Innovative musicianship, distinct style and a prolific 16-year career have made Meshuggah one of the most influential bands in modern metal. Though not known for accessibility, the respect their creativity commands has gained them high profile tour spots ranging from co-headlining Ozzfest to opening for Tool. They were also recently named the "most important band in metal" by a panel of their peers in Alternative Press. But their latest, Catch 33, might be their most challenging achievement to date: a methodical, 47-minute epic. The single work, masquerading as a 13-track album, features distinct but intricately related pieces that form what guitarist Mårten Hagström characterises as the bigger picture.
"The whole idea was to create a musical landscape, or the Meshuggah soundtrack. In order for this album to make any real sense, [you have to] think of it as a movie. It goes through certain movements."
The inspiration for the mammoth scale of Catch 33 predated 2004's I (a single, 20-minute song) but had, until now, remained merely a lofty ambition due to the seemingly time-consuming nature of such a project. "We actually had this idea years ago but just let it go because we felt that it would be such a big project to go into the studio and do. It's been kind of a weird process, [but] this is an important album to us because it made us realise that this is something we can pull off."
A long-form approach to composition has always been an integral aspect of Meshuggah's continuous self-reinvention. Though committed to uncovering the possibilities of manipulating time and tension, Hagström feels their evolution has been building towards this type of project from the outset. "So many people seem to be thinking of us in technical terms, like math metal, and [that] we're musically driven instrumentalists. That's cool, but that has nothing to do with what we're doing."