Fan Poll: Top 5 Meshuggah Songs | Revolver

Fan Poll: Top 5 Meshuggah Songs

"Bleed" didn't even make the cut!
meshuggah GETTY ozzfest 2002, Scott Gries/Getty Images
Meshuggah, Ozzfest, 2002
photograph by Scott Gries/Getty Images

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Meshuggah occupy a refreshingly unique space in metal history. Although the Swedish extreme-metal unit formed way back in 1987, it wasn't until the mid-Nineties that they developed their signature sound, and despite putting out astoundingly good and sonically unparalleled material that's been name-checked by figures like Deftones' Stephen Carpenter and the Dillinger Escape Plan's Ben Weinman, it wasn't until after 2008's obZen — which jolted their career with a second gear — that we started to see genuine Meshuggah clones pop up.

Additionally, while most extreme-metal bands of their age either broke up at one point, suffered a major lineup shift or simply became less intense over time, Meshuggah have avoided those pitfalls, and their music has only gotten harder, heavier and more technically proficient with each new album. When we asked our readers to pick their favorite Meshuggah song, all the major eras of their career were well-represented, but the top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below — and the list might surprise you!

5. "Dancers to a Discordant System"

Meshuggah's 2008 masterpiece, obZen, is "all about human evil," according to drummer-lyricist Tomas Haake, and "Dancers to a Discordant System" distills that complex motif into a nine-minute epic of profound social criticisms and neck-snapping polyrhythms. "We dance to appease/Compete in stupidity," Jens Kidman shrieks over what's ironically one of the band's most dance-able instrumentals.

4. "Corridor of Chameleons"

Meshuggah's third album, 1998's Chaosphere, is when the band fully realized the unique tech-groove-metal style that they've been tinkering with ever since. "Corridor of Chameleons" features an almost tribal beat and rap-tinged vocal patterns that sound like Roots-era Sepultura crossed with the power-washing extreme-metal pummel of Pantera's Great Southern Trendkill — but heavier in every regard.

3. "Straws Pulled at Random"

Pretty much any band who play palm-muted riffs on eight-string guitars owe Meshuggah a debt of gratitude, and the songs on their 2002 opus, Nothing, are particularly influential on the legions of bands who'd call themselves djent in the decade that followed. Crucially, "Straws Pulled at Random" not only codifies Meshuggah's singular momentum, but also boasts beautiful counter-melodies during its ascendant final portion that show their music has more than just one pile-drivingly heavy dimension.

2. "New Millennium Cyanide Christ"

Inspired by the bizarre appeal of suicide cults like Jonestown, "New Millennium Cyanide Christ" is the clear standout from Chaosphere, a concussive head-bang fest that packs all of the band's strongest attributes into a single track. There's plenty of Haake's vivid prose ("Self inflicted fractures/I replace my bones with bars/Aluminum bleeding oxide/The drug of Gods into my pounding veins"), Kidman's belt-sander screeches, dizzying finger-tapping courtesy of Fredrik Thordendal and, of course, beastly polyrhythms.

1. "Future Breed Machine"

A throwback classic for the win! While much of Meshuggah's 21st century material is much more emblematic of who they are today, the band's 1995 sophomore LP, Destroy Erase Improve, saw them with one foot still in their formative thrash influences and the other in pendulum-swinging, jazz-metal breakdown land. Opener "Future Breed Machine," with its alarm-sounding lead, is a clear standout, with galloping verses and spit-flying gang vocals that resemble their heroes in Metallica and multiple, tremendous groove parts that sound years — decades, even — ahead of their time.