Review Summary: Scrutinize. Multiply. Improve.
Meshuggah are one crazy band. They've pioneered a style of metal that very few have managed to replicate well as well managing to make sure each album of theirs represents a great leap forward in style each time. Above all this though Chaosphere
represents perhaps the greatest yet most underappreciated stylistic change in Meshuggah's sound and is also one of, if not the, strongest albums in their back catalogue.
What was hinted at in Destroy Erase Improve
is immediately built upon and improved ten fold on this record. The songwriting is far more organic and layered than the previous record taking a more classical approach to the composition as opposed to the textured approach of DEI
while still forcing it into the rhythmic motion of jazz with a greater emphasis on the speed of thrash, the contrardictory principles shaking the songs down to their foundations. Contradictions collapse, structures distintegrate and the song reconstitutes itself into a new form. That's the beauty of this record; structures evolve from asexual reproduction, trains of thought receed and reform into new patterns before being stretched, ground down and recalculated nearly ad infinitum. Screaming out of this process of deconstruction and reconstruction come wildly atonal harmonies and solos as they struggle against the constant yet chaotic rhythm. It's more a mocking salute to the pitched emphasised classical structures of old rather than a last gasp chance at percieved sanity. All in all it gives the album a real sense of unity and an incredible flow but more than that the (re)cyclical, structural motif that is spread across the album in one form or another is representative of the Buddhist beliefs that permeate deeply into Meshuggah's sound and lyrics at their craziest. Couple that with Jens putting out possibly the best vocal performance of his entire career and what's created is an organic, throbbing nightmare of a record yet also represents Meshuggah's entire career better than ever.
The cover art then is apt, the brain trapped in a cage that Meshuggah wish for the listener to destroy by precisely creating this type of record. At the same time it could be construed that the cover art is emblematic of the band's struggle to push beyond their own boundaries as much as the listener's and on this record they achieve this and so much more. Chaosphere
stands as the band's most robust statement; a progressive, complex beast that hints at both old and new yet stands out as Meshuggah's most primal, raw and perhaps pure representation of their sound. It may seem contradictory to say this but through all of its contradictions, it becomes all things to all the qualities of good music. Highly recommended.
-New Millenium Cyanide Christ
-The Mouth Licking What You've Bled