Sweden's djent juggernauts Meshuggah formed in 1987. Starting off as a thrash metal band with alternative metal elements, the band would famously launch the djent genre. With eight and nine string guitars, downtuned to the lowest of low, and intricate drum patterns and unique time signatures that would make any music teacher happy, this band was on the forefront of creating a twisted amalgamation of progressive metal, death metal, industrial, thrash and sludge all into one band. Let's take a look at their discography and see what are their top records and what albums to check it out if you are new to the band and want to know where to start.
9) Contradictions Collapse
The band's debut, Meshuggah were more experimental and not the djenty powerhouse they would become. This record leans more towards the thrash metal/crossover sound with fast paced guitar riffs, gang vocals and less of the progressive sound the band would develop in later releases. Elements of alternative metal and industrial music also appear on the record. Jens Kidman's vocals are not as deep and guttural like we know today. With a more higher range, with some of the alternative metal parts sounding almost Rob Zombie like with hints of James Hetfield of Metallica. This was the band figuring out their sound. A good record overall and if you want a change of pace from the cliché djent sound, this is a good record to blare and know that Meshuggah can still go hard and fast even without the technicality and 9-string guitars.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Erroneous Manipulation", "Qualms of Reality" & "Internal Evidence"
8) Catch Thirtythree
An ambitious record for the band, Catch Thirythree is actually considered by the band to be listened to as one single song, but due to record label pushback, it was broken up into individual tracks. It was also the band's first foray into using programmed drums created by drummer Tomas Haake, dubbed "The Drumkit From Hell", which you can actually buy and use for your own music. The record is a continuation of the band's sound from Nothing, but dives more into the progressive sound with the concept of one single song, similar to a djent version of Sleep's "Dopesmoker" album. With sporadic interludes and instrumentation, pounding guitar sections and drums matching the rhythms, this is a slow burn album and one of the underrated albums in the band's discography.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Disenchantment", "The Paradoxical Spiral" and "Shed"
With a pummeling low and slow opener of "I Am Colossus", Meshuggah start the record off with a pummeling down tuned track for this 2012 album. The album, described by Haake as "Organic brutality, viscera and groove all crammed into a 54-minute metalicious treat" does sum up the record pretty well. Personally, it is a good record from the band, but it seems like it is tough to follow up obZen. Musically, the band has some songs like "The Hurt That Finds You First" that is almost a thrash metal song, and sounds so heavy and relentless with Haake's drumming keeping the pace and speed for the entire track. A strong listen and a solid release from the band.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "The Demon's Name is Surveillance", "I Am Colossus" & "Behind The Sun"
The band returned after a six year studio gap with Immutable. The band now in their 50's, it doesn't sound like they are slowing down at any point with this record. With the slow atmospheric "Broken Cog", the band sets an eerie, ominous tone for the record before kicking the door down with the following track "The Abysmal Eye". The record continues with the down-tuned chaos that Meshuggah delivers. Showing that this band has returned to regain their djenty throne and show the world they are not going anywhere.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Broken Cog", "Phantoms" & "God He Sees in Mirrors"
Meshuggah at this point had fully abandoned the thrash elements of the first two records and were beginning to forge the djent sound they would be famous for. Continuing the experimentation of time signature patterns with pounding and frenetic guitars, Meshuggah began to slow it down but increase the heaviness and density of their sound with this record. Guitar solos are more upfront in the mix compared to the previous releases, with their unique style of playing and adding to the driving rhythm and pulsing drums. A dynamic and heavy record that shows that the band was not a thrash metal band anymore, becoming a torchbearer with this new musical direction. With this record and it's follow up, would introduce the world to this Swedish juggernaut. Also, the video for "New Millennium Cyanide Christ" is a hysterical video, showcasing the band doesn't take themselves too seriously. And don't lie, we've all done their performance in the car whenever an awesome song comes on.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "New Millennium Cyanide Christ", "The Mouth Licking What You've Bled" & "Concatenation"
4) The Violent Sleep of Reason
With the band recording this album live as a band compared to individually, you can hear the blending and gelling the band would deliver with this 2016 release. Meshuggah bringing its classic djenty sound and adding better production and more intensity with this release. The Grammy nominated song "Clockworks" starts this album out with a furious punch and is just relentless for the entire almost hour long run time. Kidman's vocals are mixed so well with such ferocity and vigor. Guitars are driving, bass rumbling and the solos, especially on "MonstroCity" sound like something a guitar teacher would drool over. This record was an insanely good record and left the fans with one hell of an album before the band would go on a five year release gap.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Born in Dissonance", "Clockworks" & "MonstroCity"
3) Destroy Erase Improve
With their second release, Meshuggah began to slowly start to drift away from the thrash metal sound they had on Contradictions Collapse. Beginning to forge the sound the band would be famous for. With dynamic drum syncopations, a heavier down tuned guitar tone, thanks to the addition of Mårten Hagström to the band, and vocals more guttural then the debut, Meshuggah became djent on this record. Musically, the album still has their thrash origins on it, but songs are more slower, more sporadic time signature start/stop elements, and just pummeling heaviness with the only reprieve being the instrumental "Acrid Placidity". A record that is one of the defining records of the band. Showcasing that the band was on to something big with this release, not only being the birth of a genre, but beginning to lay the groundwork for the band's eclectic and unique style that would be influential to the metal scene today.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Future Breed Machine", "Soul Burn" and "Inside What's Within Behind"
ObZen, the band's sixth album, was the band returning to a more straight-forward Meshuggah sounding record compared to the previous record Catch Thirtythree. The album blew up in popularity with the single "Bleed", which is one of the most recognizable riffs and potentially one of the greatest opening breakdowns in metal history. With its pummeling double bass and matching guitar riff. Almost harkening back to their thrashier sound of their first two records. Featuring elements of groove in songs like "Lethargica", the guitars ring with deep gravely bass tones, along with Haake's drumming create unease and an audio feeling of everyone sounding like they are playing to their own beat, but somehow work together as one, a classic Meshuggah staple. A heavy, down tuned classic in the Meshuggah discography and shows the band can speed up the djent sound and still be heavy and dense as all hell with their sound.
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Bleed", "Combustion" & "Electric Red"
What some consider the band's magnum opus, Nothing's opening track "Stengah" shows the band had perfected the djent sound and with that opening track, the band was cemented as one of the most technical and heaviest bands in metal. With the addition of both guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström experimenting with eight string guitars, the band was able to obtain guitar tones that were almost unheard of at the time, creating a heavy, massive bass tone on a guitar, with overdrive cranked to the max. Adding a new kind of heavy sound, inspiring guitarists to go pick up a eight or nine string guitar, famously Tosin Abasi from Animals as Leaders. This record is a monumental release for not only the band, which launched them into the spotlight with their unique sound and intricate musicianship, but spawned a metal genre that would influence countless acts like Animals as Leaders, Periphery, Spiritbox, and Tesseract. If you are gonna get someone into Meshuggah, this is the record to start with, HANDS DOWN!
SONGS TO CHECK OUT: THE WHOLE ALBUM, but personal favorites are "Stengah" and "Rational Gaze"