Review Summary: Hey Djent kids, listen up. Your metal teachers Meshuggah are back, and class is in session.
Whether it was a conscious effort or not, Koloss is probably a direct response of Meshuggah’s feelings on spawning this whole “djent” movement. With Koloss they have said, "Go ahead and take our 8 string, polyrhythmic sounds and turn it into this ambient, “core-type” music. Fine. We will show you what our music is truly all about. It has nothing to do with how low we can tune our guitars, or how many crazy synchopated patterns we can play." As a result, with Koloss the tone of the guitars has slightly changed to a sludgier sound. Furthermore, they even have a couple songs that use 6 string guitars on the new album. All this combines into one of their most “organic” toned, heavy as all hell, and most importantly, unmistakably “Meshuggah” album ever.
What has always separated Meshuggah from everyone else in metal, including the djent clones out there, is their cyclical use of meter displacement. They layer parts in their music that are in different meters, and have different phrase lengths, so they line up on different beats against the main pulse of the song through each repetition. Repetition is key here, as it takes cycles for the beats to move around in relation to one another.
With Koloss, we of course find Meshuggah making use of their signature techniques, but also with more emphasis on form and structure. The two lead singles, Do Not Look Down, and Break Those Bones Whos Sinews Gave it Motion, are probably the perfect examples of this emphasis on form. You almost get sense of a straight forward verse, chorus, bridge, chorus structure that is found in a lot of popular music. This makes Koloss, on the surface, a little more accessible than previous works. Underneath however, Meshuggah is as complex as ever.
Scattered throughout Koloss we find moments that are reminiscent of all their previous work. The solo in Marrow sounds like it is straight from Destroy, Erase, Improve/Caosphere. The crazy, speedy The Demons Name is Survelince, is aesthetically reminiscent of Bleed from Obzen. At the end of Do Not Look Down there are some moments which remind me of the more melodic moments of Nothing, specifically the ending of Straws Pulled at Random. The Hurt that Finds You First, has an awesome drum part that, like a section from I (staring around 5:40 on I), plays a ridiculous blast like beat on the snare. None of this, I must point out, means Meshuggah is running out of ideas. Rather they have had a chance to reflect on what they have accomplished in their career, created moments that allude to it, and then expanded it into something that is nothing short of brilliant.
At this point in their career, it is amazing that even Meshuggah was able to achieve an album like Koloss. Koloss follows on the heels of their most successful album to date, Obzen, which was critically acclaimed for its great songs that seemed to represent so well many of the elements from their entire discography. But Koloss takes Obzen to the infinite level. It is Meshuggah at its heaviest, sludgiest, grooviest, progiest, and all the while maintains interest and sense of direction. What surprised me the most about this album is, for the first time, they have produced an album where every single song has something incredibly unique to say. To put it simply, this is an album without a single weak track. As a fan of Meshuggah’s entire discography, even I can admit that almost every one of their albums has a song or two that sound a little redundant, and I find myself skipping from time to time. With Koloss, this just doesn’t happen.
There is much more to be said about this album, as it has some of the subtlest moments ever found in Mehsuggah’s music. Mehsuggah is a band that will be studied and remembered for a long time. They truly have created something unique in the world of music, especially when it comes to rhythmic theory. Koloss continues this tradition and is another great entry into their catalog. It has once again reminded us why we are all just students, and Meshuggah are the teachers.