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MESHUGGAH

Current Members

Past Members

Biography

An experimental Thrash band boasting guitarists that both employ seven and eight string guitars named after the Yiddish term for 'Crazy', MESHUGGAH formed in Umeå during 1987 as a trio of guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, ex-bassist for MEMORANDUM, bassist Peter Nordin and vocalist / guitarist Jens Kidman. Throughout their career MESHUGGAH have established a reputation for adventurism and non conformity in their approach to the Metal genre. Having gained a foothold with their first album, 'Contradictions Collapse', the MESHUGGAH collective decided on one of the most radical shifts in direction the Metal world has ever seen, dropping subtle hints with the 'None' EP before launching a whole new with 'Destroy Erase Improve'. From this point, MESHUGGAH would become synonymous with extreme eccentricity, polyrhythmic power and Jazz complexity. By 'Chaosphere' the transformation had been completed, de-tuned eight string guitars now raging viciously over the most disturbing form of Progressive Metal yet heard.

At first branded METALLIEN, this title soon gave way to MESHUGGAH. The band's first commercial offering came with an independent EP 'Psykisk Testbild', released through local record store Garageland in 1989. Only 1000 copies were pressed and this would serve as the only MESHUGGAH release to feature Niklas Lundgren on drums, before he was supplanted by Thomas Haake the following year. MESHUGGAH briefly employed the services of HOLLOW guitar player Marcus Bigren in 1990. Also distributed that year would be a six song demo cassette, 'Ejaculation Of Salvation'. It would not be until 1991 that the band got back into the studio, delivering a two track demo comprising 'Qualms Of Reality' and 'All This Because Of Greed'.

German label Nuclear Blast took the band on to issue the debut album 'Contradictions Collapse' in 1991. An out and out Thrashfest from start to finish, 'Contradictions Collapse''s hi-tech metal drew exemplary reviews. Despite the flawless nature of this album, MESHUGGAH was yet to show their true colours musically and, indeed, commercially as 'Contradictions Collapse' was soon swallowed up in a plethora of Swedish Death / Thrash releases and soon dropped off the radar. Sometime after this release Jens Kidman opted to prioritise the lead vocal role and Mårten Hagström, previously a member of Domsjö Thrashers BAROPHOBIA, assumed his guitar duties.

In 1993 Thordendal appeared as part of the XXX ATOMIC TOEJAM duo alongside with his former MEMORANDUM colleague Petter Marklund to record the limited edition EP 'A Gathering of the Tribes for the First/Last Human Be-In' for Cold Meat Industry. Unfortunately, progress was stalled when the quartet was beset by a catalogue of injuries to band members. Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, a carpenter by trade, has cut the top off a finger and drummer Tomas Haake trapped his hand in a lathe machine.

The self-produced transitional EP 'None', recorded at Tonteknik Recordings in Umeå, followed in 1994. When MESHUGGAH toured Europe in 1995 supporting American outfit MACHINE HEAD guitarist Mårten Hagström actually stepped in for the headliner's guitarist Rob Flynn after the American had suffered a hand injury. The roles would be reversed when MESHUGGAH, having lost bassist Peter Nordin due to a severe ear infection, opted to resume action as a quartet with Thordendal playing bass, including lead solos, through his guitar rig. Other gigs on the tour just had two guitars with Mårten playing through a pitch shifter shifted one octave down.

July 1995 marked the public airing of the new sounding MESHUGGAH with the groundbreaking 'Destroy, Erase, Improve', laid down at Soundfront Studios in Uppsala with Daniel Bergstrand behind the desk. The title told the full story, the band having stripped Metal down to the bare essentials before completely rebuilding it in a totally abstract form. It should be noted that the 1995 EP 'Selfcaged', although released by Nuclear Blast in both Europe and America, sees a completely different track listing for each territory. The same year Thordendal would donate a guitar solo to the BLENDER release 'Back To Planet Softcore'. Live work for MESHUGGAH in 1995 was rounded off with a batch of Autumn dates shared with CLAWFINGER Scandinavia and Germany, again completed without a bassist. By the time of their Hamburg concert, Gustaf Hielm of CHARTA 77 had enrolled to fulfill four-string duties to finish the tour and then launch into a month long set of shows with HYPOCRISY.

Fredrik Thordendal assembled a side project with Petter Marklund titled FREDRIK THORDENDAL'S MUSICAL DEFECTS, recording an album, 'Sol Niger Within', in 1997. The guitarist would also figure on three tracks on the MATS/MORGEN album. MESHUGGAH's own 1997 release, the mini-album 'The True Human Design', would witness a remix of 'Future Breed Machine' featuring CLAWFINGER's Jocke Skog, and one new track, 'Sane'.

The November 1998 outing 'Chaosphere' would cement the MESHUGGAH line-up of vocalist Jens Kidman, guitarists Fredric Thordendal and Mårten Hagström, bass player Gustaf Hielm and drummer Tomas Haake. This album, stripped of any remaining thrash vestiges, presented the group as a full-blown Math Metal smorgasbord of near impenetrable jarring time changes, atonality and dissonant riffing. Whilst fans revelled in the maze like meanderings, critics struggled to dissect and analyse, hailing Haake's unconventional use of dual 4/4 and 23/16 rhythm, Kidman's mechanical staccato bark and Thordendal's liberal usage of avant-garde Jazz.

Fans were quick to jump on the fact that advance promotional copies of 'Chaosphere' hosted a track 'Unanything', this song being neglected from the regular release. Initial concert work to push 'Chaosphere' had the band on the road in the USA upfront of a Scandinavian leg with ENTOMBED. The band toured America in 1999 supporting SLAYER and here found that their unique slant on Metal had gained them kudos outside of the mainstream Metal press as many musician and instrument based publications began picking up on the band. European shows that June had the band lined up with German Hardcore merchants STAHLHAMMER and legendary US act S.O.D.

The 2001 release 'Rare Trax' was compiled in order to put the band's 1989 demo onto CD format for the first time. Also included were later demos and both studio and live video footage. Gustaf Hielm left the band in July 2001.

MESHUGGAH received an enviable opportunity in September 2001 invited to open for the September U.S. tour leg of platinum artist TOOL. The highly anticipated 'Nothing' album sold a respectable 6'500 copies in North America on its first week of release, MESHUGGAH becoming the first band in the history of Nuclear Blast Records to break into the Billboard Top 200, landing at no. 165. 'Nothing' debuted employment of custom built Nevborn and Ibanez eight string guitars for Thordendal and Hagström, with two extra low strings enabling the pair to explore the depths of the lowest registers possible. Adding to the inhuman, regimented atmosphere of the record would be a decision to programme all percussion. They would pull in another first for the label with 'Nothing', it delivering the inaugural review in the esteemed 'Rolling Stone' magazine for the company. The relationship with TOOL would be strengthened as MESHUGGAH united with the avant-garde American Rockers for a further lengthy string of shows taking them up until December. MESHUGGAH paired off with STRAPPING YOUNG LAD for US dates in May of 2003.

Scheduled appearances for early July at the 'Quartfestivalen' in Kristiansand, Norway and 'Arvikafestivalen' event in Arvika, Sweden would be cancelled. Apparently guitarist Mårten Hagström was struck with an unspecified affliction whilst drummer Tomas Haake was suffering a flare up of carpal tunnel syndrome. Meantime, vocalist Jens Kidman took time out to guest on the track 'The Dream Is Over' featured on the MUSHROOMHEAD album 'XIII'. In November Thordendal contributed a guitar solo to the track 'Asphyxiate' on the 'Irradiant' album from French Nu-Thrash act SCARVE.

MESHUGGAH pulled in the ARMAGEDDON, EUCHARIST, ARCH ENEMY and IN FLAMES credited Dick Lövgren as new bass guitarist in February of 2004. This revised unit entered the studio to record an EP, comprising of a solitary twenty minute track entitled 'I', for Fractured Transmitter Records, the label formed by MUSHROOMHEAD vocalist Jason Mann. That same month the group also announced their next album for Nuclear Blast would be a further full length album 'Catch Thirtythree', albeit yet another single song session. Released in June, the album sold just under 7'000 copies in its first week of US sales to debut on the Billboard charts at no. 170.

European dates in June of 2005 saw French act SCARVE as opening act. MESHUGGAH then announced a return to the USA alongside GOD FORBID, THE HAUNTED and MNEMIC as part of the 'Fury of the Fall' world tour in October. Throughout November Dick Lövgren and Tomas Haake conducted a number of Swedish musicians clinics.

MESHUGGAH's March 2008 album, 'ObZen' sold 11,400 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at no. 59 on The Billboard 200 chart.

The band co-headlined the 'Anthem Metal' festival held on August 14th 2008 at Hangar 11 on the shores of Tel Aviv, Israel, alongside SATYRICON, OPETH, DARK TRANQUILLITY, THE HAUNTED, NEVERMORE plus Israeli bands SALEM, BETZEFER, DISTORTED, THEY:SWARM and THE FADING. UK tour dates were set for September with Australian dates scheduled for October.

MESHUGGAH paired up with a reunited CYNIC for a North American tour in February 2009.

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