Posted by .

I discovered Meshuggah in the early ages of my Metal rebirth. You know, that time when you discover Metal and find yourself growing into the culture and leaving behind the false ideas of the sugar covered pop cultures and fake gangsta’s selling songs about how better off in life they are than you while setting their ancestors back with the updated use of their own hated slur. At least that’s what happened to me. Yes, at one point I listened to acts like Matchbox Twenty, Jay-Z and even the Wu-Tang Clan prior to finally finding my real home. While this ian’t one of the first bands I ever heard, nor the group that grounded me to this life, they were definitely up there in my early years. I had heard bits and pieces off their Destroy Erase Improve album thanks to a local college radio station’s weekly Monday metal program. Hearing “Future Breed Machine” and “Transfixion” instantly had me hooked on their sound, though the local music store didn’t carry the album, and I wasn’t old enough to have a credit or debit card to order a copy on-line.

However, it wasn’t long before I started hearing new songs on that station. The radio hosts were throwing out names like “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” and “Neurotica,” names I had never heard before, which prompted me to learn of Chaosphere. These tracks really hooked right into my throat and I was eating them up every time they played, which was rather steady, maybe once every two hours, or every hour if I was lucky enough to get one of the hosts who were dedicated fans. But, when that album dropped, I hounded my parents for five bucks more in my allowance that week, and a ride to the mall that Friday night to hang out with friends, and pick up my copy from the local music store that has since gone downhill horribly.

Of course, I didn’t have any friends. I was a fat thirteen year old outcast in high school, and the only one who listened to Slayer and Cannibal Corpse at that time. This also hindered my buying the album as the employee was reluctant to sell it to me, but since there was no warning he had no real obligation to keep me from buying it other than a moral one. I tore apart the plastic wrap, I ripped off the sticky seal at the top, and damn near broke into the plastic jewelcase that held it all into place. Chaosphere! A literal artwork translation on the insert of the title was in my hand, and I was ready to tear into the lyrics. I sat there in the food court reading that booklet until it was time to head home, which I had been anxiously waiting on.

This was one of my earliest favorites, and it still is. To this day I play this album in my car, the same exact copy from my childhood too. While it doesn’t get as much wear and tear as other important albums I leave in my car, it always packs enough punch to let me get my frustrations out through physically assaulting the steering wheel or my own neck through pretty violent head banging sessions. “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” still hits me hard the way it did the first time I heard it over the radio, and “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled” always has me itching to find people to start a mosh pit with where I stand, or start a random demolition derby on the road. “Concatenation” is easily one of my all time favorite Meshuggah songs thanks to that energy I feel in “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled” basically emenating through the speakers and assaulting me. However, I can’t stand dealing with “Elastic,” simply because of the annoying as hell, and very long winded conclusion that extends the life of the album for too long. To this day, I have no idea why it’s there, or what even made them think it was a good idea in the first place, but, when I get to it, I take a moment to reach over and hit the skip forward button on whatever device to get right back to the pounding of my head against the air.

ObZen dropped around the same time as two major events in my life: Due to health issues I had to walk away from my Metal Director position at WSFX FM, and I finally moved into my own place. I remember heading to my new apartment with my fiancee and working on cleaning up the hell hole that was the remains of the previous tenants, making it habitable once more. This was one of the albums I was constantly playing to give me energy when I was getting exhausted painting, scraping, and unscrewing things. “Bleed” was always enough to wake me up in the wee hourse of the night that I call my traditional schedule. The same can be said for “Electric Red” and many others on here. However, it was always “The Spiteful Snakes” that seemed to set off my neighbors dogs for some reason. Not only did this piss my neighbors off before I even moved in, making the party I intended to throw for just such an occassion a moot concept, but also had their pets nearly chewing through the newly placed dry wall to get to the obvious annoyance. To this day, it still does both of these things, as well as stands as my second favorite album from Meshuggah.

Now, had I been introduced to Meshuggah around the time of Contradictions Collapse, I probably would not have been as gung-ho about the others, or about the group as I am now. I really can’t explain why, but I just didn’t like the album at all. The main problem was that it felt like a slightly more technical Metallica, and I’ve never been the biggest fan of that band either aside maybe two albums. “Paralyzing Ignorance” really just struck me as unoriginal despite it being the group’s single, and “We’ll Never See the Day” had some good attitude behind it, but just not really enough to make me want to go back and give it another spin. Although, I will admit that “Choirs of Devastation” has some great music and remains one of the only songs off this album I’ll really go back and listen to. I don’t regret adding this album to the collection, and honestly I never well. In fact, I still like this one a hell of a lot more than Catch Thirtythree.

Oh, dear sweet Buddha how I loathe bands that claim to put out songs that are over the then minute mark, and spend five of it using sound clips for filler. That is essentially this album. Some of the songs work out well with the shifting from one track to another in order to create a longer song, but the thing is, most of the time that’s exactly what it is: One song cut into shorter tracks. I don’t like this tactic, and unless it serves a major purpose to the song, I never will either. I also hate “bridges” between each song that are nothing more than, say, static, to supposedly weave a forty seven plus minute album. When this one dropped, I was still employed at WSFX FM, and I remember that even the label only suggested two songs, one of which was “Shed.” The problem? People called up complaining about it, saying they didn’t like it, which I and the entire DJ staff all agreed with. I’ll never forget the hell that erupted when “Mind’s Mirrors” was accidentally played. But, aside the madness it caused in studio, it just became a stressful album to me. I would get into a song, and then something like “Mind’s Mirrors” would kick in and completely destroy the flow. Of all the Meshuggah albums, this is my least favorite. Honestly, if I didn’t decide to back up all my albums after someone stole a bunch of CDs out of my car a few years back, this would probably still be in the shrink wrap in my collection, sitting there to fill the discography up.

I also find it quite ironic that this is the least expensive full-length album of the band’s discography.

In the end though, Meshuggah has put out a lot of good albums, as well as miscellaneous materials. While I don’t own any of those, I do have the Rare Trax compilation, and do enjoy going back to that once in a while, though not too often. I largely just return for “War,” which is easily one of their most intense songs the group recorded. But, aside that, “By Emptyness Abducted,” “Don’t Speak,” and “Concatenation,” I never really get too into this one due to the amount of rather unimpressive material that harkens back to the Contradictions Collapse days. Of course, I still am on the border with this artwork. Never really did understand it… Oh well, I’ll go the “elitist” route and proclaime that it’s different from their usual style, therefor I don’t like it. Not really the case as I just don’t know what to make of it, but I’ll lock that in as my final answer.

Obviously, I really like the direction Meshuggah has taken, as well as the amount of growth they have gone through over the years. Of course, this doesn’t include the far more Progressive days of Catch Thirtythree. I couldn’t get behind them on that release, and to be honest, if Meshuggah tried to pull another album similar to it again, I may very well just not even bother adding it to the collection unless someone buys it for me, or I get it for a few bucks on sale. I still sit down and give the other albums a spin here and there, which is what I’ll be doing in my car later on, as I have a sudden urge to throw in Destroy Erase Improve after talking about it, and that’s fine with me. As you can tell, I look forward to every album that these guys put out, and have greatly enjoyed all of them with a few exceptions. I just wish they would come closer to where I live, as I’d love to see some of my favorite songs on stage in person, as Alive simply doesn’t cut it for me as a live experience.