PRELISTENING: Meshuggah – Immutable

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In a world where audiences can’t go see their favorite bands live and music journalists can’t attend industry events like prelistenings or even do face-to-face interviews, a virtual prelistening session of any band is a welcome given! Atomic Fire Records invited us over to listen to progressive metal act MESHUGGAH‘s prelistening session of “Immutable” on January 14th, 2021, we’re here to tell you about our first impressions…

We were welcomed by Atomic Fire’s Markus Wosgien who immediately gave the word to Tomas Haake. He explained that the album is on the long side, according to him. With thirteen tracks and clocking in at 68 minutes, it’s probably the longest MESHUGGAH record ever. The band wanted to do something new, while also going back to their roots, which practically means that there are calm parts that let the record breathe to a certain degree.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “immutable” means “unchanging over time or unable to be changed.” That is a pretty solid description of the machinery behind MESHUGGAH. While arguably the band’s sound has evolved at least a little over the years, the day that the 5-piece released a bad album hasn’t occurred as of yet and – let’s be real – maybe never will, making MESHUGGAH perhaps the most consistent band in history. In fact, just 10 seconds of a teaser of “Ligature Marks” spurred an excited fan to make a 1-hour loop of the 10-second lasting teaser riff. “Immutable,” however, doesn’t only refer to the powerhouse that is MESHUGGAH, it’s also the main idea behind the lyrics and themes on this record.

So, first impressions? What Haake told us at the beginning of the session is essentially true. “Immutable” is extremely dynamic, and it’s clear right from the start in “Broken Cog”; even though the track starts off with a heavy rhythmic section, it stays relatively on the calmer side, with a modern edge to it. In the beginning, there are no growls, but that changes as the song progresses. What I liked most about this song is that the lyrics almost predicted how Jens would sing – if the word “whisper” came along, then that’s precisely what the vocals did.

Then, there are songs that are pretty heavy across the line; for instance, “The Abysmal Eye” and “Armies of the Propestorous.” The album also contains a couple of extremely groovy songs, such as “Ligature Marks” (that bass tone is rad!). A lot of the journalists really liked “Phantoms,” which was one of the more complex songs on the record. It became very intense toward the end, which was perhaps one of the very highlights of the record. If you were looking for a song that you would want to head-bang to, it’s definitely going to be “God He Sees In Mirrors,” which I am honestly looking forward to hearing live. Just listening to the album version alone was enough to pull a muscle in my neck.

The longest track on the album was the very surprising “They Move Below,” which also formed the centerpiece of the record. It started off with a beautiful acoustic intro, which mislead many of the journalists, as 2 minutes in, a groovy son-of-a-bitch’s riff kicks in and changes the atmosphere completely. Oh and have I mentioned yet that this track is completely instrumental? It thus forms an incredible atmospheric rollercoaster in the center of the album where every added layer comes as a complete surprise every time you think that you’re nearing the end. Haake also mentioned that the working title of this track originally was “Orion 2” and he mentioned how “Master of Puppets” was a big inspiration source for this record; don’t worry though, it’s 200% MESHUGGAH.

A song that I’m sure fans are going to love is “Kaleidoscope,” which is more in the style of their previous record, “The Violent Sleep of Reason.” The shortest track on the record is “Black Cathedral,” a dark instrumental intermezzo. The track is such a tease because it feels like it is building up to something and then… it ends. However, the darkness introduced there progresses into the next song, “I Am That Thirst.” Towards the ending of that track, Tomas Haake is doing incredible things with his drum kit.

The bass-heavy “The Faultless” switched things up again and introduced some melodic elements at the same time. The album ended with “Past Tense,” an appropriate title for the last track. The song started with a peculiar guitar melody where here and there are some dissonant tones.

Truthfully, I was a little bit overwhelmed by the diversity of this listening experience: progressive, heavy, groovy, and a continuous slap in the face to those who think that they understand structure and patterns in music. Even Fibonacci wouldn’t have seen certain sections off this record coming! With “Immutable,” MESHUGGAH are back claiming their number one spot as innovators in extreme/progressive metal, the question is are you ready for it?

Tracklist

1. Broken Cog
2. The Abysmal Eye
3. Light The Shortening Fuse
4. Phantoms
5. Ligature Marks
6. God He Sees In Mirrors
7. They Move Below
8. Kaleidoscope
9. Black Cathedral
10. I Am That Thirst
11. The Faultless
12. Armies Of The Preposterous
13. Past Tense