Swedish technical Metal masters Meshuggah return with Immutable, their first album since 2016s, The Violent Sleep Of Reason, and once again blow everyone else out of the water.
Meshuggah – Immutable (Atomic Fire Records)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Robert Adams
Let’s not beat about the bush here, Immutable is immense. When Devin Townsend sang, “While we all have lots of bands we influence still, we all still rip off Meshuggah” on Planet Of The Apes from his 2011 album Deconstruction, he wasn’t lying.
Meshuggah have said that we should prepare ourselves for the unexpected. “This album is more melodic,” Mårten Hagström says. “It’s longer, and in my opinion, it’s more dynamic than most of our albums.”
Immutable kicks off with the militaresque staccato rhythms of Broken Cog, and straight away, we hear the subtle differences that always set Meshuggah apart from the rest of the herd. The polyrhythms are present and correct, but the whispered menace of Jens Kidman’s vocals makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. He doesn’t get up to full roar until three-quarters of the way through the track. It’s only the first song, and already your mind is blown.
These are the results of the opportunity to spend more time than ever as the band reconstructed their trademark sound. “We wanted to go for air and for dynamics,” Mårten says, “and lo and behold, that actually makes it sound way more like a band, from my perspective.”
Buckle up for the other twelve tracks. This is going to be fascinating. Immutable is the first Meshuggah album to break the 60 minutes running time barrier, clocking in at just over 66 minutes. Three of the album’s 13 tracks are instrumental – probably to give Mr Kidman’s pipes a wee rest – but Meshuggah never fails to deliver.
The musicianship on display throughout is jaw-dropping, with every band member at the very top of their game. The Abysmal Eye is a full-on, take no prisoners assault on the senses, with drummer Thomas Haake proving once more that he can do what very few mere mortals can behind the kit.
Soft keyboards lessen the brutality, or not as the case may be.
They Move Below is the longest track present at 9 minutes 35 seconds and is one of the three instrumentals. It’s an incredible piece of music pulling the listener one way, then the other in the blinking of an eye.
Kaleidoscope shows the technical wonder of Frederik Thordendal and Märten Hagström on guitars as they pull off insanely heavy yet beautifully melodic riffs.
Meshuggah have delivered a team effort and another triumph of resourcefulness with meticulous attention to detail. “It was out in the sticks,” Mårten says of the Studio Sweetspot in Halmstad, Sweden, “in a big shed in the middle of a field. We had no tours going on, and we rented a tour bus for cheap. We drove it down there, and we lived in that.
“So basically, we went on tour to record the album [Laughs], and we worked our brains into pieces. But it was also really free. We went for comfort and quality and a working situation where we didn’t feel stressed at all. That was awesome, and the strongest parts of this album are because of that.”
Meshuggah have never written a single song in straight-up 4/4 time, and I doubt they ever will. They are always pushing the envelope, and with Immutable, they have pushed it further still.
From the beautiful clean picking of the album closer Past Tense, to the sledgehammer intensity of God He Sees In Mirrors, there is something for all Metalheads to be found on Immutable.
It’s truly an incredible work of art.