Editorials

PONDERING THE RELEVANCE OF MESHUGGAH IN 2012

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Update, 2:13pm: Added new lyric video for “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion.”

Original post:

Those kids at Heavy Blog is Heavy are knowledgable cats, and these days I find myself trusting their editorial stances as much as I did Cosmo Lee’s well-reasoned musings at Invisible Oranges before he passed the baton. When these dudes say something, it really makes you think.

HBIH writer Disinformasiya’s latest crazy thought, sparked by the release of a brand new Meshuggah track last week: how much impact does a new Meshuggah release really have in the post-djent landscape that’s exploded since the release of 2008’s ObZen? The same way that stark metal purists turned on bands like Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall when the legions of bands they inspired went on to produce watered-down copy after watered-down copy, are Meshuggah at risk of being considered tame and boring because of the entire worldwide scene they inadvertently created?

… in those four years [since ObZen‘s release] there have been some changes. The seeds long sown have sprouted, and the skyline ain’t empty no more. We’ve had the rise of the Sevenstring.org forums, which in turn brought the likes of Misha Mansoor (Bulb), Acle Kahney (Fellsilent) and Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner) amongst others to the fore. Since then the former two have branched out or evolved into Periphery and TesseracT respectively, and beyond that we’ve had Animals As Leaders, Cloudkicker, Monuments, Vildjharta, Uneven Structure…the list goes on. There is a lot of merit to be found if you find enjoyment in this sort of metal – but as with every genre, there is also a lot of derivative cack.

… Amongst the praise [of the new Meshuggah song], however, were murmurs of discontent. Now bear in mind that I am unable to differentiate between existing naysayers and those genuinely turned off by the slower, more methodical sound displayed [on the new song], but not everyone was impressed. One voice said it sounded like “a more boring Vildhjarta without all the cool things they do.” Another said “it’s alright? I mean…what exactly is so revolutionary about this? Or is it just because it falls under the Meshuggah brand?”

Obviously it would be incredibly naive of me to call the end of Meshuggah or decry the entirety of Koloss before I’ve even heard it based on this minority reaction, but it does make me wonder: with all this djent djenting djentily all over the djenting place the damn time, is there much left for them to do? I have a feeling that their knack for pummelling riffs, unrelenting and highly technical drumming, and the presence of the undeniably iconic Jens Kidman will shine through, but I don’t think it’s as inevitable as everyone thinks.

Now, I don’t think any long-time fans of Meshuggah are going to suddenly turn on this band because the latest Djohnny Come Lately’s auto-tuned chorus is tearing up the YouTube charts; Meshuggah have been around a long time and their fans are a loyal and incredibly devoted bunch. But I do wonder what kind of impact Koloss will have on someone who just started getting into metal in 2010, the year djent really took off, when Meshuggah were off-cycle. I can easily imagine MetalSucks commenters whose first exposure to that style of metal was Periphery or TesseracT thinking that Meshuggah’s music is “boring,” much the way we’ve seen tons of younger commenters over the years say they don’t get what’s so special about bands like Pantera and Faith No More. Sacrilege, surely, but in a way it kinda makes sense — the pioneers never get any respect among younger generation because new bands who have an outside perspective always take what they did and improve upon it.

As for me, I’m still stoked beyond belief for the release of Koloss on March 23rd. Are you?

-VN

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