It's been three years since Sweden's Meshuggah released Chaosphere, a landmark metal album that combined huge Pantera-ish fan-friendly grooves with confusing prog rock song structures and aggressive vocals. But in the intervening years, following a North American tour with Slayer and the release of guitarist Fredrik Thordendal's bizarre solo album, Sol Niger Within, the band has been largely in hiding. Now they've emerged to break their silence, not with the anticipated follow-up to Chaosphere, but instead with rarities collection Rare Trax, and a high-profile North American tour with dark math acid heavyweights Tool.
"The main reason we released Rare Trax now was to get something out quick," comments guitarist Marten Hagstrom. "It's been a long time. When we came back from touring for Chaosphere, we wanted to go back into the studio and do a regular full-length, but both us and Nuclear Blast thought that it would take us a while to regroup and really start working on some new material. Rare Trax seemed to be a good idea to get something out a bit quicker."
But Rare Trax didn't come out as quickly as the band had hoped. "Instead of us working five or six weeks to get the stuff together and get it out, it kept dragging out and took about six months to get everything together. That was a gross miscalculation on our part," laughs Hagstrom. Rare Trax collects unreleased songs from the Chaosphere sessions, remixes and the band's 1989 debut EP.
"It's obviously not an album to pick up new fans," says Hagstrom. "It's for those already into our music. It's pretty cool because it's a map of an evolution of our style of music. Also, there's some stuff that's never been deemed fit for our regular CDs, so it's a way to show what weird stuff we've been doing. We're really happy with how it turned out."
Fans are still frothing at the mouth for brand new material though, and although the fear of a wait between studio releases that rivals the re-Tool-ing of their current tour-mates hangs in the air, Hagstrom remains optimistic it won't be that bad. "We bought a studio with another Swedish band, Clawfinger. So what's going to happen is after these three weeks with Tool, we're going to go back home, and the minute we get home we're going to start writing new material, and perhaps record a couple of demos. Hopefully we'll finish the album next spring or summer."