Meshuggah Catch Thirtythree
Grade
A-
 
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Meshuggah has never failed to push the envelope when it comes to their music. They've been unflinching in their songwriting and unapologetic in their delivery. Their progress from older albums to Destroy, Erase, Improve to Chaosphere to Nothing has shown more and more experimentation with timing patterns and the brutal repetition of their intense riffs and hammering drum beats. Their detailed and powerful guitar and bass lines are done in such a way that notes are obviously toiled over and plotted before they're recorded. When listing to Meshuggah, one has to keep in mind that the guitars, drums and bass all feel chaotic, until you realize that the synch up in intervals into a massive audio overture. Jens Kidman's vocals are belligerent and powerful to the point of attacking the listener.

Previous efforts have provided a batch of usually unrelated tracks compiled into a single album. With Catch ThirtyThree, Meshuggah offers the listener an experiment. The album is delivered as a single forty-seven minute long song. For those faint of heart, the album is segmented into thirteen chapters, but if you listen to the album from beginning to end, you'll have very little clue of where one track ends and another begins.

While the single song concept offers a high degree of repetition in beats and riffs, there is a good bit of added elements that both keeps that song progressing and offers a nice degree of variety. The album opens with a triptych of songs (Autonomy Lost, Disenchantment, and Imprint of the Un-Saved) that flow from one into another, acting almost as one song with minor variations that set each apart. The tone they set shifts gears once the the fourth track arrives, proving that the album won't pummel the listener for the length of the album. The Paradoxical Shadow begins with the chattering guitar "static" that manages to serve as a background element throughout most of the album. It then kicks into a bold, yet slower groove, trodding the theme forward to the next track, Re-Inanimate, an almost subdued offering where Jens nearly whispers his vocals. This is quickly altered as Entrapment blasts into life, proving to be a more intense progression of the previous track featuring a wailing guitar effort and a resolution to the second triptych of songs.

Mind's Mirrors proves to be a conceptual bridge between the previous track and the next two. With low tone guitar growls and synthesized spoken word opening the track, one gets a good idea of the shift from the first part of the album to the second. The music slowly builds from there, compiling in parts and growing in tempo until it hits In Death - Is Life, a short yet catchy "intro" to In Death - Is Death, a thirteen minute opus that proves to be the core of the whole album. There are more experimental moments in this track, leading to a degradation of the established patterns and a slow weaving of tone towards the next track.

Shed jumps back into the patterned groove, offering probably the single most digestible track on the album. Featuring some exceptionally powerful moments, this track may be one of the few moments where you can give someone a grasp of what the album has to offer. Personae Non Gratae follows this with some vicious thrashing and mechanical drumming. And then, it all shifts to Dehumanization, which proves to be a shifting of the tempo and mood into the final track, Sum, a seven minute resolution of the album's music themes that devolves into dark and scatter tones.

For fans of Meshuggah, this album is a must buy. There is little here that is radio-friendly or segmented in such a way as to be easily digestible. While the album presents more laid back grooves from time to time, it is still filed to the bring with Meshuggah's patterns and powerful presence. This may not be the best album to offer those new to the act, but its still a strong effort that deserves to be noticed.

- - Vane

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