Leaves its audience bewildered, exhausted and feeling trampled

There is no band like Meshuggah. While their idiosyncratic style has given birth to a raft of tropes that now litter the heavy and extreme music landscape, they remain unique. The longest gap ever between recordings only appears to have made the Swedish bruisers both more focused and more impenetrable, claustrophobic and indecipherable.

Broken Cog opens cold onto a riff that sounds like damaged machinery, off-kilter and lacking in cadence. It’s a creeping, dissonant figure that you know Meshuggah will return to again and again in varying forms throughout the 60+ jarring minutes of Immutable, Jens Kidman’s whispered vocals adding another unsettling layer to the unnerving drone. So it begins, a lurching behemoth of almost-grooves, abyssal tunings, grinding and dissonant repetition, shifting signatures and angular melodies completely at odds with the rhythmic structure.

In The Abysmal Eye, Meshuggah keeps changing the groove as you almost get used to it, Light the Shortening Fuse could spiral out of control at any moment, but never does, Phantoms sucks everything down to some uncharted, murky depth and then God He Sees in Mirrors explodes any pre-conceived idea of how song structures should work as they sort of bring back the riff from Broken Cog but Tomas Haake plays something else entirely underneath it while Fredrik Thordendal adds a melody that sounds as if it’s being played backwards. So, typical Meshuggah, then.

They Move Below is less so, a sprawling nine minute instrumental that builds from clean harmonies to a churning sludge overlaid with off-key melodies and a straight, plodding beat. An almost conventional track by this band’s standards, offset two tracks along by the grinding black metal of Black Cathedral. I Am That Thirst brings back the menacing, damaged machinery backdrop for Kidman’s shredded throat and Thordendal’s tremolo picking.

By its close, Immutable leaves its audience bewildered, exhausted and feeling trampled, with a feeling of dark unease by the acutely disturbing coda Past Tense, yet weirdly exhilarated by a musical odyssey that seems to have fallen out of a void from another universe. There really is no band like Meshuggah, and this is proof.

  1. Broken Cog
  2. The Abysmal Eye
  3. Light the Shortening Fuse
  4. Phantoms
  5. Ligature Marks
  6. God He Sees in Mirrors
  7. They Move Below
  8. Kaleidoscope
  9. Black Cathedral
  10. I Am That Thirst
  11. The Faultless
  12. Armies of the Preposterous
  13. Past Tense