Artists often choose album titles that carry some sort of esoteric meaning. In the follow-up to 2008’s Obzen, the aptly titled Koloss may be Meshuggah’s heaviest album yet. The album is heavy, not in a musical sense, but in terms of the sound. Make no mistake, this album destroys in a fashion you’ve come to expect from Meshuggah, but the production really carries a lot of weight here. This time around, the band decided to loosen the reigns and give their sound a much more natural feel. Although very good, the last couple releases had a mechanical, machine-like atmosphere to them. In contrast, Koloss feels open and expansive, allowing the sound to get a full head of steam before pulverizing your innards.
The first two tracks to debut online were “Do Not Look Down” and “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion,” and gave curious fans a glimpse of an overriding theme to the album. These tracks exhibit a rhythm, groove, and dare I say, funk, never really expressed on previous efforts. After the initial listening, some fans expressed that the songs were a bit slow and straightforward, wondering if the band took a bit of the edge off for this album. The answer is an unequivocal, no. Tracks such as, “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” and “The Hurt That Finds You First” blaze through your speakers at a furious rate. The riff in “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” sounds like a swarm of hornets circling around your head. The album winds down with “Demiurge,” another track that revisits that groove so prevalent on the album, easing you into the final track, “The Last Vigil.” It’s a soothing and fitting end to the crashing, oceanic waves of sound that tossed you around like a rag doll for 50 minutes.
For all the great things about Koloss, there is one slight issue with the album. The snare drum on “The Hurt That Finds You First” sounds a bit hollow. It wouldn’t have been an issue, except the song is very fast and the rapid drum hits produce an endless ping of beating a steel drum. It’s not quite St. Anger hollow, but it’s still a bit distracting. Despite that single gripe, the album is fantastic. The sound on Koloss is every bit as large as the name suggests. Upon the initial spin, it was clearly evident that this album had a different vibe from previous Meshuggah albums. Not only did it have a more natural and organic sound, but much of the album finds a groove and rhythm that feels familiar, in a general sense, but very new for the band. Meshuggah show that they can remain every bit as mind-blowing, without being overly sophisticated, and even add touches of style without losing their edge.
1. “I Am Colossus”
2. “The Demon’s Name Is Surveillance” *
3. “Do Not Look Down” *
4. “Behind the Sun”
5. “The Hurt That Finds You First”
6. “Marrow” *
7. “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” *
9. “Demiurge” *
10. “The Last Vigil”
* Editor’s Choice tracks