I have a lot of respect for the long standing reign of MESHUGGAH and their impact on the world of metal. They were at the forefront of introducing groove to metal in ways no one else ever thought of, and they’re coming out swinging just as hard on The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast Records, October 7). This album is a very, VERY stark contrast to what’s floating through the music industry these days. With very little to the production elements, consisting almost solely of drums, bass, guitars, and vocals, it really stacks up in opposition against the almost hyperactive details of many of today’s releases (Synthesizers, electronic glitch noises, yada yada).
I have to be truthful here, first couple of listens through, I wasn’t really into it. This is a very monotone album from start to finish. It pretty much has one speed, and that speed is “oddly syncopated rhythms, and the occasional weird guitar solo or guitar noise”. It was cool for the first song or two, then I found myself being distracted by anything BUT the music. It wasn’t really pulling me in. However, after repeated listens to get past the initial distaste, I start to get it now. It’s almost hypnotic in nature, and trance like. It’s not meant to be something everyone is going to love, it’s meant to be MESHUGGAH. That’s it. Just them in their raw state, and that’s something I can respect in every way. No bells and whistles to act as a crutch or cover anything up, just solid songs to give the listening party a very bare bones glance at the machine that is this band.
The overall sound production on this album is really foreign. From what I gathered via the studio updates, they tracked it live, which is pretty much the exact polar opposite of what every metal band does. It gives it this very “jam room” feel. Not that it’s unprofessional or “practice” sounding, but it’s a very “I’m in the room with them” kind of mix, and it feels real and natural. No ridiculously insane shotgun blast snares, no hyper grindy and subwoofer laden bass, and no overbearing layer upon layer upon layer of extra guitars and vocals. While elements like that don’t necessarily make a record sound BAD, I can certainly hear how they detract from the actual band, the very element that makes the music exist in the first place.
Honestly, this isn’t a release I’m overly-crazy about. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but who am I to say that it is inherently “bad”? No one, that’s who. Based on certain objective factors we can look at, we can infer a relative rating that would be fair to this body of work, even if I’m not a fan. Production? Solid. Absolutely rock solid. Originality? You can definitely tell it’s their work with that distinct fingerprint MESHUGGAH leaves on their songs. Repeat value? The Violent Sleep of Reason is certainly worth more than one spin to catch anything you may have missed before. So, great sound, original content, and a replay value to keep an avid fan, and someone relatively new to the band interested? I’d say that ranks pretty high.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Born In Dissonance”, “Ivory Tower”, “Our Rage Won’t Die”