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MESHUGGAH ‘Catch ThirtyThree’
Nuclear Blast(2005)


Having twice lost the opportunity to see them live, and being constantly reminded, by many different people, that they are hailed as one of the most important bands in today's avant-garde (as if that's enough to describe a band like them) Metal scene, Meshuggah's new album "Catch Thirty-Three" was one of the upcoming releases that I was really looking forward to listen to. So far, the five Swedes have done really well for themselves. Albums such as "Chaosphere"(1998) and "Nothing"(2002) have sold thousands of copies world-wide, important music magazines like the Rolling Stone have named them as "One of the ten most important hard and heavy bands" and they have also performed in big festivals like the Ozzfest.

Undoubtedly, there have been quite a few great moments in the band's history so far, but it looks like 2005 is going to be the year of changes for the noisy Swedes. After a long-term relationship with Nuclear Blast, Meshuggah are about to release their final full-length album with the label, entitled "Catch Thirty-Three" - the album that was finally going to introduce me to the crazy world of low-tuned guitars, heavy growls and repetitive drum themes.

Many people, whose music taste is quite similar to mine, have mentioned that "Catch Thirty Three" is not the kind of album that they would recommend to someone who has never listened to Meshuggah's music before, and having spent more than a couple weeks listening to this release, I can understand where they were coming from. "Catch Thirty Three" is a forty-eight minute musical piece that's divided into thirteen different “parts”, and by far one of the weirdest albums that I've ever listened to.

Your voyage with the Meshuggah star ship is not going to be an easy one, and "Autonomy Lost", the opening track of the album, is here to convince you of that. The song kicks off with an insane guitar riff, which is to become the foundation on which the first six compositions of the album are based upon. The repetitive nature of their music along with the loop "strategy" that the members of Meshuggah have chosen to follow, was originally not received so well by my nervous system. Having decided to invest a large amount of my spare time listening to "Catch Thirty-Three" though, I realised that each note that this band has recorded is like an hieroglyphic symbol that, once properly translated, will guide you to the well-hidden treasure.

After experiencing that revelation, I was no longer able to resist the unearthly calling that was generated by the sounds of this album. Ten minutes after having pushed the play button I came across the first form of what is generally accepted as guitar melody, which, together with Jens Kidman's "alien" vocals, sounded like the perfect soundtrack for the "Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy". Having really appreciated that four and a half minute break, I was now better prepared for the band's following "invasion" with "In Death - Is Life" and the thirteen and a half minute opus "In Death - Is Death" - a song that summarises the whole feeling of the album. The rest of the songs will follow in a similar pattern until the acoustic/melodic guitar theme of "Sum" gradually bring this journey to an end.

Knowing that Meshuggah and Nuclear Blast are not having the best of relationships at the moment, and seeing as "Catch Thirty-Three" was the final product of that collaboration, I really didn't know how committed the members of Meshuggah would be on this release. Not to fear, though, because this is a good quality release that will definitely keep the fans of the band satisfied, and also all the people who are willing to "hear” between the lines when it comes to good quality music.


Review by John Stefanis

Related>>Meshuggah interview

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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