Nothing (Nuclear Blast)
by Martin Popoff
Could they be the next big thing? Certainly the skepticism must wane given the success of Slayer, then Marilyn Manson and Fear Factory, then Slipknot. Indeed, the hard, complicated music of Meshuggah has played arenas with Tool and, as Nothing hit the street, was the featured attack on the second stage at Ozzfest. How Swede it is. Nothing is the long-awaited follow-up to ’98’s Chaosphere, and the patented stun gun approach is intact and back-cracking, even if there’s a slower, airier, trippier vibe at work. The three-legged, sleep-deprived, angel-dusted lope of the band’s calculus rock becomes double-underlined by the band’s use of eight-string guitars, or rather, seven-strings configured with an eighth string, as they wait for Nevborn to deliver their fetching new axes (along with new Spinal Tap amps that go to 11).
The end result is a batch of songs that sound more chainsawed than Jackyl, and oddly (caution: chicken and egg argument coming), somewhat more akin to specific characteristics of nü metal, even if no pierced’n’tattooed mallrat would be caught dead trying to mainframe these polyrhythms (riffs are often “poly” while drums elusively find something that must be called 4/4). Once more, Meshuggah have reaffirmed turf that has been their own for a dozen sporadic years, and once more the music is a marvel, if not accessible by most definitions. Still, the clearly separated production tones and the stringier structures might constitute just enough of a door crack to let in today’s (and tomorrow’s) extreme music fan, one that must necessarily elevate and surf from a teen and pre-teen generation hard-wired for quick synaptic responses.
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