Why I Love... Meshuggah


“They turned the metal world upside and made everyone scratch their heads and say, ‘What the fuck?’ To begin with they were a cool name to drop but a lot of people couldn’t stand more than one or two tracks without going crazy, like it was some kind of weird sensory deprivation version of heavy music. But once you invest the time into it and pay attention to the complexity of the arrangements, and how everything reconciles within that, they’re unbeatable. A lot of bands go off on that technical tip but there’s no songs and no structure . Meshuggah riffs build in movements, almost like a classical piece. When music evolves, it’s important to build on that original template, but Meshuggah were so far ahead of their time, they have no need to evolve. They stand alone. ”

Meshuggah: technical masters

Meshuggah: technical masters


“When it comes to polyrhythms and the whole modern technical metal movement, all of the bands that followed in the first wave of post-Meshuggah technical stuff like Sikth and Dillinger Escape Plan, I’m sure they were all influenced by Meshuggah. I remember reading an interview with Deftones in Metal Hammer when I was a teenager, and their guitarist, Steph Carter, said that Destroy Erase Improve was the album that made him want that heavy guitar tone. So their influence stretches a long way.”


“Meshuggah are technical metal, but they’re insanely heavy, too. That concrete slab heaviness is what we were going for in Heart Of A Coward. We’re into Pantera and Metallica too, but Meshuggah is a huge part of what we do. If you don’t like those huge grooves and huge riffs, you have no business listening to modern heavy music. How can you like crushing music and then not get a stonking boner when you hear Catch Thirtythree? There must be something wrong with you.”


“In the best possible way, it’s like putting their CDs on over the PA. They always sound polished and tight as fuck. It’s almost mechanical. It’s just so hypnotic, watching them play. When Meshuggah play Bleed, everyone watches Tomas Haake play the drums… that song is the new benchmark for technical drummers. When kids put auditions up on YouTube, it’s always, ‘I can play Bleed… faster than the record!’ Ha ha! But you could spend the whole show watching any member of Meshuggah. They’re all in synch, it’s so tightly locked. I imagine them like cogs in a machine or a big watch, and everything’s moving perfectly in time with everything else.”


“What I love about Jens is that Meshuggah could easily be an instrumental band and get away with it, but Jens steps back when they have those huge instrumental sections and just lets the music take over. He’s almost like a conductor, an evil conductor that introduces each movement in the song. He’s still a frontman but he doesn’t hog the limelight. He blends in with the band and it’s really powerful. Everyone in the band is world class, so his approach makes total sense.”


“They have retained their credibility throughout their career, and I think that’s partly because they’ve never shat out a crap, commercial record. If anything, they’ve got more complex over time. It’s great to see that someone’s flying that flag and still getting bigger. They’ve become an institution. Ultimately they’ll always do what they want and then everyone else will just follow suit and try to copy it. Even if other bands succeed in copying what they do, everyone will just say, ‘That’s a Meshuggah riff!’ and that says it all, doesn’t it?”

Heart Of A Coward’s new album, Deliverance, is out now via Century Media. Meshuggah will release a new album in 2016

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.