1980 - 1980
Instrumental Progressive Metal, Jazz Fusion
7 songs (35:31)
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Mixing Meshuggah’s brand of technical groove and the spacey dynamics of Jazz fusion is such a great idea that you have to wonder why no-one thought of it before. France’s 1980 lean more towards the Fusion than the ‘Shuggah, tending to incorporate the groove into the Jazz rather than the other way around. Despite that it’s a surprisingly heavy listen at times, the bludgeoning moments creeping up on you more than you’d expect. It’d be easy to imagine that this is a Meshuggah side-project, actually, the groove being such an integral part of the band’s sound. Other notable influences are Cynic, the spacey guitar sounds of the title track amongst others having roots with the Floridians, and Post-Rock, especially on the finale, the five-minute-song-with-five-minutes-of-silence Il Se Fait Tard Mon Ami, Il Faut Rentrer.

As a long-term Meshuggahner, I find that some of the polyrhythmic riffs that the band go into are a little too similar to classic Meshuggah songs. It might just be my personal problem, but I’m too used to the way that the Swedes lock into a groove and single-mindedly pummel it. Listen to Perpetual Black Second from 2002’s Nothing, and compare it to Sagaie from 1980. Where Meshuggah put their heads down and almost perfectly replicate the intense sound of a piece of coldly insane machinery chewing you up feet first, 1980’s effort starts out well before introducing a rather annoying keyboard sound, a xylophone, and then goes on to meander. It might be good from the Fusion point of view, but it lacks the mechanical Meshuggahness and sounds rather chaotic instead, and whilst on one level it works, on another it serves only to remind just what heights a stripped-down version of the sound can achieve. It depends on how faithful you want 1980 to be, I suppose; since the riffs remind me so much of the influence I’d prefer it to be a more faithful rendition. Still, the Tooly melodies of O Me Ho work well, as does the rest of the track, and the ‘Shuggah rhythm section of Meshuggahreich is great with the Jazzy noodlings over the top.

My main problem with 1980 is the lack of vocals, to be honest. I’ve always felt that these sort of instrumentals should be seen and not heard, since they are all about the technical skill of the musicians. Vocals could have taken the promising music and channelled it into an epic piece, something much better than the obscure curio the album currently is, available only through Season Of Mist’s online store (there’s a link on the band’s MySpace, below). As it is, I’ll get it out every so often for a listen but there’s little reason for it to be a regular part of my playlist, as impressive as some moments are. It’ll be interesting to see what the band comes up with next, that’s for sure.

Killing Songs :
O Me Ho, Meshuggahreich, Amicalement Votre
Goat quoted 71 / 100
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:05 am
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