Published Mar 28, 2012Swedish extreme metal masters Meshuggah are back with their seventh full-length, Koloss, the highly anticipated follow-up to their stellar 2008 album, obZen. In a recent Exclaim! interview, guitarist Mårten Hagström discussed the musical direction of the new record, how it compares to obZen and the lack of pressure he feels for living up to Meshuggah's previous material, which has gone on to be an influence to countless metal bands.
Meaning "colossus" in Swedish, Koloss is the perfect title for the record, Hagström explains, "since it's a pretty heavy and dense album. It sounds big." But while the sound on the record is still classic Meshuggah, Koloss takes a much slower, groove-based approach than the band's previous releases.
"We wanted to focus more on the groove aspect and hopefully achieve a more organic and slightly warmer tone than previously," Hagström says. "Apart from that, we really just did what we always try to do, which is to come up with some stuff that is interesting to us."
In comparison to obZen, he says that the result is a better album.
"It's less thrash metal. obZen was focused on using all the stuff we've 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."
Koloss also captures Meshuggah's trademark mix of heavy, extreme metal intensity and more melodic, progressive styles. The guitar work is particularly exceptional on standout tracks "The Demon's Name Is Surveillance" and "Swarm," but Hagström explains that he doesn't feel any pressure to live up to the complex material on the band's previous albums.
"It's not a competition," he says. "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."
While Meshuggah have been a staple in the metal community for years, Hagström is humbled by the fact that they're an influence to many bands within various spectrums of the metal genre. Their experimental, tech-metal iconic sound -- featuring a heavy, chugging guitar rhythm -- has been adopted by countless groups and is now one of the most widely used styles in modern metal.
"Being an inspiration to someone probably means that we did at least something right along the way," he says.
Koloss is out now via Nuclear Blast.