Destroy Erase Improve (Reloaded)
posted on 9/2008 By:
One of many classic Nuclear Blast releases to receive the “Reloaded” treatment, Meshuggah’s landmark sophomore effort is easily the best and most historically important of the bunch. More direct and focused than its predecessor Contradictions Collapse and more dynamic than the outfit’s subsequent forays into odd-time groove, Destroy Erase Improve sees the Swedes at what many (including myself) consider their creative zenith. It was during this period in the mid-90’s that the band began to truly define their now signature sound, and in the process changed the face of metal music across both the mainstream and underground scenes. Whatever you happen to think of Meshuggah, only a fool would deny the massive impact this band has had on the direction heavy metal has taken in the last decade or so, and if you listen to just about any modern metal outfit, from Dream Theatre to the most brutal death metal acts, chances are they’ve taken some sort of influence from this band and this record.
To say that this material is iconic would be an understatement; over the years, classic Destroy tracks like “Future Breed Machine”, “Soul Burn”, and “Suffer In Truth” have been embraced by many fans as definitive Meshuggah songs, and there isn’t a track among these ten that is anything less than fucking excellent. Say what you will about the way these guys write riffs, but everything about this album is simply superbly done; the perfect production highlighting each and every instrumental texture, the incredible musicianship, and the endless supply of hooks and memorable moments amidst the outfit’s stuttering mathematical assault. While not as mechanical and uncompromising as future efforts by the band, Destroy Erase Improve was one of the most original and intense records of its time when it was released, and its quality and influence still stands up today.
The album kicks off with what could easily be called the band’s signature song, the classic “Future Breed Machine.” With its mathy thrash opening, devastating bridge groove, and classic Fredrik Thordendal guitar solo, this track exemplifies everything that made old Meshuggah so fresh and exciting. I still get a thrill listening to this song and I’ve been listening to it for years. Things never dip in quality from this tremendous start either, with the catchy melodies of “Beneath,” the memorable stomp of “Soul Burn” (containing one of Thordendal’s craziest leads ever) and the complex gallop of “Transfixion” being just a few noteworthy moments. The brief moments of relief in emotional instrumental “Acrid Placidity” and the soothing industrial opening of “Terminal Illusion” are hugely effective at pacing the album; add the wide variety of different tempos and the band’s unique apocalyptic atmosphere, and you have what is without a doubt Meshuggah’s most cohesive and diverse work to date. There’s no filler here at all, just excellent material from start to finish.
As for the “Reloaded” part, Nuclear Blast has given us bonus tracks from the Self-Caged EP as well as the long-lost track “Aztec Two-Step”, initially released on the outstanding None EP but strangely left off when that EP was reissued with Contradictions Collapse. If you have yet to hear this song then you’re in for a treat, as it's a brutal track showing Meshuggah experimenting with a very unusual and industrial sound. Not really something you’d listen to all the time, but very interesting and intense. As for the Self-Caged EP, it’s hardly a necessity, as it merely contains demo tracks of four Destroy Erase Improve songs and a live version of the awesome “Gods of Rapture” (from the aforementioned None EP). I suppose hardcore fans will appreciate these tracks as the original EP is long out of print, but they certainly aren’t worth the splurge if you already own the other material on here.
So, we basically have a very nice reissue of one of the most influential metal albums of the 90’s, with some solid bonus material on the side. What more do you need than that? This reissue is obviously a great place to start if you’ve been looking to get into this band, and while there’s seemingly no consensus among fans as to what is Meshuggah’s greatest effort (Chaosphere and Catch 33 are also great albums), Destroy Erase Improve shows this hugely important outfit at arguably their most influential and inspired phase.
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Contradictions Collapse (Reloaded)