MESHUGGAH
"Catch Thirty Three"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. Autonomy Lost
02. Imprint of the Un-Saved
03. Disenchantment
04. The Paradoxical Spiral
05. Re-Inanimate
06. Entrapment
07. Mind's Mirrors
08. In Death - Is Life
09. In Death - Is Death
10. Shed
11. Personae Non Gratae
12. Dehumanization
13. Sum

RATING: 8.5/10

Without repeating the MESHUGGAH praise you've read a thousand times before, I'll simply point out that the importance of this band is without bound. The problem with what has been written about MESHUGGAH since the release of "Nothing" lies in the opinions of what this band is supposed to be about, and what I believe to be a knock on the group for its rise in popularity. On the first point, MESHUGGAH is no less creative or relevant because "Nothing" is not "Destroy Erase Improve" or "Chaosphere". Following up a critically acclaimed back catalog is a no-win proposition. The fact that I found "Nothing" to be an unexciting and monotonous album does not mean that I respected the band any less. Art is in the eye of the beholder. With regard to the "sellout" questions, I don't give a damn how many albums "Nothing" may have sold or that the band performed at Ozzfest. It's ridiculous to assume that "Nothing" was an attempt at commercial viability. The point is that MESHUGGAH is gonna do what MESHUGGAH is gonna do because they've got an artistic vision, regardless of how disagreeable it may be to those in critical and fan circles.

But on to "Catchy Thirty Three". I find the album to be a great deal more enjoyable than "Nothing", but not because it's a return to the MESHUGGAH days of old. Many will argue that it's still a difficult listen with lots of repetition, in part due to the common thread that connects all the tracks. I, for one, don't find it to be a boring album. One song essentially divided up into 13 tracks (following the single 21-minute track on "I") may not get the adrenaline pumping every step of the way, yet I'm hooked. Much of my intrigue has to do with the creation of atmosphere using subtlety and nuance, and an immeasurable skill in understanding what notes to play and when. It takes some doing for me to be engrossed in a 47-minute album that really only works when absorbed in its entirety, but "Catch Thirty Three" got into the bloodstream.

The down-tuned bounce of the guitars and strange rhythms are still present, as are the fits of MESHUGGAH rage. The album's richness is in its flow, the pacing, and the manner in which the band creates mental images that are always dark and often nightmarish. Sometimes it's a couple of naked notes plucked on a string, like faint flashes of light in pitch blackness; other times it's the way a discordant lead ensures that any attempts at serenity are defeated. My point about listening to "Catch Thirty Three" in its entirety still stands, but I must say that tracks six through ten ("Entrapment", "Mind's Mirrors", "In Death – Is Life", "In Death – Is Death", "Shed") are exceptionally well done. Unexpected vocal changeups, sections of near silence, pockets of hateful noise, horrific effects, blasts of sonic atrocity, it's all so immense and mentally disfiguring.

If you find that "Catch Thirty Three" doesn't define "head trip," then you need a new desk reference set. Will I always be in the mood to listen to an album like this one? Of course not. Do I think the "Catch Thirty Three" experiment is a success? Most certainly.

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