The Vinyl Verdict: Meshuggah, 25 Years of Deviance Box Set
We’re back with another Vinyl Verdict. In case you missed the first few installments, this column offers reviews from the perspective of vinyl fanatics, people that want to know more about special edition and limited edition vinyl releases before they invest their hard earned money. This is not a review of the music itself.
Meshuggah’s 25 Years of Musical Deviance box set, recently released via Nuclear Blast, features the band’s entire discography (10 albums), a Blu-Ray disc with music/ studio videos, a unique outer case featuring 3D cover art, a custom slipmat, and a 100-page hardcover book. The set is limited to 1,000 worldwide, with only 585 available in the US.
The outer case is durable cardboard with a magnetic frame that snaps shut, securing all the internal goodies. The design is made to look like stone and metal. The fantastic 3D cover artwork is reminiscent of Giger, featuring a woman emerging from image with an orb levitating between her hands. I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the material the 3D work is printed on — it feels like flimsy plastic that is easily dented. Considering the price, I would have expected higher quality materials for the 3D design, but it serves its purpose and I can’t knock it too much considering how well made the rest of the box is.
There are 17 ultra-clear, 180 gram 12-inch vinyl, all featuring new cover artwork. The listing is as follows:
- Meshuggah EP – single, 45rpm vinyl
- Contradictions Collapse – double, 33 1/3rpm vinyl
- None EP – single, 33 1/3rpm vinyl
- Destroy Erase Improve – double vinyl, 45rpm vinyl
- Chaosphere – double vinyl, 45rpm vinyl
- Nothing – double vinyl, 45rpm vinyl
- I EP – single vinyl, 33 1/3rpm vinyl
- Catch 33 – double vinyl, 33 1/3rpm vinyl
- Obzen – double vinyl, 45rpm vinyl
- Koloss – double vinyl, 45rpm vinyl
The vinyl themselves are fantastic; crystal clear with no blemishes. The accompanying revamped artwork is also beautiful, very reminiscent of Meshuggah’s more modern releases – along the lines of Koloss or Catch 33 — although a part of me would have preferred receiving the original artwork. All of the sleeves are standard, none are gatefold, which is a bit of a disappointment, but that seems like it may have been a conscious decision made due to packaging constraints.
Now we come to what I consider to be the biggest disappointment by far: the only albums that don’t use the original CD masters are Koloss and Obzen. For such a limited edition piece of fan-service, I’d expect Nuclear Blast to go all-out and master every album specifically for vinyl. There is a notable amount of compression on a couple of the albums with the most obvious being Catch 33, but that’s a problem I had with the album when it was released back in ’05, so at least you’re getting consistency.
Let’s talk about the dynamic range of the vinyl itself. For those that don’t know, dynamic range is essentially the difference between the quietest and the loudest volume in any work of music. These ranges are measured in decibels on a track-by-track basis and the average is assigned as an album rating. Each possible level is ranked from 1-20, with 1 being the worst and 20 being the best. The dynamic range for Meshuggah’s stuff has never been great. None of their releases have ever really surpassed mid-tier points. Here’s an exact list of what you can expect from the box set:
|Album Name||Album Rating||DR Minimum||DR Maximum|
|Destroy Erase Improve||DR9||DR7||DR11|
[All results taken from personal testing or the Dynamic Range Database]
One other quick note: Nuclear Blast made an error when pressing the Nothing vinyl. They issued a letter stating the following:
“The audio is correct, but the center labels are not. Rather than delay the release and have you wait any longer we’ve decided to ship the box set as is. The corrected Nothing vinyl are being repressed as we speak. Once those are complete, we will ship them to you, free of charge… You do not have to return the incorrect vinyl. You may keep those if you wish.”
Good on them for recognizing the need to fulfill customer orders correctly. They went about that in the most efficient way possible, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience. Mistakes and misprints like this tend to be worth tons of money in the future as well, so this kind of thing makes this set even more desirable to collectors. I bring this up for two reasons:
- To highlight Nuclear Blast’s superb customer service
- To let everyone who may be purchasing this box set second-hand know that this misprint exists, and is probably something you’ll want to make sure you receive when you purchase this set from eBay or other third-party retailers
Ultimately there’s a lot to love in this collection if you’re a Meshuggah fan, but there are also a few missed opportunities. At a the hefty price point of $250 I would have expected a few design choices to be a higher quality. I also would have appreciated full remastering of all the albums for vinyl, especially considering sets like this are meant to cater towards die-hard fans and audiophiles. I recommend it if you can find it, but from what I understand these have already sold out. If you can find a used set in good condition for a reasonable price then I’d say go for it, especially if you’re a fan like myself that grew up listening to their signature brand of progressive heavy metal. But don’t break the bank trying to find one; it’s not worth that.