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Hailing from Umeå, Sweden, and formed in 1987, Meshuggah are one of the world’s most prominent extreme metal bands. Known for their complex, polyrhythmic songs fusing death and thrash metal with progressive and jazz fusion elements, they’ve released a handful of albums since their debut in 1991.
It’s fitting that this band takes their name from the Yiddish word meaning “Crazy”. Most things about them don’t make a lick of sense at first, everything from their songs to their lyrical themes to the fact that this band has had an album chart in the top 20 of the Billboard albums chart. It’s definitely difficult to wrap your head around, but if anything, they’ve earned it.
The band formed in the college town of Umeå out of the ashes of a previous band that lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal formed in 1985. The band as we know it today formed two years later but didn’t release anything until their debut E.P in 1989, entitled “Psykisk Testbild”. Only 1000 copies were pressed but it was enough to get them a deal with German metal legends Nuclear Blast.
“Contradictions Collapse”, their debut record, was recorded shortly afterwards and released in 1991. Between albums they released two E.Ps, “None” came first in 1994 and the second “Selfcaged”, was to be released in the same year. However, due to a freak accidents sustained in their day jobs both Thordendal and drummer Tomas Haake were out of action for the year, so “Selfcaged” came in 1995 instead.
It was just as well, the band embarked on their first major European tour supporting the might Machine Head and their second album “Destroy Erase Improve” was released in July. The album got the same critical acclaim as their debut, and eventually went on to be highly influential in the djent and Mathcore scenes of the late 2000’s.
Since then the band has received copious attention for their instrumental skills, broad experimental streak and intense live shows. They’ve supported the likes of Slayer and Tool and have performed on the Ozzfest tour. For a band this wilfully extreme and defiant, this is a shining example of how sometimes, quality and hard work can win out in the end.