Swedish metal pioneers Meshuggah have announced the release of their ninth studio album, Immutable, on April 1st, 2022. Wall of Sound were invited to the premiere of the band’s first offering since 2016’s The Violent Sleep of Reason and you better believe it was well worth the wait!
On the new album, drummer Tomas Haake believes they have been true to themselves, even when trying something different:
“As far as maintaining a certain sound … we continue to write something that goes in the line of who we are. That is going to shine through, whether you’re doing something a little different or not. We want it to be immediately, at least to people that know and are familiar with our band, we want it to be something that is frankly noticeable as us… No one really does ‘this’. We are constantly looking in each album for the ‘this.’ Sometimes you question yourself, ‘Is this immediately us or maybe us?’ Because we don’t want ‘maybe us’, we want ‘immediate’.
“Even though we try to do something new on each album… we are still working within this framework, in a sense our direction is immutable, in the sense we just keep going on our path.”
The title of the album describes not only the band, but the lyrics as well:
“The artwork suggests more about man as such being immutable and just continuing on this path of self-destruction. Hence the burning person with a knife in his hand that is always ready for violence. That is the go-to place.”
Tomas Haake explained that the album was “a little more old school” but also “not old school” with some dynamics that are a little more mellow. He wasn’t kidding. There’s classic Meshuggah syncopation on the opener ‘Broken Cog’ but it’s also slower and more deliberate with a menacing Jens Kidman whispering over doomy music. As an introduction to the album’s thirteen tracks it is pretty spot on: familiar but fresh.
Fear not though, as promised there is plenty of faster material, with Kidman unleashing his trademark growl on ‘The Abysmal Eye’ and ‘Light the Shortening Fuse’ backed by a relentless set of riffs. The leads are seriously melodic though, providing some balance to the sheer heaviness of the rhythm. Tracks like ‘Phantoms’ are more mid-tempo but no less dense, the ending of that one is going to melt faces. Despite inspiring a vast majority of the deathcore and metalcore bands getting around at the moment, no one drops a breakdown like Meshuggah. ‘Ligature Marks’ is a bit of departure – it has a ton of groove! Needless to say it is going to blow your mind and eardrums.
All this talk of melody and dynamics doesn’t mean Haake is keeping 4/4 time though – hell no! There are plenty of odd time signatures and other trademarks, including crazy finger bending solos.
Haake commented on the influence of albums like Metallica’s Master of Puppets:
“Master of Puppets has been a guideline in a way for this album for us… where [during production] we even called the instrumental track ‘Orion 2’. It’s really about the albums we grew up listening to and they were allowed and bold enough [to say] ‘I have these calm parts… let’s throw them in there.’ ”
With that kind of influence in mind, Immutable is the longest Meshuggah album to date, with 13 tracks in 66 minutes. At the centre is the nine-and-a-half minute ‘They Move Below’: a prog excursion that builds to … actually I’m not gonna spoil it. Sit down for this one though, and maybe get some ointment ready for your neck.
Recorded during the pandemic the band have been able to take their time and it shows in the attention to detail. The epicness of ‘They Move Below’ is balanced by the more immediate songs like ‘Kaleidoscope’ and ‘I Am That Thirst’. Perhaps the best way to describe the different elements is that the band appears to subvert listener expectations at various points, including a track that never quite gets to the drums you’re waiting for. It makes for an exciting album full of sonic twists and turns. This includes, as Haake pointed out, an “ass shaking song” suited to pole dancing (I won’t share which one, you’ll figure it out). There’s also a real beauty to some of the songs, a film soundtrack quality, but there’s also tracks that are ugly and brutal by design – just the way fans will like it.
Haake described the song writing process as being a very “visual take on the music” and finding inspiration in creating music to bring the images in their head to life.
Some of the freshness has come from changing their recording set up, including using a new studio, Sweet Spot Studios in rural Sweden. Haake, Dick Lövgren (Bass) and Mårten Hagström (Guitar) moved into a tour bus to record together at Sweet Spot, with vocalist Kidman recording at home and Fredrik Thordendal (Guitar) contributing solos from his own studio. It made for a relaxed atmosphere that shows in the album, with Kidman able to rest his voice between takes, and some riffs being Meshuggah’s take on stoner metal. With Hagström writing most of the guitar parts this time, his cinematic influence is clear too.
When I personally asked about whether the new sounds are a result of other bands in the scene, particularly those who might be inspired by Meshuggah, Haake commented:
“There’s really no consideration on our behalf in the band as to any bands kind of doing anything similar or coming up in the wake of us. We don’t have time to reflect on those things. Even more so with the longevity of the band you tend to be ‘this is what we do.’ In our little compartment of music, we don’t necessarily even listen to new metal or what is going on. I mean if we do have bands that are inspired by us and come up in our wake [it is] humbling and it’s amazing.
For us, if we have done anything for anyone that has inspired them to do something and they can get a following on their own, we suck it up and use it because it feels great and is amazing to us. But for us we really have no clue what is going on outside our little bubble.”
They truly are pioneers through and through and I can’t wait for you to hear what I have. Stay tuned to Wall of Sound for all your Meshuggah news in the lead up to the release of Immutable on April 1st, 2022.
Immutable pre-orders start from January 28th, 2022 via the website
Meshuggah – Immutable tracklisting
1. Broken Cog
2. The Abysmal Eye
3. Light The Shortening Fuse
5. Ligature Marks
6. God He Sees In Mirrors
7. They Move Below
9. Black Cathedral
10. I Am That Thirst
11. The Faultless
12. Armies Of The Preposterous
13. Past Tense
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