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Meshuggah: Alive
By guest writer Julia Neuman

Release Date: February 9th, 2010
Record Label: Nuclear Blast

My rating points:

    Track Listing:
  1. Perpetual Black Second (4:32)
  2. Electric Red (6:02)
  3. Rational Gaze (5:35)
  4. Pravus (5:21)
  5. Lethargica (5:52)
  6. Combustion (4:16)
  7. Straws Pulled at Random (5:05)
  8. New Millennium Cyanide Christ (4:57)
  9. Stengah (5:56)
  10. The Mouth Licking What You've Bled (3:25)
  11. Humiliative (5:21)
  12. Bleed (7:55)

Anyone who has listened to an album like Chaosphere knows that Meshuggah are the kings of both brutal and technical. But 'king' is a term that barely describes any of these Swedish musicians; despite creating some of metal's most adored material, they have never played to be praised or worshipped. The result is a group of humble yet truly masterful musicians who, for over 20 years, have been delivering a killer sound both live and in the studio. Alive is no exception. The following is a review of the CD portion of the CD-DVD package, which was recorded during the band's 2008-2009 tour and is set for release on February 5th in Europe and February 9th in the U.S.

Hearing a track written by these progressive masterminds, for lack of a textbook description, is like taking a ride on a speeding bullet through a field of exploding landmines. Meshuggah has a distinct, unique sound that never gets boring, especially during a live show. It takes one helluva group of talented human beings to come together and produce the kind of crushing sound that characterizes a Meshuggah concert. Thanks to Alive, fans of extreme metal around the world can have a little taste of live Meshuggah in their own homes. This ain't an album for your grandma, or your crappy laptop speakers. When you get your hands on this CD, make sure you do it justice by listening to it through a good set of speakers and making ample space to move around (because you can't sit still while listening to Meshuggah, you just CAN'T). Then, set aside an hour to soak in the extreme force of Meshuggah's first release since obZen.

Even the most seasoned Meshuggah fans will find a renewed obsession with this band after listening to Alive. Their abstract polyrhythms, which began to make sense after years of listening to their studio albums, once again don't make sense, and I mean this in the best way possible. The Meshuggah sound on Alive is more loaded and in-your-face than ever. It is familiar, but discordant and confusing just as it was when we were first being introduced to their music. It is old yet new again. The guitar, bass and drum work is stellar, as we can always expect from Meshuggah, but the standout aspect of Alive is Jens Kidman's vocals. The sounds coming out of his mouth are even more bruising than they are on the studio albums, which is something many of us never thought possible. Perfect example? 'The Mouth Licking What You've Bled.' There is another sinister dimension present here that is immediately noticeable and adds a darker and more haunting vibe.

Alive opens and continues on with a dose of tracks from obZen and Nothing. 'Perpetual Black Second' explodes with its massive and chugging riff and sets the bar for heaviness on the rest of the album. A few tracks later, the relatively slow 'Lethargica' seems to serve as a contemplative pause in the album, an eye in the Meshuggah storm. Immediately after it come three of the best songs on the album: 'Combustion', 'Straws Pulled At Random' and 'New Millenium Cyanide Christ.' Alive closes with 'Bleed', which, while not as crunchy and tightly-executed as on obZen, does sound heavier than ever.

One other notable thing about the CD is that there is very little crowd noise and/or commentary from the band, reinforcing the fact that Meshuggah has always been about the music. No frills, no facades, just music. Pure technicality mixed with brilliant riffage and brutal vocals. The Alive CD will not disappoint, and we can only expect that the DVD will follow suit. I feel the need to thank Meshuggah for spreading something truthful within a genre that often contains too much falsity and filler. This band is pure fucking metal at its best.

To buy the CD and for more information, visit

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