Review Summary: Not sure if Meshuggah is still willing to continue.
Meshuggah is an extraordinary band. Their mathematical grooves and mechanical technicality garnered them one of the most unique aesthetics in metal. On their latest album, their music is still executed with pinpoint precision, whether it be the relentless chugging guitars, Thomas Haake reinventing drumming extravagance once again, or Jens howling insightful lyrics. Furthermore, the production is the definition of perfection here, truly encapsulating crushing robotics in sonic form.
However, their downfall grows more apparent throughout the album. And no, I do not mean "they haven't changed their aesthetic". However what I do mean is:
The riffs sound limp and powerless, lacking any sort of punch(remember Rational Gaze? Bleed? Well, not anymore), more like a boring melting pot of their previous riffs, with far less imagination related to their core aesthetic. Additionally, the atmospheric guitars which added critical nuance in every other Meshuggah album, now are reduced in featuring, and when they are featured, they either sound out of place(because their production hasn't changed to fit the newer general production) or lacking and not nuanced enough. Another point of criticism I have is about Jens' vocals. Why is it beginning to be a generic death metal voice? Is it old age wearing down our poor man? Lastly, the structuring is absolutely killing me. Meshuggah's structuring seemed repetitive before as well, but it was restless and engaging. Now, it's boring beyond belief and actually repetitive, thanks to the already weak musical features of the album, and the lack of thought put into the structure, as opposed to before.
I am not saying there is no light, because that would be wrong. "Clockworks" is an excellent, imaginative song, with ambitious structuring and a new take on Meshuggah's aesthetic, while not forgetting to pack an energetic punch, and twist the brain with mathematical riffs and unsettling leads. "Nostrum" is a top-notch song, winding in with atmospheric leads in one of the most innovative ways seen with Meshuggah, and showcases everything that a Meshuggah piece should be, on par with "Clockworks"(Mountainous riffs, the leads, the tastefully sterile vocals, groany production finally showing its colors, etc).
But yeah, it's not their best album.
(Note: this review was edited on 11/18/2019 in order to meet the comments' criticisms)