“Served up as ‘hi-def’ – but should that be hi-deaf? The raw, frantic energy might be too much for some”: Meshuggah’s Chaosphere 25th Anniversary edition

Groundbreaking third album keeps pushing boundaries with lively remaster

Meshuggah - Chaosphere
(Image: © Atomic Fire)

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Meshuggah were never a basic metal band. The signs for polyrhythmic development and their approach to vocals and guitars from a different angle were apparent in debut album Contractions Collapse (1991) and its follow-up Destroy, Erase, Improve, released in 1995.

But in 1998, their third record Chaosphere plotted a new curve, along lines of progressive hardcore, industrial music and jazz fusion, shifting slightly away from their death and thrash influences. Whether it was conscious or not, they hit upon their own kind of infectious, rhythmic grid.

On each song, every instrument in the group – and Jens Kidman’s barked vocal – adhered to a pattern, locked into a mathematical mesh where subtle, telepathic compositional changes seemed to occur more frequently, and confidently, than before. These changes often tripped a listener up, but still bound them happily within a groove topped with sly, seven-string atonal solos that would become one of many signature details.

Here’s another: “We kept the 4/4 beat going so we could still headbang,” said drummer and lyricist Tomas Haake, but the 4/4 would have competing guitar chugs and snare hits to throw you off, such as on New Millennium Cyanide Christ. This was the shape of things to come for the band, and eventually the birth of the immensely successful metal sub-genre, djent.

Recorded in Dug Out Studios by melodic death metal producer Daniel Bergstrand and Meshuggah’s lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, Chaosphere has now had a 25th anniversary tidy-up, and is issued on coloured splatter and circle vinyl. (In 2008 a Reloaded version appeared with a brightened quality.)

The new edition is served up as ‘hi-def’, and mixed way louder (should that be hi-deaf?). The raw, frantic energy of The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled and the mad, avant-garde moments of the relentless, 15-minute Elastic might be too much for some listeners, but wow, what a way to push a boundary forward. 

Chaosphere: 25th Anniversary Edition is on sale now via Atomic Fire.

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.