Our top 10 Meshuggah songs list presents ten of the best songs released by a Swedish extreme tech-metal ensemble famously known for its innovative musical style. Since 1987, Meshuggah has remained one of the most influential metal acts of all time. Meshuggah’s musical style amalgams extreme metal, progressive metal, avant-garde metal, and groove metal. However, Meshuggah’s rhythmic elegance gives the band its distinct sonic style.
Over three decades in the metal scene, Meshuggah has released songs that explore arcane and abstract themes. Despite some lineup changes, Meshuggah has been consistent over the years thanks to the all-time presence of lead vocalist Jens Kidman and lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. Jens Kidman also played the rhythm guitars from the band’s inception until Mårten Hagström joined the band in 1993.
In 1989, Tomas Haake took on the drumming role replacing original member Niklas Lundgren. Haake is also featured on the band’s spoken vocals. The drummer is best known for his technical ability and awe-inspiring polymeters, making him among the best modern drummers. After losing original bassist Peter Nordin, Meshuggah turned to Gustaf Hielm, who played with the band for about six years. Eventually, Meshuggah took in bassist Dick Lövgren in 2004. Since then, the band has had a stable lineup.
Meshuggah’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
The band’s inception in 1987 is credited to Meshuggah’s lead vocalist Jens Kidman. Two years later, Meshuggah released its eponymous debut EP. Meshuggah is a three-track EP that features all the band’s original members. Songs on the EP included “The Debt of Nature,” “Cadaverous Mastication,” and “Sovereigns Morbidity.”
Eventually, the band signed a recording contract with the massive metal record label Nuclear Blast in 1990. The record label has been home to other reputable artists, including Epica, Filter, Fear Factory, Hatebreed, In Flames, Lamb of God, Nightwish, Sabaton, Sepultura, and Slipknot. In the next year, Meshuggah released its debut LP, Contradictions Collapse.
Contradictions Collapse saw the band blend some progressive metal with thrash metal and alternative metal elements. Tomas Haake was featured for the first time on the drums. The drummer’s vocals can also be felt in the LP’s single “Choirs of Devastation.” Contradiction Collapse might not have been as alluring as later releases but remains the foundation at which Meshuggah built its music sonic vibes.
“Choirs of Devastation,” “Abnegating Cecity,” and “Paralyzing Ignorance” are some of the best Meshuggah songs from Contradiction Collapse. In 1994, Meshuggah returned with its second EP, None. None is a five-track EP featuring one new release and four reissues from Contradiction Collapse. The EP was still released under Nuclear Blast, featuring rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström for the first time.
Meshuggah’s big break came after the band issued its sophomore LP, Destroy Erase Improve. The LP was issued in May 1995, with most of the lyrics penned by Tomas Haake while Fredrik Thordendal composed the music. Destroy Erase Improve was lauded as the band’s definitive metal album that showcased Meshuggah’s quintessential sonic vibes.
The album peaked at number forty-three on the Swedish Albums Chart. Destroy Erase Improve also topped the Billboard Independent Albums chart, selling over thirty thousand album copies. “Future Breed Machine” is one of the best Meshuggah songs from Destroy Erase Improve.
Meshuggah’s Album Releases over the Years
After the successful release of its sophomore LP, Meshuggah later issued two EPs, Selfcaged and The True Human Design, still under Nuclear Blast Records. Later in 1998, Meshuggah released its third LP, Chaosphere. The album saw the band blend progressive metal, avant-garde metal, and groove metal vibes, resting its thrash metal sound. Chaosphere was the first and only LP to feature new bassist Gustaf Hielm. “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” is among the musical gems featured on the LP.
After four years of no releases, Meshuggah returned with their fourth LP, Nothing. Nothing catapulted the band to stardom and international fame. The album peaked at number one hundred and sixty-five on the Billboard 200. Nothing saw the band invest in new ideas with Thordendal and Hagström trying out the 8-string guitars. The album was also successful in Sweden after peaking at number forty-one on the Swedish Albums Chart.
Once more, Tomas Haake was the primary songwriter on the album, with only one song’s lyrics (“Nebulous”) penned by Hagström. “Rotational Gaze” is the best Meshuggah song from the album. In 2004, Meshuggah released a single-track EP I through Fractured Transmitter Recording Company. The EP featured the twenty-one-minute song “I.” “I” had its lyrics penned by Hagström, while its music was composed by Fredrik Thordendal and Tomas Haake.
Meshuggah later released its fifth LP, Catch Thirtythree, in 2005. The album helped establish Meshuggah as a reputable extreme metal act. Catch Thirtythree peaked at number twelve on the Swedish Albums Chart and one hundred and twenty-four on the French Albums Chart. On the Billboard 200, Catch Thirtythree managed to rise to number one hundred and seventy. Haake and Hagström are credited with having penned the lyrics to all the songs on the LP. “Shed” is one of the best Meshuggah songs from the LP.
In 2008, Meshuggah released one of its most reputable albums, obZen. The album marked Dick Lövgren’s first time on the band’s releases despite having joined the band in 2004. obZen charted in seven nations, rising to the fifty-ninth spot on the Billboard 200. Some of the best Meshuggah songs from obZen, include “Bleed” and “Dancers to a Discordant System.” The album saw Meshuggah bring its best extreme metal vibes blended with avant-garde metal and progressive metal elements.
Meshuggah presented to the world fifty-four minutes of groovy metal vibes with the 2012 LP Koloss. Koloss managed position twelve on the Billboard 200, charting in twelve other nations. Once more, Meshuggah stuck to its extreme metal sonic vibes with a touch of avant-garde and progressive metal. “I Am Colossus,” “Do Not Look Down,” and “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” are musical gems from Koloss.
Later in 2013, Meshuggah released its most recent EP, Pitch Black. The EP featured the hit “Pitch Black” and a live recording of the hit “Dancers to a Discordant System.” Pitch Black was issued through the in-house record label Scion AV. In 2016, the Swedish metal act released its eighth LP, The Violent Sleep of Reason. The Violent Sleep of Reason peaked at the seventeenth spot on the Billboard 200. This seems to be the last LP released under Nuclear Blast. “Born in Dissonance,” “Nostrum,” and “Clockworks” are some of the best Meshuggah songs from the album.
The extreme metal and progressive metal stars will be releasing their ninth LP, Immutable, on April 1, 2022. Immutable will be issued through Atomic Fire record label. Some of the songs from the album include “The Abysmal Eye” and “Light the Shortening Fuse.” Immutable already showcases its potential of becoming a magnificent successor to the band’s 2016 LP, The Violent Sleep of Reason.
Meshuggah’s Other Musical Pursuits
In its more than thirty-year-long career, Meshuggah has been involved in its musical pursuits alone. However, the band has gone on tour supporting other acts such as Machine Head, Clawfinger, Hypocrisy, and Slayer. The band has also taken part in the annual music festival Ozzfest, which was founded by Sharon Osbourne and the lead vocalist of Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne.
Meshuggah’s Accolades and Legacy
The Swedish metal stars don’t have much to show in terms of accolades won. However, Meshuggah remains one of the most influential Swedish extreme and progressive metal acts of all time. In 2012, Meshuggah won the Death Match Hall of Fame accolade by the Loudwire Music Awards. The Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards have noted Meshuggah’s impact on the metal scene awarding the band with the Best Underground Band and Inspiration accolades in 2005 and 2018, respectively.
The Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards has also nominated Meshuggah for the Best Live Band and Best International Band accolades in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Meshuggah also received has also received two nominations from the Revolver Music Awards in the album of the Year and Best International Band categories. One of the greatest recognition for the band is its nomination for the Best Metal Performance accolade in the 2018 Grammy Awards, credit to the hit “Clockworks.” However, Meshuggah lost the award to “Sultan’s Curse” by Mastodon.
Meshuggah’s star doesn’t seem to glow any dim. The band continues to bring back to life the metal genre with its transcendent releases infused with extreme, progressive, and avant-garde metal elements. Here we present the ten best Meshuggah songs of all time.
#10 – I Am Colossus
Ushering us to the top 10 Meshuggah songs list is the phenomenal hit “I Am Colossus.” The band’s drummer Tomas Haake penned this head-banging metal ballad. “I Am Colossus” is among the musical gems from the band’s 2012 seventh LP, Koloss.
The song’s lyrics find the singer defining both religion and God as an atrocious leviathan. Jens Kidman delivers some of his best deep vocals on this song. The song’s dark guitar riffs supplement his vocal delivery. Lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal delivers an awe-inspiring guitar solo as the song comes to an end.
#9 – Future Breed Machine
At the ninth spot of our ten best Meshuggah songs is the impressive hit “Future Breed Machine.” The song brings a unique fusion of progressive metal, avant-garde metal, and groove metal sonic elements. “Future Breed Machine” is among the best Meshuggah songs from Meshuggah’s sophomore LP, Destroy Erase Improve.
The hit is renowned for its amazing lyrics that showcase Haake’s lyrical prowess and Thordendal’s amazing music composition skills. “Future Breed Machine” finds the singer talking about the assimilation of ignorant humans, featuring themes of brainwashing. The song has been lauded by critics thanks to its powerful riffs and heavy polymorphs.
#8 – Rotational Gaze
Coming in at the eighth spot on our ten best Meshuggah songs is the stunning hit “Rotational Gaze.” The song is a lyrical gem penned by the band’s drummer Tomas Haake. “Rotational Gaze” is featured on the band’s 2002 LP Nothing.
The song finds Mårten Hagström delivering some of his best frenetic grooves on the rhythm guitars. Kidman’s raucous vocals on this song compare to those of Tom Araya of the thrash metal act Slayer. “Rotational Gaze” has been lauded for the use of metaphors giving the song a poetic touch.
#7 – Born in Dissonance
“Born in Dissonance” is a musical gem from Meshuggah’s LP, The Violent Sleep of Reason. The Violent Sleep of Reason marked Meshuggah’s eighth album release. Most of the songs from the LP were inspired by global issues, including the chaos in the Middle East in 2016. “Born in Dissonance” is among the lyrical gems penned by drummer Tomas Haake.
The song’s lyrics find the songwriter alluding to the governments’ control over the people. In an interview, the drummer and songwriter revealed that the song is quite metaphoric, having him literally point at something from space falling quickly towards the earth, causing its destruction.
#6 – Shed
Number six on our top 10 Meshuggah songs is the raging hit “Shed.” The song’s lyrics were a collaborative work by Tomas Haake and Mårten Hagström. While the song is three minutes forty-five seconds long, most of its sections are just instrumental. Its lyrics are just made of four statements.
“Shed” is one of the band’s heaviest and most vicious musical creations. The song is featured on Meshuggah’s fifth LP, Catch Thirtythree. Tom Haake revealed that the song’s lyrics are some of the band’s hardest to pinpoint. The drummer went ahead to reveal that the whole album Catch Thirtythree was experimental. “Shed,” as revealed by the lyricist, alludes to paradoxes.
#5 – Clockworks
Once again, we dig deeper into the songs released on Meshuggah’s LP, The Violent Sleep of Reason. The album is home to our number five best Meshuggah song, “Clockworks.” “Clockworks” is a lyrical gem penned by Tomas Haake.
The lyricist incorporated the metaphor about a clock, alluding to the inner working of one’s mind towards making positive change. “Clockworks” points toward looking into oneself as if your mind was a clock, where you can change anything until it makes perfect sense to your life.
#4 – Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave it Motion
“Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” is one of the best Meshuggah songs from the 2012 LP Koloss. The song’s lyrics were penned by Tomas Haake, with Mårten Hagström composing its music. “Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion” seems to malign and glorify revenge.
It recognizes revenge’s enormous seductive potency and its self-destructiveness. The song’s title pays homage to the words of the 17th Century cleric Jeremy Taylor. Jeremy Taylor has been anointed by many as the Shakespeare of Divines, credit to his poetic utterances.
#3 – New Millennium Cyanide Christ
Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström collaborated in composing the music for our third song on the list, “New Millennium Cyanide Christ.” The band’s drummer Tom Haake penned the song’s lyrics. “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” is one of the best Meshuggah songs from the 1998 LP Chaosphere.
The song is among Meshuggah’s releases with unusual and complex lyrics. Tom revealed that the song alludes to a dystopian perspective on extremism. The lyricist also noted that the song’s lyrics were inspired by how the multitude gets brainwashed by a person into a cult, thinking that he or she is the chosen savior.
#2 – Demiurge
“Demiurge” is yet another superb hit from Meshuggah’s album Koloss. While most of the songs by the band were penned by drummer Haake, “Demiurge” was Mårten Hagström’s chance to showcase his lyrical prowess. The rhythm guitarist also got to compose the music for this magical metal ballad.
“Demiurge” alludes to the Platonic artisan-like figure whose responsibility is maintaining the physical universe and fashion. One of the principles of Gnostics channeled through the song is that material things are evil, while spiritual non-material entities remain good.
Number one on our top 10 Meshuggah songs list is the outstanding hit “Bleed.” The song is a musical gem featured on Meshuggah’s sixth LP, obZen. Its lyrics were penned by drummer Tomas Haake, with the music composed by guitarist Fredrik Thordendal.
“Bleed” is among the best Meshuggah songs praised for their sonic feel, reminiscent of early thrash metal. The songwriter revealed that the song alludes to an aneurysm in your head that is taking your life. Complex drumming patterns and tons of metaphors on “Bleed” make it a unique song. The song has been sampled in “Crowdkiller” by Lame CRU.
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