Meshuggah, High on Fire | House of Blues | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Olle Carlsson

Meshuggah, High on Fire 

When: Fri., Oct. 28, 8 p.m. 2016
Price: $37.50
On Meshuggah’s new eighth studio full-length, The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast), these deranged Swedes refine the style they’ve made famous—death metal that sounds like it’s been fed through the nested gears of a colossal alien machine. This time the lyrics allegedly address terrorism, extremism, and the threat of religious dogma, but if you spend your valuable Meshuggah time trying to figure out what front man Jens Kidman is howling about, then you and I have different priorities. I’m here for the glitchy, labyrinthine rhythms—they don’t just shift gears, they whip and spasm and jump sideways into pocket dimensions. “Born in Dissonance” opens with a chunky, stuttering groove that sounds like somebody keeps restarting the YouTube stream, while “Nostrum” uses oddly weighted, bitten-off rushes that feel like a slipping chain. The riffs push around and delay what ought to be their backbeats, or set up a simple, repeated cell only to immediately shatter and mutate it. They dilate and unravel, invert their own logic, and phase one pulse against another. Drummer Tomas Haake has a favorite trick: he’ll play a steady ride against a fractally convoluted pattern whose patchwork of exotic time signatures mere mortals can’t hope to parse. Following that steady, comforting beat while the rest of the song goes haywire is like trying to hang on to your constituent particles while you’re sucked through a wormhole. And at Meshuggah’s live shows, they love to sync the dazzling detonations of their strobes to the complicated shit—which makes it even tougher not to end up as a cloud of plasma.
— Philip Montoro
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