Review Summary: Into the complex Hershey highway of chaos.
If there's one album where substance meets style in a glorious dissonance - it is in Meshuggah's classic album Destroy Erase Improve. Released in 1995 - it was a big step for the band that was known more for sounding like a mix of Pantera and Metallica with European metal sensibilities. They then started carving a style of their own when they released their EP None which showcased their affinity for jazz like improvisations and odd time signatures. In Destroy Erase Improve, the band just continued with evolving their style and showing their virtuosity in intricate written songs that ventures into themes that bands like Fear Factory were known for.
The poly-rhythm grooves and how they deliver it in an uptempo fashion reared its ugly head with the first song "Future Breed Machine" which showcased Fredrik Thordendal's Holdsworth meets Robert Fripp fusion solos and interludes. Jens' vocal delivery have always been ubiquitous in its range added that machine like buzzsaw trait in its intensity and Haake's drumming was the rock that held it all. The same formula were again shown in songs like "Transfixion" and "Vanished". The tempo is unrelenting but underneath the aggression: the musicianship of the band shines that has gained them respect from fellow metal bands and jazz/fusion musicians.
The band's ability to write head crushing mid-tempo songs in such a twisted and discordant manner while still maintaining the melodic aspect of the song were displayed in songs like "Soul Burn", "Inside What's Within Behind" and "Suffer In Truth". The controlled groove that these songs exhibit had that San Francisco thrash influence that only enhanced the songs' makeup but also added an element that still respects the influence it had on the band when they were in their infancy as songwriters.
The albums production engineered by future Darkane producer Daniel Bergstrand and mixed by seminal Swede stalwart Fredrik Nordstrom complimented the dry, bleak and static feel of the album. The sound landscapes they helped tweaked added that precise methodical grit the album had overall.
While the band went further down in its complexity and harshness with "Chaosphere" - the sublime mix of good songwriting and absurdity really was perfected in this album. These album along with "None" and "Chaosphere" in some aspect are/were the definitive body of work that Meshuggah will be known for when they are talked about in regards to their work.