Nothing (special edition 2-disc set)
Company: Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Al Kikuras
I am sure this review will lead to me being stoned. Not in the Jeff Spicoli sense, mind you, but in the biblical/The Crucible sense.
I have a bunch of Meshuggah records. The only one I give a toss about is Chaosphere. The rest... they bore me. Sure, I can appreciate the musicianship. Marvel at the obtuse arrangements, how the musicians dissect rhythm and timing, and how the intensity never lets up. But aside from Chaosphere, I have found Meshuggah's output to be soulless. Not in the good way either. Like a perfectly executed painting of a brick wall, and Nothing just reinforces that for me further. You may be thinking it is difficult, if not impossible, to play music this jagged and chaotic and have soul intact... and I mean soul like Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, pick-your-name-old-blues guy Johnson soul, but just give Gorguts' Obscura a listen to see what I mean. As much, if not more, "out" than anything Meshuggah has done, but organic and emotional metal.
Sure, there are some good moments... like the opening riff to "Perpetual Black Second," that pops up throughout the tune, but for the most part, the songs are formulaic and just move from one to the next with very few moments where the hammer hits you straight in the middle of the forehead to wake you the fuck up. The monotone vocals don't help. Granted, the forumla is theirs... you hear Meshuggah, and know Meshuggah, but there is something to be said for stretching your own boundaries, even if they are already wide open, and Meshuggah aren't doing it.
Why is it that Chaosphere gets me so much then? I don't know. I guess the same reason that Dogman is the only King's X album I find myself listening to, despite having their whole discography and knowing it is all good. In both cases though (King's X and Meshuggah), the bands excel in the live arena. The material takes on a life that it loses on record, but those two albums are the only in their discography that really sink in and grab me.
Those of you that worship at the altar of Meshuggah will find the album and re-release to be very worthwhile. Not being intimately familiar with the original release, I can't say how much this re-mastering holds up. The video included in the bonus disc is very good. The live stuff is professionally shot and with great sound, and that organic element sorely missing from the record is firmly in place. Though they may lack the budget of most MTV pap, the videos are interesting, especially the low-fi "air band" New Millennium Cyanide Christ video shot in the back of a tour bus, and the hilarious Rational Gaze clip, both showing lighter sides of the band.