Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason (Album Review)

Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason (Album Review)


Living in the modern world can leave conscious humans feeling isolated, frustrated, and anxious. With a plethora of violence plaguing society, and only getting worse everyday, the dissociative need to be consumed by social media has left many looking for something real. Sweden’s Meshuggah offer their own insight on a handful of these issues, with a hopes of one day eradicating these tragic realities. For generalization purposes, Meshuggah can be categorized as an Extreme Metal band, but they possess hints of Progressive, Technical, Death, and Thrash Metal, and have been in a class of their own since their 1991 debut album, Contradictions Collapse. That said, it was 1995’s Destroy Erase Improve that assisted in kickstarting their one-of-a-kind journey as innovators in Metal. Now in 2017, Jens Kidman (vocals), Fredrik Thordendal (guitar), Mårten Hagström (guitar), Tomas Haake (drums), and Dick Lövgren (bass) continue to captivate listeners as they push themselves even further with experimentation on their eighth studio album, The Violent Sleep of Reason. Released on October 7th via longtime Nuclear Blast Records, their latest work comes four years after 2012’s Koloss, and this time they team up with Danish Producer Tue Madsen to put together the ten tracks.

Inspired by the painting from the Spanish Artist Francisco Goya, entitled The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, with the destruction that continues to happen around the world, Meshuggah intellectually selected their writing as this album depicting subjects such as terrorism, extremists, and how many have fallen “asleep” from reality. Featuring artwork created by Keerych Luminokaya, who had created imagery for Meshuggah’s previous albums such as Koloss as well as the 2014 live album The Ophidian Trek, this time, the cover showcases an unconscious body that appears to be asleep for an extended period while a indescribable force has taken over. Recorded live, for the purpose of capturing the original feeling of each song, Meshuggah left no stone unturned in the creation of the album.

Opening up with “Clockworks,” it is a vast and powerful introduction about looking inside one’s self. Spiraling in a thought process of wanting to change the way an individual sees themselves, their minds circles in a clockwork direction. The longest song of the album, it holds a harsh and vibrant sound including a handful of intensified riffs as the lyrics screams the message. Kicking off the main theme of the The Violent Sleep of Reason, “Born In Dissonance” exemplifies the apocalypse and hardly cools down as a heavy riff explodes while the melody moves, showcasing that the gods offer no mercy to their believers. The brutal vocals scream out this theme with lyrics such as “Baptized in the river you call time. We know that we are sacred. In human tongue we’re apocalypse. For we bring with us obliteration.”

Continuing on the topic of religion, they introduce the fictional city “MonstroCity,” which is filled with false prophecies, hopesm and ideas as the words describe “Welcome all to MonstroCity where norm is that of the insane. All is illusion in MonstroCity. Bow to it, it knows your name.” Melodically, the song continues to hold a blistering sound as there is no room for pity, nor remorse. Then comes one of the most vengeful songs, “By The Ton,” where the lyrics persist with bitter honesty and false ideologies; “You think that you’ve seen the truth, you think you know. Yet disbelief grinds, the doubt it claws. In your sleepless delirium, I devour your thoughts.”

Slowing down slightly, title-track “Violent Sleep of Reason” defines the realities that are happening in current tragic events occurring around the globe. As terrorism formulates based on personal faith, it continues to destruct innocent lives, and Meshuggah responds to this madness with lyrics such as “All will imply it’s an illusion, a fallacy. So when you die, remember we said it’s not reality.” Holding a more Sludge-vibed introduction, “Ivory Tower” has a demonical grunt that soon follows with an echoing guitar riff that sets the Doom-like speed.

Focusing more on political power, “Stifled” comes in, enforcing the subject that individuals hold too much power for the wrong reasons. The lyrics explains this with, “Your time has come. Declare the majesty fallen. Your dominance, your hateful influence forever stifled.” As the song progresses, there is a soft electronic ending creating the sensation that the evil reign has reached a demise of such power. Moving back to the subject of religion is “Nostrum,” from the viewpoint of the drug-like state believers can enter. Kicking off with a Thrash style, “Our Rage Won’t Die” is aggressive, reflecting the emotion of one is fighting back in seek of their own justice and revenge. The words themselves confess this with “You will surely pay the ultimate price. There is no way you will escape our retribution. It will not matter how long it takes. You took them from us so we will take you.” Finally, the album concludes with “Into Decay,” a track based on modern society and technologies that dissociated people from the real world and real human connection.

Out of Meshuggah’s catalog, The Violent Sleep of Reason is perhaps the most technical, refined, and intelligent to date. Look back and listen to it a few times, it will undoubtedly provoke one to think about society diminishing somewhere between ancient books, cell phones, and a world of hatred thanks to disassociation. A well-crafted album that includes creative enhancements to emphasize sensitive subject matter, CrypticRock gives The Violent Sleep of Reason a 5 out of 5 stars.


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Zenae Zukowski
[email protected]

Zenae has been working in the Entertainment industry since she graduated The School of Visual Arts in 2006 with a BFA in Film. Managing to keep herself busy and glued to the city that never sleeps in NYC with the multiple media facets such as Advertising, Film, Broadcast, and Music, the scene has led her to be a well-rounded content creator focusing in writing, photography, and post production. Taking the industry a step further as a travel enthusiast, she would one day love to afford to fly out to several Music and Film festivals. When she is not working or at a Metal show, she spends her free time with her fur-babies.


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