Meshuggah

Meshuggah
Meshuggah have become one of the most ripped-off bands in extreme metal. The Swedish experimental tech-metal masters' iconic sound has been adopted by countless acts; it's that heavy, chugging guitar rhythm that's now one of the most widely used styles in modern metal, but Meshuggah did it first. Their seventh full-length, Koloss, is the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2008's stellar obZen and while it's still classic Meshuggah, the new record takes a much slower, groove-based approach than the band's previous efforts. Although their sound has been copied Ad infinitum, with Koloss, Meshuggah prove that they still do it best.

Was there a specific musical direction you wanted to go in for Koloss?
Marten Hagström: Yeah, in a way we wanted to focus more on the groove aspect and hopefully achieve a more organic and slightly warmer tone than previously. Apart from that, we really just did what we always try to do, which is to come up with some stuff that's interesting to us.

What was the writing and recording process like for this album?
Chaotic, as always. We normally write all the stuff and "finalize" the songs that go on the album before the recording starts, but this time it was more like a simultaneous thing. When we started tracking the drums for the first song, we still had half the album left to write. All that made it a more collaborative effort than in a long time, if ever.

Is there a concept or theme behind the album?
No, not really. All the lyrics deal with dogma in one way or another, but it's pretty loose and not really conceptual in any way.

What is the significance and meaning of the title, Koloss?
Koloss means "Colossus" in Swedish and we felt it was a perfect title since it's a pretty heavy and dense album. It sounds big.

How do you feel this record compares to obZen, musically?
I don't know; it's less thrash metal. obZen was focused on using all the stuff we'd been doing up until then, but with a new twist to it. This album has more identity and it's a lot more focused. It feels like a way more complete album and we worked more with arrangements this time around. Generally, it's a better album.

Looking back at Meshuggah's career, how would you say the band's sound has evolved over the years?
I wouldn't. I mean, it's not really for me to say. It's been a very natural development from our thrash roots into something that's more our thing. Naturally, the eight-string guitars made a huge impact on our sound when we started using them on Nothing.

Have you always wanted to be a technical band with your songwriting or is it something that comes naturally?
We never aimed to be technical; it's a by-product of the expression we are looking for. Technique is a tool, not a goal in itself.

How would you describe Meshuggah's sound? Would you consider the band to be more experimental or avant-garde metal rather than technical?
I don't know how to explain our sound; it's weird, I guess. But I definitely see us more as an experimental band than a technical one.

Because of the level of complexity with your songs, is it ever difficult to come up with new material?
Hmmm, I don't know. I just write for this band, basically, so I can't compare. It's not harder to get the ideas, but it might be harder to structure and arrange them.

Instrumentally, the guitar work on Koloss is exceptional, particularly on "The Demon's Name is Surveillance" and "Swarm." Do you feel pressure to live up to your previous work?
No, it's not a competition. To us, it's all about coming up with cool stuff. I never think along the lines of whether it's challenging enough or played to perfection or whatever. We aim to play our stuff as well as it needs to be played to work or else we just don't use it.

Where does the inspiration for your songwriting come from?
That's a difficult question and even though it's a very general answer, I'd like to think that life overall is our biggest inspiration. Everything that you get exposed to is somehow filtered and becomes part of what you do. But I feel that the biggest inspiration is the environment that we in the band have created for ourselves. To be able to pitch ideas within a group of reasonably like-minded people is awesome.

Meshuggah have been a staple in the metal community for a long time. How do you feel about being an influence on countless acts?
Good, I guess. Being an inspiration to someone probably means that we did at least something right along the way.

Read a review of Koloss here.