Recorded at Sweetspot Studios in Halmstad, Sweden. Mixed by Rickard Bengtsson and Staffan Karlsson and mastered by multiple Grammy Award winner Vlado Meller. Cover artwork by Luminokaya. Released on Friday 1 April 2022 on Atomic Fire Records.
/ɪˈmjuːtəb(ə)l/ (adjective) unchanging over time or unable to be changed.
That’s the thing about Swedish progressive/extreme/avant-garde/djent metal band Meshuggah: with each album, you know what you’re going to get. Meshuggah, the pioneers of the so-called djent metal subgenre, characterised by complex, polymetered and polyrhythmic song structures and barking, gruff vocals that add as much to the texture of each song as the downtuned, 8- or 9-string guitars and Tomas Haake’s precision percussion.
As reported by Blabbermouth
“The title fits perfectly for where we are as a band,” Mårten concludes. “We’re older now. Most of us are in our fifties now, and we’ve settled into who we are. Even though we’ve been experimenting all along, I also think we’ve been the same since day one. The way we approach things and why we still make new albums, and why we still sound the way we do, it’s immutable. Humanity is immutable, too. We commit the same mistakes over and over. And we are immutable. We do what we do, and we don’t change.”Blabbermouth—Meshuggah announces new album, ‘Immutable’ (14 Janaury 2022)
Meshuggah may be immutable, but to say that they are predictable would be misleading, for the last 30 years Meshuggah have been one of the most creative and progressive metal bands around pushing the boundaries of heavy music. I was first introduced to Meshuggah with their 2004 EP I (that’s an uppercase letter ‘i’), a 21-minute epic piece of twisted brutality. From that moment I was hooked. obZen (2008) and Koloss (2012) are my usual go-to albums when I want to listen to Meshuggah.
Their ninth full-length album Immutable feels like the perfect album for 2022, with the world in so much chaos—two years of Covid-19, financial and energy crises, Russian invading Ukraine, 12 years of chaos and a steady shift towards hard right and nationalist policies in many countries, including the UK. There is a reflective and almost poignant quality to many of the songs, such as the quiet, pondrous introduction to “They move below” (track 7) and the meditative final track “Past tense” (track 13). But it’s more than that, it’s infused into the musical language throughout the album.
But don’t worry, the brutality is still there in huge lumps of granite-breaking riffs, twisting and turning, changing direction, switching time signatures with the most glorious guitar tones. The production on this release is crystal clear.
This album has everything that I’d want from a Meshuggah album, and everything that I need from an album in 2022, to help me navigate the dysfunction and mess.
I didn’t fully connect with Meshuggah’s last release, The Violent Sleep of Reason (2016), at least not for a long time and I’m thankful for persisting—as with all their albums, I encounter something new with every listen. But Immutable spoke to me almost immediately. Which is extraordinary for such a long album—clocking up at 13 tracks over 66 minutes and 48 seconds. You wouldn’t fit that on one side of a C90 cassette back in the day!
I’ll be listening to this a lot this year, I can already tell.
Review score: 95%