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Meshuggah - "Koloss" (CD)

Meshuggah - "Koloss" CD cover image

"Koloss" track listing:

1. I Am Colossus (4:43)
2. The Demon's Name Is Surveillance (4:39)
3. Do Not Look Down (4:44)
4. Behind the Sun (6:14)
5. The Hurt That Finds You First (5:33)
6. Marrow (5:35)
7. Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion (6:53)
8. Swarm (5:26)
9. Demiurge (6:12)
10. The Last Vigil (4:32)

Reviewed by on June 2, 2012

"'Koloss' is the most varied and diverse album that Meshuggah has ever made, and each and every last song would fit on a live set by the band."

Beginning slow and ponderous in a fashion similar to “Nothing,” and then changing on the next track to a faster piece that's the most furious Meshuggah has been since “Chaosphere,” “Do Not Look Down” sets the stage for what Meshuggah has done with “Koloss.” To put it plainly, “Koloss” is the point in Meshuggah's career where people talk about how a band “sounds like Meshuggah.” Meshuggah no longer needs to philosophize about direction in the studio and can simply write a collection of Meshuggah songs. That's hardly a bad thing, as “Koloss” is every bit as good as the rest of Meshuggah's discography. There's a very distinct lack of focus compared to the band's previous work, which causes “Koloss” to require multiple listens before it starts growing on you.

The best parts of Koloss are the points where the album picks up tempo. Not to say that the fast parts sound at all like “Chaosphere,” but rather a less chunky, possibly even blackened, take on Meshuggah. While there are still plenty of slow heavy riffs for the fans of “ObZen” and “Nothing,” the best moments on Koloss happen on songs like “The Hurt That Finds You Fast” and “Swarm,” where the pace picks up and Meshuggah begins to take a page from “Contradictions Collapse” in terms of thrashy riffing. Even the slower songs, like “Behind the Sun” and “Marrow,” are faster than most of the band's material from the past decade, which makes the incredibly slow pace of “I Am Colossus” and “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” seem like breathers despite their intensity.

That leads to the biggest problem with “Koloss.” It's an album that doesn’t know if it wants to be a career retrospective or progress further and tries instead to do both, even if it manages to be successful in doing so. Yes, it's a good album, and a very fine one at that, but it's also unfocused; almost like a collection of Meshuggah B-sides. Then again, when an album's major flaw comes about despite the fact that it's awesome, it's really nit-picky to whine about it, especially when Meshuggah hasn't released an album since 2008.

At the end of the day, “Koloss” is the most varied and diverse album that Meshuggah has ever made, and each and every last song would fit on a live set by the band. It's also great to see Meshuggah pick up the tempo after over a decade of mid-paced songs. While the djent movement may soon soil Meshuggah's name due to overexposure and trend hopping, “Koloss” is certain to stand the test of time.

Highs: The fastest tempos since "Chaosphere," the most diverse Meshuggah album since “Destroy Erase Improve”

Lows: Not as focused as other Meshuggah albums, takes multiple spins before it sinks in

Bottom line: Meshuggah proves that they can do no wrong with "Koloss."

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)