For the past 35 years, Meshuggah has set their place in metal history as a groundbreaking, trailblazing band that has continually set the bar higher for technicality and creativity. Their brand of metal expands beyond sonic barriers to the point that no one subgenre of metal can fully define them, and since the release of ObZen in 2008 they have been hailed as a major influence, if not the primary creators of djent, an accolade they’ve had mixed feelings about over the years. When we last heard from them they had been nominated for a Grammy for their song “Clockworks” in 2016, then announced a few years later that a follow-up to The Violent Sleep of Reason was on the way. Now in 2022 the time has come for Meshuggah’s return, and Immutable is here for ears to hear and brains to try to comprehend.
Not trying to go too hard out the gate, Meshuggah open the album up with a winding, pounding slog on “Broken Cog”. “The Abysmal Eye” turns up the dial and gives us a fresh dose of the Meshuggah we know, as does the twists and turns of “Light The Shortening Fuse”. Next is “Phantoms”, another math-riff clusterfuck, and the molasses-thick piledriver “Ligature Marks”; “God He Sees In Mirrors” is loosely a hybrid of the two. Because it wouldn’t be a Meshuggah album with at least one long track, we get the 9-and-a-half-minute instrumental “They Move Below” that starts off like the wet dream of every guitarist who owns a loop pedal and graduates into a heavy, proggy maze.
“Kaleidoscope” doubles down on the chunkiness, leading into the short guitar interlude of “Black Cathedral” and into “I Am That Thirst”, a track so clearly unique to its purveyors that you couldn’t possibly attribute it to anyone else by accident. Next is the deathcore-esque “The Faultless” and the downtuned abyss of “Armies of the Preposterous”; finally the distortionless, drumless instrumental “Past Tense” rounds things out. A ripper like “Armies” would be a great track to end on, but going out on a clean, relaxed (by Meshuggah standards) number like this works just as well to ease listeners out of the chaos they just experienced.
Having sonically advanced this much throughout their career, there’s no reason to suggest Meshuggah would decline now or decide to take it easier. This is a band still in prime shape and willing to take their craft to new places, a band that until a new act comes along and eclipses them in terms of innovation and brute force will continue to endure as one of the most significant and supreme bands metal has to offer. When the sequel to Immutable will arrive and what surprises will await us is anyone’s guess. Based off of what Meshuggah have brought to the table on Immutable however, there’s three things you can solidly expect with their next album: Expect the unexpected, expect the best, and expect nothing less.