The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s: #23, Meshuggah
The ’90s: they were the bomb! That’s why MetalSucks will spend the month of March giving snaps to the decade that was all that and a bag of chips by counting down The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s. These aren’t bands that necessarily formed in the ’90s, nor are they bands that would turn out to be influential somewhere down the road; these are bands that a) were doing their best work in the ’90s, and b) amassed a devout following during the ’90s. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for extreme music. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for yo mama.
If this were a list of the most important metal bands of the ’00s, Meshuggah would surely be near the very top of it. Their sound came to define an entire sub-genre of metal and beyond, and elevated them to become one of the premier metal bands in the world.
By the two stipulations laid out in the above introductory paragraph accompanying every article in this series, though, Meshuggah weren’t quite there yet between 1991, when they released their debut Contradictions Collapse, and 1998, when their third full-length Chaosphere closed down their ’90s output.
Still: Meshuggah’s importance to the ’90s metal scene — both to their cult fan-base and other musicians paying close attention — cannot be understated. Chaosphere launched what most fans consider to be the holy trinity of Meshuggah albums, followed by Nothing and Catch Thirtythree in the first half of the next decade (surrounding the 21-minute single-track release I).
Even before then, Meshuggah were incorporating odd time signatures, off-kilter drumming and influences as disparate as jazz into extreme metal way before it became cool to do so. Their technique of staccato, palm-muted chugs mixed with pummeling, lockstep drums was downright revolutionary, putting the spotlight squarely on rhythm in a genre long celebrated for its emphasis on virtuosic lead players. Their embrace of 7-string guitars was truly pioneering; by the time other bands had started copying them, Meshuggah had already one-upped the game to 8-strings on Nothing.
While the Meshuggah of the ’90s weren’t yet the icons they’d later become, and though it took the rest of the metal scene nearly a whole fucking decade to catch on and imitate their sound, Meshuggah’s inclusion on this list in unquestionable and their importance to the decade of metal cannot be debated.