Seven albums in, and you might be forgiven for thinking that Meshuggah are losing momentum. You, of course, are wrong. Although their rhythmic and syncopated approach to metal is now the backbone of the djent genre and the many bands who label themselves as such, Meshuggah throw aggression and fury into the mix in a way that elevates Koloss above the many hordes of their contemporaries.
Their latest release is an able demonstration of how these Swedish extreme metallers have managed to stay relevant and exciting, despite being part of a massive, expanding metal movement. Where 2008’s masterful obZen was a frantic, high-paced release packed with some of Meshuggah’s more memorable moments, such as ‘Bleed’, Koloss, by and large, is a much slower affair that sees the band acquainting themselves with their groovier side. Album opener, ‘I Am Colossus’ is a lurching mess filled with off-kilter riffs and Jens Kidman’s instantly identifiable growl; guitar parts are technically dense and move between the shambling opening gambit and mid-tempo sections where it sounds like they’re tumbling over each other only to slit their own throats.
Pacier affairs like the brutal ‘The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance’ and ‘Swarm’ are few and far between, but are grisly undertakings. The majority of the album, however, is much heavier and darker for its lunatic-like representation of metal. This is never so apparent as on ‘Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion’, a track saturated with a groaning and devastating groove. While ‘Break Those Bones…’ may demonstrate the more weighty musicianship on Koloss, the album is still willing to jump between the darker climes of Meshuggah’s sound and the comparatively jubilant slid riff found in ‘Marrow’. This is an album that benefits so much from an eccentric yet universally crushing set of tracks.
What’s more, Meshuggah snub any scene-setting ambience or filler, as can be often found on albums with a conspicuously heavy progressive element, and instead have written a record of back-to-back standout songs; ending with the clean instrumental of ‘The Last Vigil’ smashes home the brutality of the remainder of the album.
Koloss is groaning with a majestic and demonic smorgasbord of songs, at once noticeably part of Meshuggah’s pantheon of fucked-up deities but also disturbingly eclectic and varied. If you’re yet to have been convinced by a Meshuggah release, Koloss will undoubtedly demonstrate the continued relevance of this veteran band’s music in a world saturated with imitators and vacuity.