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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a non 'metal-head' view, 8 Oct. 2007
By 
Sebastian Palmer "sebuteo" (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
I felt compelled to write this review after reading about eight of the other reviews. As a quick preface: I'm not what you'd call a 'metal fan' as such. I grew up on a diet of classic rock (Zep, Cream, Purple etc), and even followed this interest through to the metal of the 'eighties (Maiden, Metallica, Slayer etc), but my chief musical passions lead me to music like Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, and jazz, funk & soul (Coltrane, Davis, James Brown, The Meters, Curtis Mayfield etc).

My two main points are, however, firstly: that this is - musically at least - phenomenal stuff. Not knowing (or even particularly caring for) genres such as 'death metal' etc I can't compare Meshuggah with all the other bands in this area (e.g. I've never heard Fear Factory). As a drummer I can't help but be awed by Tomas Haake's incredible drumming, and, by way of illustrating some of my limited knowledge of contemporary metal, I find his whole approach (and that of the band as a complete entity) far more interesting and innovative than that of, for example, Mastodon, or their drummer, the much-lauded Brann Daillor. No offence to Daillor, who's clearly a brilliant drummer too, it's just that the Mastodon vibe is much more straight ahead and obvious, which goes for the rhythms and drumming too (and I really quite enjoy some Mastodon stuff by the way).

Before I get to point two, a quick aside re guitars: I think most jazz guitarists would sniff at the idea that the guitar solos are particularly advanced (especially in the harmonic sense: a true genius of the guitar, as long ago as the 1950's, is Joe Pass, and if you need distortion and intensity, then check out John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu period stuff), but I doubt that many open minded jazz drummers could deny that Meshuggah's rhythmic prowess and individuality is pretty awe inspiring. Their lead guitar sound is also so Allan Holdsworth-esque at times that the charge of it being derivative could quite easily be made to stick. It's when the guitars are being used as rhythmic jack-hammers, to bludgeon the senses with the low-tuned and unusual meter angular riffs that one can sensibly talk of Meshuggah's guitarists as being innovative and interesting.

So, on to point two: the vocals/lyrics. This a tricky and complex area, so I might not be that brief... I have to disagree with several reviewers here in commending the vocals. I mean no offence to the singer either, he does a sterling job. I absolutely love the music, but why is it mandatory in the metal arena to have guttural screaming and morbid lyrics? The music makes some very imaginative departures from the typical metal template... it's a shame the lyrics and vocal delivery don't go so far off the map. To qualify: the words are mostly at least interesting, intelligent and display a quasi-philosophical bent (it's great to hear openly athiest views expressed in music without it being in the guise of pantomime paganism or satanism), which is better than some of the teenage death-core tripe some other 'dark' metal bands concentrate on.

I remember a member of Slayer (or was it Dave Mustaine of Megadeth?), possibly Kerry King, saying how lyrics about flowers being sung melodically just wouldn't work in metal... why not? A subsiduary and related musical criticism is about variety. I like Vashti Bunyan and Meshuggah. Are there any artists (there's bound to be a few mavericks out there - The Mars Volta kinda lean in this direction at times) who don't plough such monorail furrows? Beck's a good example of an eclectic and experimental contempoaray pop artist. Metal could do with being less of a specialist introverted ghetto (the intense claustrophobia of much metal music aptly puts one in mind of a teenage lad's bedroom, probably one of the places where most 'dark' metal is consumed)... y'know, open up those doors and windows, let some fresh air in.

Anyway, ultimately Meshuggah are/were a blast of icy cold fresh air in their own way, and despite (and at times because of) their relentlessly heavy dark vibe remain a fairly unique and singular musical unit. I have my criticisms and all that... but I'm still giving this fantastic album the full five stars... 'cause it's brain blattingly brilliant. 'Nuff said.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best album I've ever heard., 13 Jan. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
As far as musical abilities go, this band are awesome. I haven't heard any other type of music (including classical) as complex as this. Basically, if you can't cope with shouted vocals then you won't like this. If you're into silly time signatures, polyrhythms, contemporary classical & jazz, and/or bands like Slayer, Pantera and Fear Factory then you probably will. Its loud, it's nasty and its amazing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex thrash, 2 Oct. 2005
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
Meshuggah's 2nd full-length album, and a massive improvement over Contradictions Collapse. The band have now lost the Metallica influence and developed their own style of extremely complex thrash metal, where despite the guitars, drums and vocals often seemingly playing different time signatures everything adds up into a cohesive whole. While fairly minimal in terms of chord changes - Meshuggah preferring to use the guitars in a more rhythmic fashion - this is nonetheless both brutal and catchy, with the band at this period of their career sounding not dissimilar to Fear Factory's Demanufacture (released the same year). I haven't given this full marks for a couple of reasons: firstly three of the tracks sounded superior when released in earlier less polished form on the Self-Caged EP, and the band themselves would better this release with the faster, more complex, and more brutal Chaosphere - but Destroy Erase Improve is still a great thrash record, and an ideal starting point for anyone interested in this band.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Influences., 27 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
Why the constant comparisons to Fear Factory?? Meshuggah, on this album at least, take more of an influence from Cynic/Pestilence than from FF. This is quite evident in the guitar work on a number of tracks.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Industrial Jazz Metal at its finest!, 21 Mar. 2004
By 
Mr. Pa Ortiz "I need to...return some video t... (Colchester, Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
I'm not entirely sure how I heard about Meshuggah or indeed got round to buying this album. But one thing's for sure...I'm very glad I did. While many metal acts around these days can easily have their influences traced to any number of perm-laden 80's arena-rock bands, Meshuggah seem to draw from more avant-garde and abstract styles of music, specifically jazz fusion, which is demonstrated in the incredibly complex and intricate solo work.
I've heard their music described as "deceptively simple" and this is certainly true. Many of the riffs consist of single notes occassionaly mixed with powerchords and so it would be easy to dismiss the guitarists (and bassist) as untalented. But on a second listen, one begins to appreciate the level of talent required to play in such odd signiatures, with such robotic precision. Added to this that on the whole, the lead guitar work is incredible. It's not your run of the mill "up the pentatonic, down the pentatonic" business. It's more akin to some sort of heavy metal/jazz improv hybrid, but it works. The drumming is undeniably awesome, with every limb seeming to play in different time signiatures, yet keeping in perfect sync. The vocals don't let things down - with a tireless onslaught of guttural screaming sitting perfectly atop the mechanical mayhem created by the other band members. The lyrical content, (whilst familiar territory to any FF fans) is for the most part highly intelligent, dealing with the integration of the organic, and synthetic, and the subversion of the human spirit by the relentless will of "the machine". Very Terminator-esque.
Standout tracks for me, are Future Breed Machine, Beneath, Soul Burn and Transfixion, although the rest of the album is of equally high calibre, with Acrid Placidity providing a well needed rest.
This is an album which takes getting used to. I rather eagerly played it to a fellow music lover and he was severely unimpressed. I myself had initial regrets when it arrived in the mail. Of course now, it's permanently in my cars CD player. The fact that it has now been discontinued is...well...an injustice to all things metal. Try as hard as you can to get a copy of this album. It will change the way you hear and understand music forever!
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most passionate and intense music you'll ever hear, 4 Jun. 2002
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
It's really not often that we come across a truly ORIGINAL band. In the days where nu-metal is becoming the "pop" of the music industry, it's almost impossible to imagine a genuinely UNIQUE band - and with it a genuinely unique sound. Most bands take a vast amount from other bands that have influenced them in some way. And that is fine. But as long as you don't simply become a clone of that band. Meshuggah are Swedish. And Sweden has only recently become known for its metal music standing. Until bands like Entombed came around, "Swedish music" was almost a contradiction in terms. But now that falsity has been broken. In a BIG way. Enter Meshuggah...
In fact, the ONLY band I can possibly think of that you might be able to compare Meshuggah to is Fear Factory. The essentials are there: staccato rhythms, bleak imagery, harsh vocals and that "industrial" sound FF are so very well known for. It was common knowledge that Fear Factory invented industrial metal. But Meshuggah were, in fact, releasing material a year earlier - with their debut EP - Meshuggah" (commonly known as "Psykisk Testbild") being released in 1989 - two years before the Factory's "Soul Of A New Machine". And Meshuggah's sound hasn't changed all that much from this release, through over 6 new CDs and 2 incredible CD's.
"Destroy, Erase, Improve" is Meshuggah's first attempt at a full-length album of original material. Their previous releases, such as 1991's "Contradictions Collapse", 1994's "None", and early 1995's "Selfcaged" contain some full tracks, but all of them contain remixes and revamped versions of older songs.
"DEI" hits the spot with incredible fury, opening the record with "Future Breed Machine" - a sonic explosion of twisted guitar riffery and baffling techno rhythms. And this is where Meshuggah come into their own. If there were ONE thing you could use to describe their originality by, it would be "poly-rhythms". Being a drummer, I can usually piece together the drum tracks on any song. Fear Factory's "Pisschrist" is the perfect example. But with Meshuggah, Tomas Haake (drums) manages to baffle the most hardened sticksman with his incredible cross-rhythms and intense double-bass. It seems that Jens Kidman (lead vocals) is in a world of his own, singing AGAINST the rhythms the rest of the band play. But in a weird way it all "clicks". Fredrik Thordendal (rhythm, solo and synths), Marten Hagstrom and Peter Nordin never once stray from the rhythm. They create images of bleak landscapes, politically oppressed societies scared to the skin by the threat of technology taking over and combine a feeling of humanity and brutality beyond the imagination. If I could display this music in an image, it would be any work by the Swiss artist and genius HR Giger.
I played this album to my parents who are both international classical pianists and musical lecturers and neither of them could piece together the actual time signatures the band uses. Yet they were sure that it was completely in time and ultimately extremely intelligent musicianship. This is coming from classical pianists so it must mean something!
"Soul Burn" and "Suffer In Truth" have strong likenesses to early Fear Factory in terms of vocal style, creating images of Jens Kidman annihilating a microphone somewhere in a Swedish recording studio. "Sublevels" is an awesome close to an awesome album and maintains a bewildering pace and fury that starts at a level only imaginable by maybe a 10-piece band.
If you are into what I would describe as "industrial metal" and you have maybe checked out Fear Factory, then I can't imagine a better CD to go and buy. If you have heard some Meshuggah before and want to get something by them, "DEI" is perhaps their best work. "Chaosphere" is equally intense, but might give you misconceptions of the band's diversity in the past. If you are into Slipknot, Papa Roach and Nickelback go buy this CD right now and you will experience simply the best metal ever created.
Intense, inventive, genre-defining, intelligent beyond our comprehension.
Don't forget to check out:
"Chaosphere"
"Contradictions Collapse"
"Rare Trax"
"None"
"Meshuggah"
"The True Human Design"
"Selfcaged"
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meshuggahs finest hour...., 30 Jun. 2003
By 
Budgie (Lincoln, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
From the moment the track 'Future Breed Machine' kicks off with its shiczo guitar riffs and pounding double bass provided by Thomas Haake i knew this album was going to blow me away. This whole album is Meshuggah, this sums up the band in ten tracks of sheer insane cyber thrash. Tracks two 'Beneath' and three 'Soul Burn' display the talent the band have to incorporate polyrythms into their music. After the first three tracks have completely blown u off ur seat u dont expect the second half to do the same but it does. 'Transfixion' and 'Vanished' are awesome tracks which only enhance the meshuggah style. Track seven 'Inside whats within behind' is the first of two stand out tracks of this album. It builds up with pounding toms to a solid rythm whichs makes u head just naturally bang. The second stand out track is track ten the final track 'Sublevels' which is fast and heavy which leaves u breathless at the end of an amazing album. Buy it now, it will change ur life i guarantee it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars me shuggar cd, 26 Sept. 2009
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
bought as christmas present for somebody but the person i bought this cd for loved it
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ultra heavy intense Cyber Metal, 28 Dec. 2003
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
Meshuggah are a bit of an oddity. They’re often described as being a technical Death Metal band, and when you first listen to them, it does seem as if this is true. However, if you actually analyse what is being played, it is not that technical or intricate at all, especially if you compare it to a genuine technical Death Metal band such as Cryptopsy. This doesn’t mean that Meshuggah are a bad band though, far from it, it’s just that their reputation sometimes puts people off because they believe that it will only be liked by serious musicians. However, I think that this will appeal to any fans of heavy music. Bizarrely for a band with the image they have for ultra-complexity in their music, the band Meshuggah sound most like is Demanufacture-era Fear Factory with their staccato riffs and liberal use of double bass drumming. However, one aspect where these Swedes are far ahead of the American band is in their guitar solos. In these days of pre-packaged plastic Nu-Metal rubbish, guitar solos have gone somewhat out of fashion, but if you want to hear a skilled guitarist showing what he’s capable of, listen to this record. The solo that Fredrik Thordendal pulls off on the opening track Future Breed Machine is quite simply breathtaking, whilst the one on Soul Burn is even better, and neither would sound out of place if Trey Azagthoth played it on a Morbid Angel album. This is one aspect of Meshuggah’s sound which truly is technical; Thordendal’s level of skill on his instrument is something to behold. Also, every riff on the whole album is satisfyingly meaty, with seven stringed guitars sometimes used to make the sound even more skull-crushing. The heavyness is not quite at the insane level of the next full album 'Chaosphere', but it still mops up the floor with Fear Factory or any other band of similarity. Another great point about Meshuggah is Jens Kidman’s vocals, whilst by no means the most brutal you will ever hear in Death or Thrash Metal, they are gruff and intense and fit the furious instrumental accompaniment perfectly. You really shouldn’t let the band’s slightly intimidating reputation put you off, so long as you like your music seriously heavy, fans of all kinds of Metal will enjoy this, not just the dedicated guitar heroes.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last true original metal album., 22 Sept. 2007
By 
Ld Gray "ekulyarg" (The Centre) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
Firstly, this is not THRASH as some of my fellow reviewers label it, it is not MATH METAL, (what the hell is that anyway?)
What this album is.....
It is quite simply the finest album to come from Scandanavia EVER! Forget what you think you know about metal if you think anything else.
Even 12 years later the percussion is sublime, the brutality excessive and most of all it is not an album you will listen to incessantly for a couple of months and then burn, trust me I have been listening to this since they supported Machine Head all those years ago and it is still killer.
The only problem is that besides Chaosphere, the rest of their catalogue sucks BIG, the reason you ask? It is because their are far too many people out there, like my fellow reviewers, who like the garbage they have produced post 2000, a message to those guys, SHUT UP, you have no clue about anything and probably consider Nickleback to be heavy metal.
Anyway back to the point, buy this and Chaosphere then check out Hatesphere, early MNEMIC and Evile.
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Destroy Erase Improve by Meshuggah (Audio CD - 2002)
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