Meshuggah – “Destroy Erase Improve”

Altering the Future

The making of Meshuggah’s “Destroy Erase Improve”

Everyone remembers that one episode of The Osbournes some five years back where Ozzy’s ungrateful male sprog took it upon himself to use Meshuggah’s Destroy Erase Improve as a thrust and parry in the suburban war against his Beverly Hills neighbors. Considering how the Swedish (not Norwegian, Jack!) quintet was suddenly on everyone’s lips following that one particular act of revenge, it’s hard to believe that upon the release of said album in 1995—an album that has come to be widely considered as one of the ’90s’ definitive metallic works—Meshuggah were pretty much still an unknown quintet hailing from Umeå, a small town in northern Sweden. However, once Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström’s dissonant shots of staccato guitar detonated album opener “Future Breed Machine” before locking in with Tomas Haake’s polyrhythmic kick drum patterns, the silence was soon shattered, as was the scope of metal’s boundaries. It also didn’t hurt that the band finally got their mitts on a North American release and some decent label backing overseas. Falling somewhere between incendiary tech-thrash, angular math rock, and brutal death metal, and accented by the slick fluidity of Thordendal’s fusion-influenced leads, Destroy Erase Improve set a new metal watermark, and continues to immeasurably influence to this very day. Decibel tracked down Haake, Thordendal, Hagström, vocalist Jens Kidman, and former bassist Peter Nordin to reminisce about our latest Hall of Fame induction.

—Kevin Stewart-Panko

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