People listen to and interpret music in a variety of ways. Some are lyrically or vocally based; others are influenced by atmosphere and mood, while others analyze its composition and structure, etc. One band that very much appeals to those that break down song structure and time signatures is Swedish metal titan Meshuggah. This band has long been at the forefront of technical death metal and the djent subgenre that they have inspired with their relentless auditory assault full of odd-time signatures and machine-like rhythms that has spanned two decades. This is continued and reinforced with their sixth full-length, The Violent Sleep of Reason.
The Violent Sleep of Reason bares closer resemblance to earlier Meshuggah albums in that the overall sound is much more chaotic and hectic than on their last few releases. It also marks the first time since their first few albums where the album was recorded with the entire band together in the studio rather than independently. As such, The Violent Sleep of Reason sounds more organic and as a band, while still maintaining a polished sound. Clockworks, as well as Born in Dissonance, provides the gist of the sound of this album with their discordant, offbeat, and dissonant barrages of rhythm, yet representations of chaotic order as a whole. In the usual Meshuggah fashion, with the exception of the drums that are in a 4/4 time signature, each of the other instruments are on their own time signature, gradually converging and diverging from one another. Any further attempt at a detailed description of the sound on this album is currently beyond my understanding of composition and music theory—and unwillingness to even dissect the music to such a degree—and would be an injustice to the music. Generally, the album is faster paced and more chaotic than on the previous album of Koloss—although a few songs bare resemblance to that slower paced predecessor, such as By the Ton and the lumbering leviathan of Nostrum—but still not as thrashy as on Destroy Erase Improve and Chaosphere.
Meshuggah continues to show that they remain the masters of their dissonant form of metal, even despite the oversaturation of numerous clones, with the machinations found on The Violent Sleep of Reason—a mind-bending and blistering album that is sure to please Meshuggah fans, technical death metal fans, and particularly metal musicians. However, I find that the previous three albums better suit my taste, as the songs here are a bit more difficult to get into and perhaps too disorderly at times.
Genre: Progressive Metal, Technical Death Metal, Djent
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release: October 7, 2016
2. Born In Dissonance
4. By The Ton
5. Violent Sleep Of Reason
6. Ivory Tower
9. Our Rage Won’t Die
10. Into Decay