Where was Meshuggah to go with their next release? They could have pushed past _Chaosphere_ for more dizzying speed, yes. Instead, _Nothing_ is an album of more subtle complexity. Shedding much of the speed from previous albums, Meshuggah deepens their exploration of rhythmic complexity with an album that is slower, heavier, and vaster than anything they have done before.
I believe this explains why many fans are unimpressed with _Nothing_. Sonically, it is heavier -- Meshuggah has 8-string guitars custom designed for use on this recording. Turn the music up loud enough and that low-end will probably start to shuffle your organs around your chest cavity. That is about the only overt element of _Nothing_. More than any previous album, this album takes a very discerning ear to appreciate it's bleak, terrible brilliance. Other than heaviness, the only obvious quality of this album is that nothing is obvious -- the surface is a morass of liquifying giga-riffs and harsh monotone shouts. But somewhere beyond are abstract rhythmic constructions that articulate a musical landscape devoid of melody, a voracious entropy intimating the complete deterioration of convention. And if you listen closely -- REALLY closely, I mean -- you may become lost in the abstruse, mysterious complexity of this album. You won't hear comparable rhythmic intricacy anywhere else but the most experimental avant-jazz, I think. Yet, the depth of Meshuggah's rhythmic work here is so subtle most people won't ever hear it.
As is consistent with the image on the cover art, _Nothing_ is a wrenching mental expansion. It's not much good as background music -- this stuff needs to be focused on and explored. Sure, it can be fatiguing (or even painful -- look at the poor guy on the cover!), but therein lies its value. Rarely is music so stimulating.
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