Meshuggah
Immutable

Meshuggah is a juggernaut of a band, maybe the heaviest band on the planet. Immutable being their 9th proper studio album – by now you love what Meshuggah does or you can leave them, because their music can be tough to absorb. The band is a machine, that is the best way of describing their heavy, poly-rhythmic, bludgeoning steamrolling sounds mixed with industrial djent downtuned heaviness with the only goal in mind is to crush and splinter bones into smithereens.

Their last album The Violent Sleep of Reason was a pretty killer album with a monster of an opening song-“Clockworks”. On Immutable the band returns with another killer opening song, “Broken Cog”, to kick off this 13 song, hour-plus-long album. “Broken Cog” has quite the pounding drum and guitar intro. Listen on your earphones of your choice-the listening experience is rather expansive on this. The ethereal guitars come in then whispered vocals and really the song is sounding nothing like you would expect from Meshuggah, as the song tempers itself until the 3-minute mark, and then it kicks into a polyrhythm cyclone avalanche of a number and hot damn this is heavy. A good opening song, but not up to par as “Clockworks” from their previous album, but “The Abysmal Eye” is next and JFC on a popsicle stick the bludgeoning machine, tank-tread heaviness that is Meshuggah erupts in all its glory. This song is ferocious. Stop and start stylized djent with rolling drums Tomas Haake showing off his skills as a masterful drummer-one of the best in all of extreme metal. This song ripped my head off, after mashing it in a pile of meatballs before throwing me over a cliff. The song is cold in its machine-like heaviness and calls to mind the Chaosphere album.

“Light The Shortening Fuse” is up next with more poly-rhythmic madness, ethereal second guitar coming and then right into a monstrous groove, and vocalist Jens, berating us because we forgot to finish our vegetables on our dinner plate. It’s a really good tune, that slows down a bit and goes all atmospheric towards the end of the song. “Phantoms” is rolling heaviness and I notice some TOOL influence erupting on the main song pattern this track stays in for much of the album. Around the 2.10 minute mark, just sit back and listen to those drum patterns and smile-complicated, yet precise, off-kilter, yet perfect, Meshuggah is the master in this area. The isolated bass guitar moment at the 2.58 part is the Holy Shit part. Christ almighty I started picking up houses and launching them across town. This groove-laden heavy as balls moment is one of the heaviest pieces of rhythm you will hear! “Ligature Marks” is up next and with the string sliding guitar and bass lines, this song has a hoppy be-bop feel to it. I can imagine a wave of bodies floating from left to right in a monster metronome pattern. Excellent groove and some killer drum rolls on this bad boy.

“God He Sees in Mirrors” is up next with a very poly-rhythmic pattern and then a drum pattern and guitar riffing that erupt into monstrous heaviness. I love the stop and start moment with Jens singing briefly isolated and then the bludgeoning music comes in to rip your soul out and take your spine and throttle it from side to side to wake you up. Some of the guitar soloing coming in will remind one of their classic and my favorite Meshuggah album, Destroy Erase Improve. This is one of the best songs on the album.

It’s rare to have 6 songs in a row on an album that are all pretty much monstrous and that is what Meshuggah hits out of the park with a grand slam so well on this…now if you thought this was going to be an ass-kissing review for its entirety you are mistaken. My circle of friends, my friends on the writing site Teeth of the Divine as well as people who have followed me doing reviews for over 10 years now know I fucking hate instrumentals on albums. Now I am ok with an intro here and there and I do rather enjoy deathcore bands opening albums up with a downbeat instrumental, I really do. But when I think of the classic instrumentals my mind always goes to Maiden, Sabbath, Rush and Metallica. These are the masters of metal instrumentals-leaving everyone else to pick up the pieces. Meshuggah not only puts an instrumental on this album, they put 3! count that 3!!! So after track 6, the 7th track “They Move Below” is up and at over 9 minutes [8 minutes too long] is by far the longest song on the album. Starting like a classical piece, it’s drenched in musical atmospherics. Then the song meanders into a drift less, djent stylized heavy number, with more atmospherics. There are pieces of this song that let’s say the band made into a 4-5 minute number and added vocals it would have most definitely worked. I’m not in Meshuggah, I don’t call the shots, so I just sit back and scratch my head on this. There is some cool Godflesh moments on this, but really this instrumental does very little for me.

“Black Cathedral” is another instrumental at 2 minutes, this is just some mindless riffing and noises-pointless…yawn…..and the album ends with a 5+ minute instrumental called “Past Tense”. I would have called this last song “Hey We did 17 minutes of pointless instrumentals on this album”. Additionally, this song ends the album on a whimper, not a bang. It’s soft and soothing, but the album should have ended with the prior song, “Armies of the Preposterous”. The fact Meshuggah used the word Preposterous on an album gets high marks from me. This track is steeped in double bass madness. Monstrously heavy and unforgiving this is another standout track. Truly a brutal number and as I mentioned the double bass drums are beyond preposterously heavy. The other regular songs are all very good with “The Faultless” being another standout and bludgeoning song.

I love Immutable, but it’s far from perfect. 17 minutes of instrumentals on an album is really beating a dead horse into submission. I would have much rather had either one regular song, or just nix those instrumentals because the band already had 10 killer songs for the album. The instrumentals I guess maybe show the band branching off a bit, incorporating some different influences, but for this guy, it sounds like filler. I’d rather have quality over quantity any day of the week. This decision boggles my mind. Outside the mulligan of multiple instrumentals, Immutable is pure Meshuggah-cold, calculating, precise, heavy, complex and if I had to pick a favorite song it would be “The Abysmal Eye”, since the song is relentless and punishing from start to finish. If you’re a long-time Meshuggah fan like myself then you will love this album, but will no doubt scratch your head at the instrumental decisions the band made with this album. Regardless, get Immutable, and crank it up to piss your neighbors off.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
April 4th, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: David S

    I don’t mind the instrumentals, but those did each remind me of other bands and not meshuggah. Maybe that’s an issue. But, overall a good thing seeing them try to stretch.

    One reminded me of GOD (GOD IV-Revelation remains a go-to for me, I bet the Meshuggah guys stumbled upon that!), the one without drums made me think of something Portal might do, the closer reminded me of how that one decapitated album ended (Carnival is Forever?).

    Without those all you’re left with is more quality Meshuggah music, can’t go wrong with that!

    I like how they’re “throwing it back to Nothing” at times, that’s so cool that they’re that old now


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