Meshuggah – ‘Nothing’ [Special Feature]
As the originators of the metal style known as djent, Meshuggah are one of the most influential heavy bands in existence today. If you’ve ever sat and scratched your head at an ultra-complex riff until you listened to the cymbal pattern and suddenly it all made sense, you were most likely listening to a band paying lip service to Meshuggah – if not a track by the Swedish maestros themselves. Djent bands the world over owe their rhythmic and tonal signatures to Meshuggah, although the origin of the genre-encompassing word itself is the subject of much controversy.
Today, djent is considered passé by many metal fans. Since Periphery (who themselves reject the ‘djent’ label) dropped their airtight debut album in 2010, the DC-based sextet have been hailed as djent pioneers while copycat clones promptly popped up all over the place, leaping onto the bandwagon of trendiness before falling off and getting crushed under its adamantium wheels. However, more inventive acts such as Animals As Leaders, Skyharbor, Maxi Curnow, and of course Periphery themselves continue to forge their own paths into the future of progressive metal, blending Meshuggah’s distinctive influence with all manner of extra-spicy ingredients. Outside of the djent spectrum entirely, Californian alt-metal titans Deftones have long worn their love of Meshuggah on their sleeves, allowing it to shine through most brightly on their eight-string-wrangling opus Diamond Eyes.
Meshuggah’s back catalogue is crammed with intimidatingly intense offerings that can be considered modern classics – but for me, Nothing sits at the top of the heap. From Stengah‘s brain-haemorrhage-inducing induction into the world of metric superimposition (click here to find out what the hell that is) to the Allan-Holdsworth-on-crack soloing found amongst Closed Eye Visuals‘ bloodthirsty broadsword blows; the disturbingly bouncy intro to Straws Pulled At Random; the fact that the creation of Rational Gaze led to this mashup; the deep growl of Spasm; and too many additional high points to list here, Nothing may feel like an auditory assault course at first, but when you get it, you’ll really get it.
Getting into Meshuggah is an achievement that never stops being rewarding. The same will never be said of whichever lamestream karaoke warbler gets shat into the spotlight by the X-Factor this year. Or next year. Or the year after…
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