After the immense success that followed Meshuggah upon releasing what is considered to be one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time (ObZen), one question remained: How can they top that? By writing insane and technical riffs BEFORE(!) they even knew how to play them that set the bar to skyscraper proportions for the band’s new album Koloss.
The first single “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” was either loved or hated by listeners. It is a much slower and spaced out track, being almost seven minutes long. But that doesn’t mean that they got any less technical. This track shows a brand new side of Meshuggah, where they use the seemingly random time signatures in a whole new way that, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t really been heard of before. Releasing this track as the first single was bound to put fans on both sides of the fence. It’s not really anything that they’ve delved into much in the past, as they were busy pushing the very boundaries of how progressive math metal should be made while utilizing speed and technical time signatures together.
Luckily, “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” goes back to the insane speed that made ObZen such a hit. If you look up brutal in the dictionary, you will find one of the descriptions being this song. The amount of skill it takes to keep such a progressive and extreme speed for the entire track is mind-boggling to say the least. The way the guitars and drums work in tandem about 2:10 into the song, the way the bass and drums tear your face off, and the solo at the end make this is one of their greatest tracks ever.
Going back to their Chaosphere days, “The Hurt That Finds You First” is a more in-your-face approach that is more fitting of an older era. It’s got a slight thrash influence, mainly in the tuning of the guitars, and the overall composition in how the solos and bridge sections of the song complement each other. The drums also ooze pure thrash, sounding different than the rest of the album with the way the snare is used. But it still goes to a progressive sound at some parts in the song, most evidently around the 2:30 part. Near the end, the progressive and thrash elements meet in perfect harmony in a way only Meshuggah can pull off.
There are many unique elements hidden within every song on Koloss, but that is to be expected of a band that has written such a pioneering and unique page in metal history like Meshuggah. While I won’t venture to say it’s better than ObZen- that’s only a matter of personal opinion. I can see others proclaiming how the uniqueness of Koloss is better than ObZen in many ways. However, it’s not too much to say that it’s in the running for metal album of the year this early into 2012.