Disclaimer: The record company keeps pulling YouYube clips of these songs because of "copyright violation" and because having you hear three songs while reading the following glowing review probably wouldn't help them sell a single record. I'll do my best to keep them updated, but if you've arrived at this piece to find broken links, I apologize. Record companies hate free promotion.
If I were to have made a Most Anticipated Albums of 2012, Meshuggah's Koloss would have resided somewhere near the top of that list. Waiting for its arrival for the last three months has tested my patience, so much so that when it leaked last week, I caved, and downloaded it. (Boo. Hiss. Yawn.)
Note: I'd pre-ordered it already, really wanted this piece to come out on its release day, and to be totally honest I REALLY COULDN'T RESIST BECAUSE I HAVE NO WILLPOWER.
Koloss is a monster, everything I'd hoped it would be. After Meshuggah almost singlehandedly inspiring an entire genre called djent, which Metal Sucks aptly described as "a silly word for 'sounds like Meshuggah'", they've returned to set the bar even higher for the bands that draw so heavily from their sound. It's an undeniably powerful, brutally heavy, and perfectly focused effort from one of the most important metal bands of the past 25 years.
What follows, is a look at three of my favorite tracks from Koloss.
Disclaimer #2: If you're not a fan of heavy, agressive, and/or loud, you can probably skip this one, because what you're about to hear is like being trampled by a herd of jackhammer-wielding Godzillas.
1) "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance"
This is what I imagine it might be like to be ripped out of your gourd on PCP, get blindsided by a bullet train that's on fire, dragged beneath it for five minutes, and actually survive to tell the tale. The song is a monster on its own, but coming off the sludgy, plodding, semi-hypnotic vibe of the album's opening salvo, "I Am Colossus", this uptempo beast absolutely destroys. I heard it for the first time as was driving down the 55. The second the song kicked in, my jaw dropped, my eyelids peeled back, and I found myself head-banging and cackling maniacally until I realized I was driving 100 mph, involuntarily screaming, and not really watching the road. (Note: I was totally sober.)
Bonus note: If you've ever played drums, just listening to the double bass on this song will make your legs hurt.
2) "Behind The Sun"
The intro to this is a perfect melodic breather after the pummeling you get from the first three songs on Koloss. It's a short break however, as they get back to bringing the heavy after just twenty seconds. The "choruses" (read: the part with the melodic hook), end up being one of the catchier moments on the entire record for me. Although the riff is distinctively Meshuggah-like, it's the atmospheric texture behind that riff that brings to mind some recent Deftones material. Despite that catchiness, I feel that the high point of the song is the break begins at 3:55 and the release into the melodic section that follows. If you're a fan of metal and that break doesn't get your heart racing a bit, you might want to check your pulse. 3) "Marrow"
I love the sliding feel of the riffs here, but what really makes this track for me is Thomas Haake's drumming. I've been a huge fan of his playing for several years, and it's his work in songs with this sort of vibe that really fuels that admiration. He's got an incredible pocket for a metal drummer, and I think what I like most is that he finds a way to make stuff that is mathy (odd time signatures) feel less mathy, while making sections that are in 4/4 feel slightly mathy by using beat displacement. The thing that makes all of that work is his outstanding feel, and that (mathy or not) all of it feels comfortable, tasteful, and is never hindered by overplaying. He's a beast behind the kit, and a huge inspiration.
Final Thoughts: I sincerely doubt I'll hear another metal record this year that I like more than Koloss. It's a lock for my "Favorite However Many Records Of 2012" list, and will no doubt be dominating my playlist for the foreseeable future. (Or when I'm in the mood for metal, which is usually daily.)