Mandatory Metal: 5 Essential Meshuggah Songs

Heavy music is full of legendary bands boasting deep catalogs stacked with iconic songs — sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, or what to consider their best. With that in mind, we present the “Mandatory Metal” lists, which collect what we consider to be the definitive tracks from various members of the metallurgic pantheon. Up today, Meshuggah, those Swedish time-signature-torturing relucant-djent-progenitors who inspired a generation of tech-minded metalheads to stutter and chug in their wake. Meshuggah have a deep catalog stacked with must-hear math-metal crushers, but in our opinion, these classic cuts are their most essential. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.

“Abnegating Cecity”
Album Contradictions Collapse

You can hear Meshuggah’s thrash roots on this track-marked tale from their 1991 full-length debut, recorded back when vocalist-guitarist Jens Kidman still had hair.
Sample Lyric “So you see, you whitecoated freak, I don’t need your allegations/Instead, join me to sanity’s end with my sweet needle of salvation.”

“Soul Burn”
Album Destroy Erase Improve

Little Jackie O. used this vicious 1995 tech-metal tirade to piss off the neighbors in an episode of The Osbournes. Meshuggah later landed on Ozzfest.
Sample Lyric “Inner perception trapped in a soul cage/Human wreckage, I leave my liquid face.”

“New Millennium Cyanide Christ”
Album Chaosphere

Bolstered by a self-deprecating, all-air-instruments tour-bus video, this blistering 1998 cut features the distorted rumble of departed bassist Gustaf Hielm.
Sample Lyric “Disciples, come join with me to save a failed humanity/Follow the gods of cyanide into a new eternity.”

“Rational Gaze”
Album Nothing

The second track from Meshuggah’s 2002 full-length is a thunderhead of mechanized death in which drummer Thomas Haake’s lyrics address the societal effects of visual misinformation.
Sample Lyric “Everything examined. Separated, one thing at a time/The harder we stare, the more complete the disintegration.”

“I”
Album I

This 21-minute, one-song EP from 2004 is not only the longest jam Meshuggah ever recorded, but it’s also one of the band’s most thrilling and complex.
Sample Lyric “Sacrilege in persona/In truth, fundamentally twisted/A witness to this savage carnage/A frenzy of animosity.”