Meshuggah - Destroy Erase Improve
Nuclear Blast
Industrial Death/Thrash, Progressive Metal
10 songs (46:31)
Release year: 1995
Meshuggah, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Although their debut album, 1991’s Contradictions Collapse, was a fine piece of Technical Thrash that still sounds great today, it would be on their follow-up, 1995’s Destroy Erase Improve, that Meshuggah became the truly amazing band that they are. They’ve never released two albums the same, but the leap here was staggering, moving beyond slightly clunky Thrash and towards a tight, mechanical groove that absolutely crushed everything in the Metal scene when it was released in 1995. Describing this music to those who haven’t heard it is difficult, but the machinelike nature of the band’s sound cannot be overstated – very few bands have the ability to so perfectly synchronise their instruments into such an annihilating wholeness, but such is Meshuggah’s compositional and instrumental skill that the various out-there time signatures come together in a compelling and headbangable groove that more than a few inferior bands have failed miserably to copy.

Ostensibly repetitive Hardcore-infused Death/Thrash, the most common whine from those that don’t ‘get’ it is that Meshuggah sound like Nu-Metal; such is the world we live in, where dropping your guitar tuning is enough to get Korn comparisons. Meshuggah sound absolutely nothing like Korn, and those who persist in making such claims really don’t know the first thing about what they’re hearing. Time signatures, boys and girls; if you don’t know what they are get yourself over to Wikipedia and read up on them. Guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström are excellent, bending riffs and incorporating stunning moments of Jazz fusion that serve as oases of calm beauty in the futuristic hailstone that surrounds them – the laid-back Acrid Placidity especially – but it’s drummer extraordinaire Tomas Haake who is the most impressive part of proceedings. Insanely precise and capable of playing two different beats at once, focusing on his drumming and letting the rest of the music swivel around that is probably the best way of listening to the band – as opposed to what most people do, focusing on the vocalist. Here, Jens Kidman is just another instrument in another time signature, the small human element melding with the inhuman machine.

You wouldn’t think that all this cold precision would result in a collection of songs as much as a single experience stretched across an album, but the cuts from Destroy Erase Improve do work as pieces in their own right. The mechanical samples on pounding opener Future Breed Machine are a genius touch, doing more to attain a futuristic atmosphere with a few bleeps than anything Fear Factory managed, and the fact that the pummelling riffs and powerful breakdown themselves are insanely catchy doesn’t hurt the song at all. Of course, the second most common whine about this album is that it’s all downhill after that killer opening, but given time and space there’s much to like about the other tracks too. Beneath’s urgent riffs, hurtling down into a black hole that hints at the future voids of Nothing, Soulburn recalls the band’s Thrashier work, building up into one of the weirdest solos that you’ll ever hear, whilst the spoken word sections of Inside What’s Within Behind give the song a strange psychedelic quality that stays with you even after amazing bursts of intensity like Suffer In Truth.

Destroy Erase Improve isn’t my favourite Meshuggah album, but it’s their classic. Where Chaosphere pushed their heaviness and Nothing their hypnotic groove, this album was their least organic. It hasn’t aged at all – even today it’s a cold, inhuman ordeal much like being chased across a post-apocalyptic landscape by killer machines, brief moments of warmth the memories of the perfect world before – Meshuggah themselves haven’t replicated the nightmarish factory atmosphere contained here, which might just be a good thing. In terms of Metal history this album is often overlooked amidst the mid-90s wastelands, but a classic it is, a true reminder that the Metal leftfield contains as many gems as more typical realms, pointing the way towards the technical world of the 00s and proving that there’s more to Sweden than Melodeath in one fell blow.

Killing Songs :
Album as a whole – not a weak moment anywhere
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Meshuggah that we have reviewed:
Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Meshuggah - Koloss reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Meshuggah - Alive CD/DVD reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse & None reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Meshuggah - obZen reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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