Review Summary: Left wanting more...
Let me preface this review by saying, I am a die-hard fan. Meshuggah to me are one of the most innovative and influential bands in HISTORY, and in my opinion the most important metal band of the last 20 years. As a result, with regard to a new release, the bar for me is set quite high.
In an attempt to not make a hasty review and, taking into account the complexity found within a typical Meshuggah song, I deliberately listened to this album 20+ times before arriving at a final conclusion and writing a review. That said, this a very good album indeed but when taking into account Meshuggah's evolutive nature and overall discography, I find "Koloss" to be a lateral move at best, as opposed to one of progression.
Bottom line, it's a just a boring album. Fantastic musicianship, spot on vocals (as usual) and super-tight production all lend themselves to what is a ultimately very good album, but boring nonetheless. I'm looking for the dissonant chords, the more abrupt tempo and time-shifts, the mathematical song structures and although I can spot bits and pices of these characteristics, they are neither prevalent nor coming together in excess...to allow for the intensity and (ultimate originality) that Meshuggah is known for. It genuinely saddens me to say that I find this album bland and downright tedious to listen to.
First off, they've made a move away from the super technical riffs of the past, in favor for a more thrashy, straight forward presentation, which (subjectively) just doesn't do it for me. There's variety here...from thrash, to tech to groove but it in the end, it feels like the B-sides to Obzen.
When listening to (and analyzing) songs like "The Demons Name is Surveillance", "The Hurt that Finds you First" and "Swarm", I appreciate the minimalistic approach but where are the subtle, yet complex structural changes that only Meshuggah can develop? Why aren't these songs developing and evolving the way I expect them too? Yes, some might (and already have) said that they are going for a more "organic" sound. What does that mean exactly? Do more oddball time-signatures, polyrhythms and poly-metered riffs correlate with an INorganic sound?
Secondly, Haake is simply not bringing it the way I expect him too at this point in his career. In my opinion, he is the most technically proficient drummer alive today (other than maybe Neil Peart) and an absolute prodigy. On Koloss, He just sounds lazy and uninspired. I am so accustomed to being blown away by his (off) timing and utterly original compositions that when I hear him play alongside the tempo set by (a) guitar and can actually follow what he is doing, I am left disappointed.
Thirdly and, related to the above points, the songs feel under-developed; incomplete. There is some really solid material here but it is either too short or just forgettable, relative to their previous efforts.
This album doesn't hold a candle to Obzen; "Electric Red", "Pineal Gland Optics" and "Dancers to a Discordant System" is some of the best and most forward-thinking material the band has ever produced and with the exception of the beautifully complex (yet frustratingly short) "Demiurge" and the crushing and brooding atmospherics of "Behind the Sun", not a single track can hold up to anything on the aforementioned album. Its not necessarily about complexity or the lack thereof rather, Obzen feels more complete, more well-thought out while Koloss feels underdeveloped, one-faceted and frankly, under-whelming. Its quite possible that they deliberately moved away from complexity and focused purely on groove-laden thrash (to simply thumb their noses at the "Djent" movement), but considering that there is some of the former here, it feels incomplete...almost like a tease. Moreover, Meshuggah tends to not care or be influenced by the "scene", their critics or their counter-parts.
To me, the album feels like more of a follow-up to Chaosphere and prelude to Nothing as opposed to a step-forward from Obzen.
In sum...a very good metal album, but just a good Meshuggah release. In a perfect world, they would take this album back into the studio and develop it into the beast that it could/should be.