Review Summary: Heavier than the Colosseum itself.
Ask any of the bands out there trying to emulate the inimitable elements of Meshuggah’s music. They’d be recalling crude conceptualism, fundamentals they’d probably call them: polyrhythm (actually polymetre), the generalist notions of complexity and technicality – yet none of these groups come even close to generating anything Meshuggah have, or seem to be able to summon. Why? Now, with Koloss
, those kids are going to be scratching their heads thinking “now what the *** do we do?” Indeed, the album is a head scratcher because it’s immense, yet amazingly organic in tenor thanks to a massive production aesthetic and relatively uncomplicated musical design. Less becomes more. And all the while we still can hear a band whose concepts of rhythm are the best in the metal world, even though when stripped down, their simplicities roam about in unpredictable husks.
So it sounds like business as usual, and rightly, it is. Yet it’s with a certain degree of energy that’s hard to contest, even to the extent that obZen
did four years ago. It’s beyond this reviewer how a band manages to re-evaluate predominantly the same modus operandi over and over with pleasing outcomes nearly every time. It’s certainly not the heaviest of all metals, yet it’s probably become one of the most homogenous, given the stellar performances of each member, particularly Jens Kidman who sounds as commanding as ever, whether distorted or not. Together their energy is unswerving, save for the closing track, “The Last Vigil” which further reinforces the shell shock after-effects you’re feeling following 50 minutes of distressed ear drums. On its own, the track could be argued as being conclusive stuffing; within context, it’s the calming, polite and minimal way to wrap up, just as “Sum” did in closing Catch Thirtythree
. And of course, there are true standouts: “Behind the Sun” with plodding Nothing
-esque pace; “Marrow”, “Combustion’s” new weightier cousin; and “Demiurge” the summation, the final reach of destruction. Many of them end with two or three wholesome seconds of the room coming to grips with what just occurred in it, something which we seldom hear in their overtly processed mechanisms in previous work. This room tone, subtle as it is, lines the core of the album, helping it breathe and clench.
It all boils down to the result of a band playing together, in harmony, with the aim of playing simplified pieces, honed and perfected to emphasize the critical elements that make their music revolve in the first place. From the simple grooves in “Swarm” or “Do Not Look Down”, to the drawn out hyper-measures of tracks like “The Hurt that Finds You First” – it’s all here. Indeed not everything they touch turns to gold, it just topples instead.