ALBUM REVIEW: The Violent Sleep of Reason – Meshuggah

MESHUGGAH are one of Sweden’s best known and best loved extreme metal bands. Their latest abstract creation The Violent Sleep of Reason, is a gift of progressive, powerful music that seeks to crush the very bones of you under the weight of it.

As always with MESHUGGAH, as an album The Violent Sleep of Reason has a strong opener, Clockworks is a confusion of drums and rising tension, a monotony of melodies, and a strong example of MESHUGGAH putting their best foot forward. Initially not the hard and complex listening experience, there are some really beautiful parts that just ooze with character and mush you to new levels of concentration. With subtly, the intricacies come from the more intense and brutal points within the song. This one develops at a steady pace to a thing of brilliant beauty, and good God, the pacing – at seven minutes, it’s a decent length, but the whole track is so engaging that it hardly feels it. Secondly, Born In Dissonance is a little more erratic straight off the bat, a frenzy waiting to be unleashed. The vocals are sublime, they mix and provide a tapestry of disillusion over the utterly bitter sweet riffs and charring breakdowns. MonstroCity is yet another track that displays complete control and malice. It’s a testament to MESHUGGAH that even after eight albums their music is still fresh, raw and methodically put together to bring a really immersive sound. The bass on this particular track is just something else, not to mention the guitar work- it’s the kind of class that you don’t try and dissect. You just lose yourself to it.

Getting to the heart of album now, By The Ton will blow your mind from its very start. It’s a haze, honestly, to listen to this track. Time signatures, tempos, they don’t matter. It’s all about the feel here, and just as well. You’d have little to no chance of keeping up with it. In the bizarre and twisting turns of this track, the influence this band is having on many new bands is so apparent. A mammoth of track, the beating heart of this song is busting with emotion. It’s superb. Equally, and even more tremendously, Violent Sleep of Reason essentially just wants to eat you alive. There’s no mercy in it, every element and note of composition is a step into the trippy, into the belly of the beast. Waxing lyrical to this, it’s a sonic blend of the symphonic, and a symbolic leap into the abyss. The turns and changes are designed to break down upon you, your souls is taken hold of. Honestly, to try and give a poetic edge to this track wouldn’t do it justice. It’s just… utterly heavy. So heavy you honestly might not come out the other end the same person.

After such an onslaught, Ivory Tower brings back a little funk and groove to the extremes of musical melody, and MESHUGGAH know just how to walk that line like it’s not even a problem. By this point in the album, if you’re not impressed, then you need to turn this off. Music doesn’t come much better than this, a stunning, gripping piece of weighty music with impeccable timing. This is really Metal at its best.

Here we shift into Stifled, which as a track is the opposite of its name. A blaze of chugging, humming basslines, guitars at their most infectious, drums keeping a rhyme and a sizzle that gets right under the skin. This whole album is so implacably produced, the amount of work that has gone into keeping this sound rounded and fresh is impressive, though by now it’s just what we expect of metal giants the likes of MESHUGGAH. One to hold out for until the end – the emotional tug is something we promise you won’t be disappointed with.

Nostrum means two things. An unqualified person who administers ineffective medicine, or a means of bringing about social or political reform. These points in themselves seem to be juxtaposed, and it’s with this in mind that adds the cherry to the cake of this beast. A contrast in tone, in intention- everything that could be harmonious is taken away here and replaced with an uncomfortable yet oddly sublime piece that is so perfectly placed in the scheme of things it’s hard to imagine it working anywhere else in this line-up. Do try and prepare yourself for this one, though honestly it won’t do you much good. You’ll be floored.

Our Rage Won’t Die is the penultimate punch before the fall for us here. There is no release on The Violent Sleep of Reason, no escape from the brutality. Mercy is for the weak, and in all truth the groove and pulse of Our Rage Won’t Die is pure extreme bliss.

Finally Into Decay leads in with a fuzzy distortion that instantly has your hairs on end. This is going to be an ending for sure. One with a kick in the face for you no question. Droning, stretched, warped, and as evidently heavy as ever, anyone who’s been to the far side of the dark. After all this album has thrown at you, it’s so joyous to have a track so complete and fully realised as this to bow out on. Truly, there has been no filler or half measures here, and it’s got to be a testament to the inspirational minds of the band at hand.

Proving that after eight albums they are still kings, MESHUGGAH have more than obliterated any standards of extreme metal. Full and thick, The Violent Sleep of Reason is an assault on your sanity. You won’t find a more complete album this side of the year.

Rating: 9/10

 The Violent Sleep of Reason - Meshuggah

The Violent Sleep of Reason is set for release on October 7th via Nuclear Blast Records.

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