As I sit here I'm patiently awaiting the arrival of Chaosphere, having listened to Destroy Erase Improve practically every day for weeks now. Until it arrives however, I've got "Nothing" to enjoy.
First of all, it's Nothing (no pun) like DEI, or what I've heard of Chaosphere. In fact it's nothing like I've ever really heard before. The most noteable difference here is the absence of a bassist. The bands new 8 string guitars are so incredibly low tuned they fill that nice meaty region between bass guitar, and baritone. And how does it sound? Pretty good, and not as "thin" as you might expect. It somehow allows the true character and stylistic traits of the band to shine through, more so than their style being "super imposed" atop a typical metal band line up. The downside of course is that chords are definitely OUT. The emphasis is on rythm (polyrythms to be exact) with the guitars deviating far less from the drums than if a bassist were present to keep the "groove" going while the guitarist(s) break away and do their thing. For the most part it's a gamble that's paid off, but it does leave the album feeling a bit samey and repetitive - any given riff from any of the 10 tracks could quite easily be interchanged with any other riff, from any other song on the album! Thankfully the vocal work is every bit as grinding and raw as we've come to expect, and set to such a minimalist backing, it almost has an intimate "jam" feel to it, and more importantly no instrument is fighting for space. The drumming is still impressive, but far more straight foward in places than on DEI (the fact that double pedals are absent from most if not all of the album says it all really).
Solos are still present, albeit not as plentiful as on DEI but every bit as tastefully applied, especially on the opening track Stengah, and Closed Eye Visuals. It will all be very familiar to owners of any previous albums - very jazz/fusion influenced with a hint of more contemporary styles. Confirmation, as though it were needed, that these guys are definitely NOT idiots!
So overall? Well I won't say it's not what I expected, because the existing reviews at Amazon were a good indication as to the bands change in direction. It's simple (with a well concealed underlying complexity), up front, and unashamed of what it is. It sounds mad, it sounds broken; exactly like the machine-ravaged human soul it depicts. As I said earlier on, it pays off for the most part. The reduced lineup really allows the interesting polyrythmns and odd measures to carry the songs and creates a sound that really sums up Meshuggah, while at the same time re-inventing it. Favourite track would probably be Closed Eye Visuals, but I'm writing as I listen so that may well change in time!
If you've not had a chance to listen to this band yet, I do not recommend that you buy this album....at least not before you've bought DEI and/or Chaosphere, and decided if it's your kettle-o-fish or not. Needless to say some of you out there WILL hate it. Their new found minimalism only really "makes sense" if you've heard what exactly they've minimized in the first place! Once you've done that, you'll find "Nothing" a welcome addition to the collection. So yeah, this album will be getting some serious play-time in my car stereo.
3/5 - Heavy, it has groove, slightly repetitive at times
I bought this CD off ebay from a Russian guy. It shipped really fast and so was a nice surprise in the mail this week.
I listen to many different styles of music, I reviewed DJ Shadow for this forum a while ago, and this is one of the more interesting albums I have heard for a while. This album is multi-layered. You could enjoy it by thrashing around to it (albeit arythmically, unless you can follow the beat you genius you), or by having it as background music, or when you're annoyed just putting it on and stewing about something. But you could also analyse the songs and try to deconstruct them. This is much harder than it was for the band to atually write the songs and kudos to you if you can do it.
The vocals take a while to get used to I think, as there is just that one robotic death delivery, and some of the lyrics are cringeworthy. But the music is the heaviest groove I ever did hear.