I never bought the charade for a second; Meshuggah have always been metal music made by robots for robots. And what their new album, Immutable, is showing us is that these droids are actually developing souls. By dipping their bionic toes into atmospheric and emotional undercurrents, they’ve produced another rhythmically-diverse composition, but not one that’s completely characterized by 4-4s, ones, and zeros.
In the album’s opening track, “Broken Cog,” their experimental intent is immediately exposed when broad-yeller Jens Kidman whispers most of the song’s lyrics. Don’t panic, though, the Swedish tech giants’ signature instrumentation in their metallic dimension remains immutable–seven-string guitars tuned down to netherworld rubber band and polyrhythmic drumming by Tomas Haake that’s opaquely tribal. Haake’s technical sorcery is on full display during the intro riff’s transformation in “Light the Shortening Fuse,” where he makes the pace seem fast while keeping a slow beat.
“Phantoms” is a spectrally haunting track, giving the impression that there’s also a ghost in the Meshuggah machine. The heaviest jam on Immutable by a tiny margin is “Ligature Marks,” sporting a palm-muted hairy beatdown for its intro, and toms accentuating this beastly riff like war drums for its outro. Smack-dab in the middle of the record is a nine-and-a-half-minute instrumental, “They Move Below,” which features a delicate clean guitar prologue progressing into an intense melodic trial culminating in a heavy blooming riff.
Although he wasn’t heavily involved in the songwriting process for Immutable with fellow guitarist Mårten Hagström, Fredrik Thordendal’s presence is still felt through his trademark Tron-like guitar leads, especially in “Kaleidoscope.” Following a brief interlude—a dual tremolo-picked guitar track laden with Cannibal Corpse vibes titled “Black Cathedral”—the sense of urgency is ramped up big time with “I Am That Thirst.” Here, the Meshuggah bot has clearly had enough of the world’s BS and is voicing its disdain.
You can sense Meshuggah’s confusion toward all these new, unprecedented, human-like feelings through the scaling grooves in “The Faultless.” And finally, Immutable puts a bow on its 13-track, 67-minute-long, spiritual cyber journey by closing with “Past Tense.” This creepy, clean-guitar instrumental signifies the band’s vampiric claim to metal immortality.
It’s refreshing to see an influential band—giving birth to sub-genres and countless derivatives—still pushing their own limits and taking risks musically after 30-plus years in the game. Witness Meshuggah’s latest jaw-dropping act of progression when Immutable releases April 1 via Atomic Fire.
01. Broken Cog
02. The Abysmal Eye
03. Light The Shortening Fuse
05. Ligature Marks
06. God He Sees In Mirrors
07. They Move Below
09. Black Cathedral
10. I Am That Thirst
11. The Faultless
12. Armies Of The Preposterous
13. Past Tense