Meshuggah is a Swedish metal band formed in 1987. They are well-known for their signature musical style, which involves lots of chugging
, complex, polymetered song structures
, loud, savage, bass-heavy riffing
, unusual compositions
and precise musicianship. Meshuggah has found little mainstream success as yet, but is a significant act in extreme underground music and has received significant critical acclaim.
Since its formation, Meshuggah has released seven studio albums, five EPs and eight music videos. The band has performed in various international festivals, including Ozzfest and Download, and embarked on the obZen
world tour in 2008.Current lineup
- Jens Kidman – lead vocals (1987–present), rhythm guitar (1987–1992)
- Fredrik Thordendal – guitars, backing vocals (1987–present), lead vocals (1987-1992)
- Tomas Haake – drums, spoken word (1990–present)
- Mårten Hagström – guitars, backing vocals (1993–present)
- Dick Lövgren – bass guitar (2004–present)
- Niklas Lundgren – drums (1987–1990)
- Peter Nordin – bass guitar (1987–1995)
- Gustaf Hielm – bass guitar (1995–2001)
- Contradictions Collapse (1991)
- Destroy Erase Improve (1995)
- Chaosphere (1998)
- Nothing (2002)
- Catch Thirtythree (2005)
- obZen (2008)
- Koloss (2012)
Tropes that apply to Meshuggah:
- Animated Music Video: "I Am Colossus".
- Bald of Awesome: Jens Kidman. Take a look.◊
- Breather Episode: Each album except Chaosphere has at least one of these, whether it's a full song, or just part of a song.
- Contradictions Collapse - the first minute of "Choirs of Devastation"
- Destroy Erase Improve - "Acrid Placidity"
- Nothing - the second half of "Straws Pulled at Random"; the first few minutes of "Obsidian"
- Catch Thirtythree - "Mind's Mirrors", the second half of "In Death/Is Life", the end of "Sum"
- obZen - The clean interlude before the breakdown of "Lethargica"
- Koloss - The first lead break in "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion"
- Butt Monkey: Jens Kidman. Being a walking embodiment of Narm Charm and Crazy Awesome, his fans and even his bandmates naturally tend towards poking fun at him to the point of turning him into a living, breathing heavy metal Memetic Mutation.
- Careful With That Axe: Uncommon, but not unheard of. "I", from the eponymous EP, has Jens screaming at the top of his voice while the music suddenly shifts into noisegrind territory. The sudden shift occurs at 1:33, right after the intro riff.
- Cool Shades: The band wears them offstage, most notably in their video for "New Millennium Cyanide Christ"
- Early Installment Weirdness: Contradictions Collapse and the preceding self-titled EP are basically Thrash Metal with some progressive elements, as opposed to the complex and eclectic sound showcased on later works. Also, Jens Kidman's vocals are different, being a slightly raspy shout as opposed to the strident roar he's known for.
- Epic Rocking: Plenty of songs, especially more recent ones.
- Catch Thirtythree and the I EP are the longest songs, the former being split into multiple segments
- Follow the Leader/Fountain of Expies - Revered and worshiped by the likes of Deftones, Godzilla (1954), Lamb Of God, Periphery and Tool, and subsequently copied by legions of underground "djent" bands.
- Heroic RROD: Tomas Haake. Considered a near-rival to Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan when it comes to extreme, manic and relentless drumming, as he would often put his drumming abilities to the test when recording and in live performances. Several of his noteworthy efforts include "Bleed" from obZen and the more recent "The Demon's Name is Surveillance" and "The Hurt That Finds You First" from Koloss.
- Last Note Nightmare:
- "Spasm" is an oddity compared to the rest of Nothing. The guitars are tuned lower, and the song lacks much of the angularity and aggressiveness of the other songs. Combing with Haake's robotic, breathy vocals, it gets downright hypnotic, and almost serene...then the final measures kick in, bringing everything into discord with each other.
- Close to 60% of "Elastic" from Chaosphere is a long, drawn-out Last Note Nightmare that consists of repeated riffs that come right out of nowhere, a very long, droning guitar note, followed by the final measures that consist of every riff in the album played all at once.
- Mascot: This guy.◊
- Metal Scream: Jens' vocals are usually strained, very pissed-off Type 1 screams, though he also ha s a very high affinity for very loud and incredibly long Type 3 shrieks.
- Mind Screw: The band's concept and lyrical themes.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually at 10-11. Sometimes crosses into 9 territory.
- Motor Mouth: Kidman. Haake too, during his spoken word parts.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly/Genre-Busting: Aside from just "metal", the band's genre causes quite a lot of confusion. Death Metal? Thrash Metal? Groove Metal? Progressive Metal? They've also been referred to as "math metal" and even "avant garde metal". Guitarist Martin Hagstrom and drummer Tomas Haake are known to prefer the label "experimental metal".
- One-Letter Title: The I EP.
- Older Than They Look: Jens is 46 years old, but, minus the bald head, could pass for his mid or late 20's.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: The Chaosphere album brought in a lot of Harsh Noise and Industrial Metal elements, many (but not all) of which were dropped on their following releases.
- Rule of Funny / Throw It In: The music video for "New Millennium Cyanide Christ," a song about a man who sacrifices his humanity to become a sufficiently advanced cyborg, and seeks to reshape the whole world in his hellish image, which has a music video consisting of Hagstrom, Thordendal and Lovgren air-guitaring, Haake air-drumming, and Kidman lip-synching(badly) into an ink pen, all while wearing ridiculous sunglasses on their tour bus. They reportedly were extremely drunk at the time.
- Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted; aside from the weird faces they make in pictures sometimes, they overall seem like pretty harmless, down-to-earth guys, and despite their lyrics, they do have a sense of humor and a highly positive outlook. But their music is dark, crushing, and almost inhuman.
- Serial Escalation: Trying to follow the polyrhythms in many Meshuggah songs is extremely difficult, and gets even more difficult as you go from song to song. There was once an article written in Music Theory Spectrum magazine which dissected the structure of just the main riff of "Rational Gaze," and the first three minutes of "I." The article was over 20 pages long, and had almost a dozen diagrams.
- Shout-Out: The title of the song "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion" comes from a line by Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer.
"Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion."
- Signature Style: Metalheads frequently cite the band as the Trope Maker for djent; the genre's name itself being derived from the sound of their signature palm-muted and heavily-bent guitar riffs. The band, however, has done everything from slow and heavy Groove Metal with sparse beats akin to Pantera's slower material and arrythmic, discordant and extremely noisy metal with loads of chugging and atonal leadwork.
- Spoken Word in Music: Drummer Tomas Haake dominates this trope in an unholy fashion. Some examples can be listened in songs like "Spasm", "The Exquisite Machinery of Torture" and "Dancers to a Discordant System".
- Three Chords and the Truth: They have written songs with only two or three notes.
- Uncommon Time: Frequently considered the rivals to Tool in taking this trope Up to Eleven. According to Hagström, they're not that big on odd time signatures. All of their music is based on a 4/4 centre, no matter how far out the rhythms wander. In fact, only one song in any of their last three studio albums has been written in a time signature other than 4/4. "Dancers to a Discordant System" was written in 6/8, and we all know that barely counts. That being said, they are no doubt masters of polyrhythms; this article barely scratches the surface. Most of the odd feeling of their songs comes from their unique style: all the guitar and bass is played in rhythm with the drum parts.
- Updated Re-release: A rare musical example of this (besides the standard reissues with bonus tracks that nearly every band has): The Nothing album was re-released with rerecorded guitars, new programmed drum tracks, and some other minor changes because the band was dissatisfied with the production of the initial release.
- Vocal Tag Team: Kidman and Haake.
- Word Salad Lyrics: They sometime use too much jargon that would normally make no sense to most listeners.
- X Meets Y: Pantera meets Dream Theater or Nevermore meets Converge, depending on the song.