77. Meshuggah, 'Destroy Erase Improve' (1995)
The title of Swedish juggernaut Meshuggah's second album reads like a Terminator-age manifesto, and the contents live up to the challenge. A savage combination of death-metal ferocity, thrash precision, vocalist Jens Kidman's hoarse hardcore bark, Fredrik Thordendal's quicksilver jazz-fusion guitar solos, and mind-melting rhythmic complexity, Destroy Erase Improve formed the template for all subsequent Meshuggah albums. From the opening alarm klaxon, mechanical gear-grinding and drummer Tomas Haake's whiplash-inducing beat on "Future Breed Machine," the album seldom dips in intensity. There and on the subsequent "Beneath," fluid guitar solos complement jagged, robotic rhythms, while fittingly titled instrumental "Acrid Placidity" highlights Thordendal's elegant flow, set against a spare, moody pulse. The band would continue to evolve with down-tuned seven- and eight-string guitars, computerized drums and album-length compositions but never strayed significantly from the signature sound it unleashed with this still-dazzling creation: the foundational text for "djent," a new mutant strain of math-infused hypermetal. It's no great stretch to suggest that one factor contributing to the overwhelming vitality of Meshuggah's latest album, 2016's The Violent Sleep of Reason, was the decision to record with all band members in the studio simultaneously for the first time since Destroy Erase Improve. S.S.