Explorers of New Metal Ground
Alright, I usually don't like all-screaming vocals, but this band really does it for me.
For one thing, he's not screaming all the way through every song. Oftentimes he just lets the band do its thing, sometimes for several minutes at a time. I can imagine him onstage, feeling the energy of the crowd, the band, and just waiting for that chance for his part to come up, building up that energy, walking the stage, feeling his own inner zen, being at peace among the heaviness and the fellow math metal bretheren, and when he does finally release his screams, he's had time to build it up and concentrate and make it sound awesome.
He's also really just about using his voice as an instrument, rather than a way to make you feel sorry for him. There's no angst in his vocals. No childishness. No room for love. He stares death in the face and feels the fear of the images his band's metal conjures.
And the guitars.... oh my god. On Catch, the two guitarists are playing custom-built, Ibanez 8-string guitars. The band's very informative Wikipedia page contains a quote from one of the guitarists where he says that trying to play power chords on one of those 8-string beasts sounds too mushy. It makes sense. You ever try to play a low power chord on a bass guitar? It sounds like shit, unless you really know what you're doing and have a good sound. That's why all the riffs on Catch are single-string riffs, similar to bass lines. Somehow it's still ultra-metal and ultra-brutal. This album certainly conquers new ground in metal.
One feeling I get from this album is one of ... I dunno, a mechanical mechanation of some sort. Like the people making this music aren't human. Lots of metal, especially screamo metal, reminds me more of human weakness than strength..
The combination of two guitarists and a bassist playing those single-note lines, all the same, give those lines a big sound. A less discerning listener might think that the band is just one guitarist, a drummer and the vocalist. But that's cause all three of those Swedes are playing in exact unison. It's a sound you won't get with any other band. It's thick and mechanical and human. Meshuggah borrows from no one, except maybe Metallica, and every metal band must do this. It's in the rules.
Another important thing about this band--they almost never are playing in 4/4 time. It's beautiful. You have to remain open to suggestion with Meshuggah, cause you can never predict where they're gonna go. It's not really easy metal to follow, but it is easy to listen to. Because, somehow, you can bob your head to almost all of their riffs. Metal definitely needs a beat you can get behind, even if every rhythm is a polyrhythm. Somehow their drummer is so kickass that he can go along with these insane guitar lines, and yet make it head-bob-able.
Every song on Catch is a movement in the one song that comprises the whole album. Lots of tracks will change without you realizing it, unless you dutifully watch the track times, which is boring. It adds a prog element to the music. There are recurring themes and riffs that are heard all throughout the album, and yet there are still individual songs to pick out. Here is a video for one such song, "Shed." It comes near the end of the album. It's the epitome of badass. Enjoy.