Yeah, I didn't quite believe it either. Though they released the full-length Koloss less than a year ago, Meshuggah seem to think that's too long for fans to wait for new material. Colour me surprised when they released the new (free!) EP Pitch Black late last month through Scion A/V (the second release to come out of their pairing following the "I Am Colossus" single last year).
The first song on the two-track EP is the titular "Pitch Black". It was originally an unused idea recorded in 2003 (post-Nothing, but prior to I), yet it still holds up remarkably well in comparison to their releases since. It's aggressive and quite intriguing to listen to--there are a stunning large number of different melodies competing for scant space in its 6-minute span. Though it never made it onto an album proper, it actually sounds like the band reused ideas from this track elsewhere: the bouncy 6/8 rhythmic work, unrelenting fade-out, and lighter vocals in particular are all reminiscent of the track "Dancers to a Discordant System". Heck, even the aesthetic of the softer guitar solo sounds like the solo on that track. But keep in mind, these are all nitpicks, not legitimate complaints against the quality of the song--and rest assured, it is boss.
However, the similarities do make the selection for the second track much more fitting, which is...a live version of "Dancers to a Discordant System". This song, the epic, 10-minute closer to 2008's obZen, is one of the finest individual songs of Meshuggah's career. Though the polyrhythms are a bit simpler and less intense than on some of their crazier tracks (e.g. "Swarm" or, especially, "Bleed"), the added power that comes from feeling each and every rhythmic strike as it hits you is damn impressive. Unfortunately, the live version loses a bit of the finer details of the studio version, such as the overlying melodic guitar lines and, notably, Haake's distinctive vocals (which have been replaced with Kidman's straight-up growling). But these are necessary cutbacks to performing the song in a live setting, and they don't hinder the experience of the song significantly at all. It's still every ounce as pulverizing as it was in the studio.
I'm not sure what kind of deal Scion A/V has going with Meshuggah, but a second release from the pairing makes me think we could see more excellent free Meshuggah releases in the future. And if Pitch Black is any indication, they're going to be awesome.
Oh, and don't forget to download Pitch Black over at Scion A/V.
*Reviewers disclaimer – This is the most Meshuggah I have ever heard, so here you get two viewpoints – a fan perspective and, well, mine. Sweden’s Meshuggah (literally meaning “crazy” ...
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