands
Nov 25: Antwerp Trix, Belgium
Nov 26: Stuttgart LKA Longhorn, Germany
Nov 27: Lyon Transbordeur, France
Nov 29: Madrid La Riviera, Spain
Nov 30: Barcelona Razzmatazz, Spain
Dec 01: Montpellier Rokstore, France
Dec 02: Bologna Estragon, Italy
Dec 03: Milan Alcatraz, Italy
Dec 05: Pratteln Z7, Switzerland
Dec 06: Paris Bataclan, France
Dec 07: Cologne Essigrabrik, Germany
Dec 08: Hamburg Markthalle, Germany
Jan 12: Bristol O2 Academy, UK
Jan 13: Birmingham O2 Institute, UK
Jan 14: Nottingham Rock City, UK
Jan 15: Glasgow O2 ABC, UK
Jan 17: Belfast Limelight, UK
Jan 18: Dublin Vicar Street, Ireland (upgraded from Academy)
Jan 19: Manchester O2 Ritz, UK
Jan 20: London O2 Forum, UK
Tickets for the Meshuggah tour are available now.