20 Best Metal Albums of 2016

Vintage thrashers, modern mathletes and more: The year in heavy

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Meshuggah, 'The Violent Sleep of Reason'

2. Meshuggah, 'The Violent Sleep of Reason'

Bionic perfection has become second nature to Meshuggah, but in order to make their latest quantum leap, the veteran Swedish band needed to embrace their human side. For The Violent Sleep of Reason, the group recorded live in the studio for the first time in more than 20 years, getting closer than ever to capturing the sweat that goes into drummer Tomas Haake navigating these warp-speed riff labyrinths. Meanwhile, the band's famously byzantine songs have never sounded so demented or punishing: The rhythmic slice-and-dice of "Born in Dissonance" one-upped Meshuggah staples such as "Bleed," while the tumbling, endlessly winding "By the Ton" found the quintet exploring new frontiers of compositional WTF. An entire metal subgenre, djent, now builds on Meshuggah's unmistakable sonic signature, but Violent Sleep proved that the originators are still the ones setting the pace. H.S.

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