Meshuggah
The Violent Sleep of Reason


3.0
good

Review

by Ben Kuettel STAFF
October 6th, 2016 | 1411 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Chaos dominates, inspiration falters

The opinion that Meshuggah have been releasing the same album over and over again for the past twenty years is sure to be met with disdain from their followers, even if there is some truth to the statement. Still, it’s not exactly accurate. While rigidly adhering to their original aesthetic, the group has shaken things up enough to remain engrossing to listen to; an increased presence of ambience and melody among the crushing heaviness kept things refreshing over the years. Diversifying their sound carried the band forward, with this progress making for some of their most memorable moments and strongest material.

The Violent Sleep of Reason brings much of the interesting songwriting ideas to a crashing halt unfortunately, resembling the relentless nature of Chaosphere while being largely inferior overall. This is Meshuggah going back to the basics, with their most straightforward and least progressive material yet. Almost entirely comprised of crushing riffs and polyrhythmic breakdowns, the band have now gone full throttle with punishing grooves aplenty. Does this result in an impressive display of unrelenting instrumental prowess, or a band nearing an inspirational dead end? The answer ultimately lies somewhere in the middle.

Die-hard fans need not worry about being let down, as all hallmarks of another solid Meshuggah offering are there: driving groove metal madness and Thomas Haake’s always phenomenal drumming. Those looking for more dynamic sides of the group’s music, whether it be an ambient reprieve or eerie guitar lead, will ultimately find little to chew on save for the surreal outro of album highlight “Stifled.” The band instead keeps things massively heavy, furiously performing their instruments with the always intricate, machine-like qualities they’ve become known for. Despite no lack of impressive playing, the compositions themselves carry much less of the riveting nature seen from recent predecessors.

Most of the good ideas the band had for this seems to have gone in to album opener “Clockworks,” with the following tracks plummeting into monotony with hardly any distinguishing qualities to differ one from the other. Each track is still solid by itself, but there’s just not enough personality or creativity present that the band have proven to be capable of showing. The tribal, repetitive, pounding qualities of Meshuggah’s music are there, but sapped of the personality and unpredictability we’ve come to expect. There are a few dissonant guitar leads for a quick dose of variety, and soloing sections are ultimately the most memorable aspects of …Sleep of Reason. The title track and “Nostrum” in particular benefit from wonderfully chaotic guitar solos accompanied by frenzied drumming all over the kit.

There’s no question that the expected instrumental virtuosity is still in full effect, frantic tempo changes and guitar wizardry galore lending to the compelling moments of high octane opener “Clockworks,” and a few others. While these sorts of highlights are rewarding, they are few and far in between here. The cracks began to show in Koloss, but it still thrived and had new ideas worth experiencing, but it’s clear now that a major overhaul is in order. The band’s hot streak from masterpiece Destroy Erase Improve to ObZen, and to an extent Koloss was an exhilarating evolution to behold. Unfortunately, Meshuggah are now at somewhat of a stalemate. In an effort to emphasize pummeling metal madness and been-there-done-that showcases of instrumental technicality, a part of the personality is taken away in the process.

The ambient reprieves coupled with increasingly technical grooving metal made the robotic, grooving sound of Meshuggah interesting to listen to for nearly two decades. Lesser groups emerging after the success of “Bleed” who have since followed in the band’s footsteps could not compete with these songwriting skills, which have unfortunately fallen to the wayside here. A monotonous vocal performance doesn’t help matters despite some insightful lyrics, and it’s left to the higher strings of the guitars and variety of drums played to give things an interesting new flavor. While the instrumental mastery still impresses as always, the end result remains enjoyable but ultimately missing a key aspect of what made the driving, mechanical sound of Meshuggah so worthwhile in the first place.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2016


15323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3vxIoCOvxQ&list=PLB4brr7vf-P7kx6j8S4UP4WlDDZLBpC5f



The two singles and some videos

Digging: Slowdive - Slowdive

DungeonBoy
October 6th 2016


2544 Comments


*geese*

Digging: Isenordal - Shores of Mourning

Shadowmire
October 6th 2016


4186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

crazy good record imo

emester
October 6th 2016


8079 Comments


what do expect at this point really. Meshuggah is pretty much taking a page out of the 2000's era motorhead playbook. Keep on releasing solid but unremarkable material.

Digging: Ensnared - Dysangelium

supremejelly
October 6th 2016


312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, can't wait to hear this. I've come to terms that Meshuggah will probably never return to playing with dynamics like DEI, which is a shame. But if this is better than Koloss I'll be happy.

DungeonBoy
October 6th 2016


2544 Comments


Solid review dude, you bring up some very good points. This record as you say is pummeling. This is the heaviest they've ever sounded throughout in my opinion, for better or worse.

DungeonBoy
October 6th 2016


2544 Comments


the real question is... who ordered the pre-sale with the mask?

Hawks
October 6th 2016


48470 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wasn't a fan of the 2 previous albums, hope this one is better.

Digging: Ulver - The Assassination of Julius Caesar

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2016


7429 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3 | Sound Off

Will read the review asap



Saw the rating though, a 3 is rather harsh, that was my instantaneous assessment on first listen, but with subsequent jams, the album turned out to be a very slow grower, strictly between 3-3.5.

Digging: Hundred Visions - Brutal Pueblo

Geadom
October 6th 2016


3695 Comments


So DEI and Nothing will still be the definitive Meshuggah albums, I see

DarkSideOfLucca
October 6th 2016


6143 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review, but I disagree. It takes a few listens, but each song really does have it's own identity. MonstroCity is catchy and will be a fun crowd pleaser, By the Ton is insane heavy and unpredictable madness, Our Rage Won't Die brings back the thrash...I dunno man, I freaking love this album. New Meshuggah > old Meshuggah. I might have to review this.

MO
October 6th 2016


21588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

rules hard

DarkSideOfLucca
October 6th 2016


6143 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This 3 is making me want to 5 this.

digs795
October 6th 2016


52 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

ivory fucking tower

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2016


15323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've had this promo for a while and jammed it many times, it's always been around 2.7-3.5 rating range for me. Remember 3 = good, if I thought this was average or not even worth it it'd rate 2.5 or lower.



Go for it Lucca!

Geadom
October 6th 2016


3695 Comments


Any stream for this?

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2016


15323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

No, if one becomes available I'll comment the link.

Spacesh1p
October 6th 2016


6386 Comments


Not a great review in my opinion. You use a ton of words to basically make the same point over and over.

Digging: Andy Stott - Passed Me By

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2016


15323 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm driving home a single point and felt like I needed to support it with a lot of evidence and explanation to justify what I'm saying. This is one of my favorite metal bands and it felt, well weird writing this so I might've gone too far in some places.

Thor
October 6th 2016


10252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm on my seventh listen of this and idk this is their best LP since Catch 33



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