Swedish extreme metal masters Meshuggah return with their ninth album Immutable, their first since 2016’s The Violent Sleep Of Reason. Having pioneered so many varying extremes in their career it becomes more and more difficult to describe the band than anything more than the embodiment of everything that is extreme metal.
The dual guitars of Fredrik Thordendal and Marten Hagstrom, Dick Lovgren’s large bass lines, the unmistakable vocals of Jens Kidman and the human drum machine Tomas Haake backing the entire band; they are nothing if not masters of their respective crafts.
Opener “Broken Cog” has some of my favorite atmospheric elements from Destroy Erase Improve with the slowly spoken sections building towards something larger in scale, the guitars conjure what feels like a swirling maelstrom of riffs, a well that they return to early and often throughout Immutable, especially on later track “The Faultless” with the entire package feeling a bit more like a return to a well they haven’t drawn from since ObZen.
The transition from the former track to “The Abysmal Eye” is a stark one, riffs begin to wash over the listener while Haake pounds the skins, Kidman shreds vocal cords, and the axe men flatten you, making for a well-oiled machine of extreme. “Kaleidoscope” fits a similar mold one that seems to take the band back to their more prominent ‘90s output drawing in even more of the Chaosphere sound than they have used since.
“Ligature Marks” is a slow starter that is gradually given life by the drums and riffs, especially the bass that is sprinkled throughout and amongst Kidman’s throaty vocals. This is the kind of track that showcases that Meshuggah don’t need to be too over the top to be successful with, the specific type of song that they have perfected over the course of their career, one that is purely unto itself in the best way possible.
Followed up by absolute barn burner “God He Sees In Mirrors,” you can hear the dichotomy in Meshuggah’s ability to write in both styles and nary skip a beat in terms of the massive songwriting ability that this hive mind possesses. They throw the kitchen sink at you without a moment’s notice around the halfway point and then transition back into the chunky rhythm that buoyed the song throughout. This is precisely the kind of output you want from Meshuggah in 2022.
The first of the three instrumental tracks is the longest on the album in the form of “They Move Below,” nearly 10 minutes of this powerhouse flexing their muscles, effusing their signature sound in longform in a way they haven’t touched since Nothing’s “Obsidian” from nearly 20 years ago.
The entirety of this album feels very on brand for Meshuggah. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel to get their point across, and frankly they invented this wheel a long time ago. Immutable is a masterclass in knowing your sound across 30 plus years, knowing exactly what buttons to push and when, all to superb effect. Immutable is among the band’s very best and one of the finest examples of extreme metal in 2022.
(released April 1, 2022 on Atomic Fire Records)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch Meshuggah – “The Abysmal Eye” Video