Tomas Haake: Complex Meshuggah Licks

“Beneath” From Destroy Erase Improve

If you want to get an idea of what Meshuggah is all about, start here. This tune is ridiculous, driving, brutal insanity. Given enough space, I’d have loved to transcribe all of it. On this track, Haake demonstrates great command of strange polyrhythmic grooves with suddenly shifting meters and feels. It starts with a ridiculous groove that has a strange bass drum and snare pattern, which sounds incredible with the guitars. The cymbal pattern has been obliterated in a compressor-induced wash, but I’ve given it my best shot. At the verse, the song shifts to a triplet feel that we’ve written in 12/8. It begins with a driving beat for the first couple of measures but quickly shifts into an offbeat, displaced feeling groove, largely the result of moving the bass drum off of 1. The next section has more kick drum notes and continues to drive hard.

tomas haake

“War” From Rare Trax

Meshuggah isn’t just about weird. On “War,” Haake plays some fairly straight-ahead blast beats at ridiculous speeds. This tune is somewhere over 200bpm — our ancient pendulum metronome’s label describes using the Italian word prestissimo, which roughly translates to “stupid fast.” This opening fill is an attention getter, with its quick sextuplets that modulate into thirty-second-notes. Haake uses cymbal chokes and a crescendo snare roll to lead into the pattern known as a “doubled black metal blast beat.” You know how your mouth waters when you imagine biting into a lemon?

tomas haake

Our legs ache just looking at this groove.

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