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Every Meshuggah Album Ranked Worst to Best

There are very few bands who make me want to dance one moment and then headbutt a cactus the next. Sweden’s Meshuggah is one of them. Although they hail from one of the happiest countries in the world, they don’t really sound like it. However, it sure does fill me with joy to listen to them. Now, let’s rank the albums and leave the “ladies and djentlemen” jokes at home.

9. Contradictions Collapse (1991)

In 1991, Metallica released their behemoth self-titled classic (often colloquially referred to as The Black Album), which would become their best-selling. A little-known fact is that they also issued a collaboration with Pantera called “Contradictions Collapse by Meshuggah.” By no means is this a bad album, but you don’t listen to Meshuggah for mediocre thrash. On the bright side, a Swedish band got me to look up English words, so now I know what abnegating cecity is.

Play it again: “Ride the Lightning” by Metallica
Skip it: This album, and go listen to Meshuggah instead

8. The Violent Sleep of Reason (2016)

Finally, we can now start to split Fredrik Thordendal’s hairs and scrutinize the rest of this revolutionary band’s discography. For the shitload of Meshuggah copycats out there, “The Violent Sleep of Reason” would hands down be their best album. In fact, “Clockworks” earned a Grammy nomination. However, by my admittedly high standards for the rest of Meshuggah’s work, it is a slight step down (like many of their guitar tunings.) This album does boast their best cover, and I would somehow like to listen to it if it were at all possible by the laws of physics.

Play it again: “MonstroCity”
Skip it: “By the Ton”

7. Destroy Erase Improve (1995)

They followed this album title’s advice to a T. They Destroyed their generic sound, Erased their lack of innovation, and Improved to become leaders instead of followers. Meshuggah, which means “crazy” in Yiddish, began to make sense as their band name here.

Play it again: “Future Breed Machine”, “Inside What’s Within Behind”
Skip it: “Soul Burn,” “Acrid Placidity”



6. Catch Thirty Three (2005)

The word “cohesive” comes to mind when it comes to this record. It’s a bit of an oddball – even by their specifications – but they make 0-0-0-0-0-0-0 actually sound interesting. This album is the one they would most likely play over the loudspeakers at Ikea, but what do I know? I barely have anything most people would call “furniture.”

Play it again: “In Death – Is Life”, “In Death – Is Death”
Skip it: “The Paradoxical Spiral”



5. Chaosphere (1998)

This album took everything “Destroy Erase Improve” did right and kept it going. They finally sounded like they got their own instruments and gave their hand-me-downs to another struggling Swedish metal band. “Chaosphere” is so good that it almost got me to look up the difference between a polyrhythm and a polymeter.

Play it again: “Concatenation”, “New Millennium Cyanide Christ”
Skip it: “Elastic”



4. Immutable (2022)

After more than 30 years since their debut album, Meshuggah shows here that they haven’t lost a step – literally. Drummer Tomas Haake continues to do shit with his feet that only animals with more than two legs can dream of. Although the band is known for the high number of strings on their guitars, Haake’s gotta have at least 8 bass drums down there based on how much sound he generates. After “The Violent Sleep of Reason” hinted at a possible drop in quality in the future, “Immutable” put those doubts to bed.

Play it again: “The Abysmal Eye”, “They Move Below”
Skip it: “Black Cathedral”

3. obZen (2008)

For many Meshuggah fans, obZen is the group’s magnum opus – and for good reason. It’s smooth, funky, catastrophic, and enigmatic – sometimes all at once. Fellow Swedes ABBA have their warm, charming anthem “Dancing Queen.” Meshuggah is no different with their tender ballad “Bleed.” It may sound like a scary song, but it is actually a heartwarming tale about people living in developed countries where they can suffer brain hemorrhaging without having to worry about going bankrupt.

Play it again: “Bleed,” “Combustion,” “Lethargica”
Skip it: “Electric Red,” “The Spiteful Snake”

2. Nothing (2002)

It’s ironic that this album’s title is “Nothing” when it was everything and more for them (I want to apologize for the opening line, I went to night school for Album Ranking and this sort of wordplay is the first thing they teach). It shares many qualities with obZen, both in sound and clout. The band demonstrated how they were ahead of the game in 2002 by pointing out that even shadows can be organic. When it comes to shadows, always buy organic! Non-organic shadows are definitely not as healthy for you.

Play it again: “Rational Gaze,” “Spasm”
Skip it: Check the album name for a hint

1. Koloss (2012)

Fans of their earlier material may not be thrilled with this choice. Come to think of it, fans of their middle period or even their latest efforts probably won’t like this choice. However, they are wrong. I have always wanted to hear what two galaxies colliding sounds like, and “Behind the Sun” gives me the opportunity to do just that. From the beginning, they were flexing on us, explaining to us rookies that “Koloss” and “Colossus” mean the same thing. However, I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Swedish band named in Yiddish screaming in English about a Greek wonder.

Play it again: “Demiurge” and “Behind the Sun”
Skip it: See the “Skip It” section for the previous album