Meshuggah’s Mårten Hagström: “Fredrik is the wrathful guitar genius. So for him to come reduction modified into natural and made me must trudge on with it, too”

Meshuggah’s Mårten Hagström: “Fredrik is the wrathful guitar genius. So for him to come reduction modified into natural and made me must trudge on with it, too”

Mårten Hagström

(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic)

When the coronavirus pandemic shut down the tune industry in 2020, Swedish technical, experimental death metal band Meshuggah handiest had two excursions left for their 2016 album The Violent Sleep of Reason

They had been dazzling great already scheduled to come to writing mode for what would flip out to be Immutable. But there had been diversified boundaries, with the exception of for Covid, that left the long bustle of the band in jeopardy.

The cracks within the Meshuggah fortress looked gradually and had been largely resulting from co-founding guitarist Fredrik Thordendal’s waning curiosity within the band. Back in 1996, he started engaged on the facet venture Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects, and a twelve months later he launched the album Sol Niger Inner

But he remained with Meshuggah the total time and modified into reduction in beefy writing mode in time for 1998’s Chaosphere. For the following 15 years, he remained dedicated to his predominant band within the studio and on the road, but his want to experiment extra with shorter songs and psychedelic atmospheres nagged at his psyche.

In 2011, he started spending extra time on the nonetheless-unreleased 2d Special Defects album. He wrote miniature for Meshuggah’s 2012 file Koloss and didn’t conjure a single riff for The Violent Sleep of Reason, though he tracked all his leads and agreed to tour. Eight months after the beginning of the file, nonetheless, he left the band factual earlier than a deliberate U.S. tour with Megadeth.

“I will’t say it fully took us without warning,” shrugs guitarist and predominant songwriter Mårten Hagström from his residence in picturesque Umeå, Sweden, about 400 miles from his bandmates in Stockholm. “He valid stayed with us until in some unspecified time in the future he stated, ‘I’m sorry. I must step off to manufacture a 

studio for this venture. I will’t tour.’ We weren’t thinking about it, to impart the least. But on the other hand, all of us know Fredrik and we realize how he works. He’s cherish a cussed canines. When he will get a bone in his mouth, he’s no longer letting trudge of it.”

With miniature time to put collectively for the Megadeth tour, Meshuggah recruited Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry, Nocturnal Rites) to contain in. He mercurial discovered Thordendal’s system and, being with a brand original band member who modified into stoked to be on the road, every person had a right time. To paraphrase Nilsson, he stated his stint within the band modified into “the finest time I’ve ever had at summer camp”. 

But when camp modified into over, Meshuggah confronted an existential disaster. They had been factual reduction within the realm they had been in when Thordendal bailed. The major order modified into that his departure modified into open-ended. When he stepped away for Meshuggah, he urged his bandmates to give him three and a half years to work on Special Defects, after which he’d maintain whether or no longer or no longer he desired to rejoin.

“I believe he didn’t if fact be told know he modified into going to come reduction,” Hagström says. “And we didn’t know if he modified into going to come reduction. After which I realized, ‘Fuck, man, we’ve been doing this for 30 years.’ That if fact be told messed with my head. I started questioning whether or no longer I desired to proceed or if I in actual fact desired to stop doing the band.”

I started questioning whether or no longer I desired to proceed or if I in actual fact desired to stop doing the band

Mårten Hagström

With the realm on sustain resulting from Covid, Hagström and his bandmates decided they had nothing higher to raze than open writing a brand original album as a four-share earlier than realizing what the long bustle held for them and Thordendal. 

Satirically, the suppose of affairs created the factual quantity of tension for Hagström and Meshuggah to jot down their most creative, eclectic and emotionally expressive beginning since 2005’s Defend Thirtythree

“We if fact be told wanted this to be roughly cherish a Defend Thirtythree for 2022 – an extended drag that’s roughly cherish a soundtrack that has system which could presumably well be a miniature bit frightful, and each tune strikes you into the following half,” Hagström says. “And what’s roughly funny is that this album and Defend Thirtythree are the supreme two of our albums that in most cases wrote themselves. What I mean by that is no longer that it modified into an easy course of or that we didn’t redo stuff. 

“I believe we worked presumably better than ever on preparations, in actual fact no longer letting the rest trudge. Never. ‘Is that this right ample? Is it in actual fact right ample?’ We had been asking that ask the least bit times through this course of. But at the identical time, there wasn’t a level where we stated, ‘What are we doing? The save are we going?’It modified into all about emotion. 

“As we had been doing it, we knew it modified into flowing the vogue we wanted it to and we knew the system worked collectively and had been nonetheless right now recognizable as Meshuggah.”


Mårten Hagström within the recording studio
all in the course of the Omens sessions.
(Image credit: Meshuggah)

From the staccato opening gut-punch of Broken Cog to the off-kilter chuggery and desperate single-impart squalls of Ligature Marks, Immutable is unrelenting, undeniable and of the 2d – a fragmented thunderstorm that rolls cherish an apocalyptic soundtrack, matching the photos of battle, contagion and treachery that splash all the most practical way through cable data 24-7. 

Thordendal’s reeling, swerving leads spiral through “Faultless” – disorienting and as digestible as broken glass. At the identical time, the 9-and-a-half-minute-long instrumental They Circulate Below crosses shadowy, Instrument-vogue atmospherics with crushing psychedelic hooks redolent of Neurosis. And the undistorted album nearer Past Disturbing is a balmy wind all the most practical way through a barren desolate tract inhabited handiest by David Gilmour; what it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in depth.

Throughout a poignant, revealing conversation, Hagström explains how working in isolation all through a quarantine modified into artistically invigorating, the few paths Meshuggah sought to follow for Immutable, his weakness for Simon & Garfunkel and the return of Thordendal.

You’ve by no manner been the roughly band to maintain upfront what roughly an album you desired to compose. Became that the case this time or did the prerequisites in which you worked data your method to carry out a bleak, cinematic accelerate?

“No. We didn’t have a mission observation or a deliberate path. But we did say we raze no longer need the rest to be filtered out early. Now and again we’ve performed that. We’ve pitched recommendations and anyone says, ‘Oh, presumably this is no longer 100 p.c where we want to trudge,’ so we throw it away. This time the whole lot modified into on the desk. Granted, some stuff obtained overlooked because it wasn’t graceful. 

“But for essentially the most half, we decided there would be no strict rules. We stated, ‘Don’t take into account whether or no longer one thing is simply too long or too short or doesn’t match what we’re doing. Loyal take into account each tune as one thing that places you in a routine room, a routine ambiance.’ And we figured if we did that, it could per chance compose for an enthralling accelerate.”  

Immutable is an enthralling accelerate, after all, but it completely doesn’t pull punches for the sake of melody or harmony. Even a pair of of the tender stuff is brutal.

“We’ve the least bit times desired to preserve the tune right now recognizable as Meshuggah, but to raze diversified issues interior that framework. Whereas you impact the total album it is advisable maybe nonetheless know what band you’ve been listening to, but we the least bit times need each album to have a routine flavor. And with this it felt cherish, ‘Okay, we’re no longer 22-twelve months-worn guys with mustard in our ass, valid going rabid the total time. We’re an older band now and we want to replicate that.’” 

As a guitar player, what keeps you inflamed? 

“The writing course of is nonetheless essentially the most fun half for me. When we did Nothing [in 2002], we started the usage of eight-string guitars, which modified into an right huge deal. It’s these kinds of adjustments that encourage me. For this, I assume I modified into in actual fact drawn to putting in quite loads of melodic stuff from issues I archaic to take imprint to support within the day. I brought loads extra of that in and opened myself as a lot as bring a wider vary of what I’m as a author.”

Can you be extra particular?

Broken Cog and Ligature Marks have some riffs in them which could presumably well be no longer not original-kind energy chords or single tone taking half in. These have extra of a palm silent after which you silent with each hands. It’s nearly cherish taking half within the slap bass but on four strings on the guitar. And for the gorgeous system, I didn’t must restrict myself the least bit. I valid went for stuff that comes naturally to me after I sit down down and ranking the guitar and noodle. So it modified into very intuitive that manner.” 

I in actual fact delight in Simon & Garfunkel for the guitar work, where there’s so great team spirit in it, but it completely’s no longer overstated

Did you file the gorgeous system on a six-string or did you conclude the whole lot on an eight-string?

“I played the acoustic system on an eight-string because I’m so archaic to that, but it completely hasn’t obtained quite loads of the bass tones. Most of it’ll be played on a six-string. But in Past Disturbing there’s quite loads of eight-string the total manner through, namely the origin half. 

“I write quite loads of gorgeous stuff and I even have computers loaded with them. I’ve obtained no longer decrease than one whole album’s worth of atmospheric stuff. And a few of it felt factual to utilize on this album. It’s an extended album. You need places to breathe in reveal to carry out that dynamic you’re having a search for for.”

Were there obvious functions of reference for the gorgeous system? 

“When I modified into growing up I played quite loads of acoustic guitar. I in actual fact delight in Simon & Garfunkel for the guitar work, where there’s so great team spirit in it, but it completely’s no longer overstated. And there’s this kind of gentle-weight touch to the tone but it completely carries so great weight to your abdominal. 

“We’ve performed that roughly thing earlier than, but mostly within the interludes. That’s where I tossed that in, but it completely’s the least bit times been cherish, ‘Okay, here we have a pummeling album after which we toss this in at the raze for two minutes or if we need a breather within the guts.’ I desired to develop that manner.” 


[From left] Jens Kidman, Fredrik Thordendal, Tomas Haake,
Dick Lövgren and Mårten Hagström.
(Image credit: Edvard hansson & Brendan baldwin)

Did you write your system individually after which birthday party within the studio to work them out collectively or did you birthday party and collaborate?

“Fredrik modified into out of the image for the writing of this one. He recorded leads on four tracks, but he didn’t hear these songs until he obtained them from the studio tough mix, valid so he would be ready to play on this album. 

“So it modified into in most cases me on my delight in, and [drummer] Tomas Haake and [bassist] Dick Lövgren worked collectively in Stockholm. We despatched demo files reduction and forth. After which we had meetings. I drove all the vogue down to the studio in Stockholm to work with them. Due to Covid, I didn’t trudge by articulate. 

“I drove six hours away from diversified other folk. This pandemic catered to my working vogue, fortunately ample. ’Situation off going right into a bubble and valid being in a lockdown mode is after I write my finest stuff. I in actual fact have a miniature shed out within the yard where I even have my residence studio. So I’m going up within the morning, bring a pot of coffee accessible after which I valid open hammering away, dive deep into the rabbit gap and valid ranking lost in my thoughts.”

What modified into the major tune you wrote for Immutable? 

“I firstly wrote the intro riff for Broken Cog [in 2007] for Obzen. But I didn’t put collectively to drag it off. I belief, “Right here’s no longer right ample. I don’t will must have it here.” I tried it over again for Koloss, and it didn’t work. 

“But this time around, I had an epiphany and I figured out what it fundamental. I modified into the least bit times intrigued by the most practical way it moved and the most practical way it sounded nearly cherish a broken tank valid rolling alongside awkwardly over the 4/4 beat. But I the least bit times tried to ratchet it up so that it could per chance trudge from that riff into one thing extra intense and pummeling.”

How did you compose the tune work?

“One evening after I modified into if fact be told no longer engaged on Broken Cog – I modified into messing around with some gorgeous stuff for Gentle the Shortening Fuse – I went, ‘Wait a minute. Instead of the usage of one thing heavier for Broken Cog, I’ll utilize this frosty atmospheric verse.” It has the identical 6/4 timing, and I went, ‘Yes! Right here’s where it wants to trudge!’”

Did you collaborate much less on this album since you had been extra isolated? 

“Correctly, yes and no. We in actual fact tried to cease out of each diversified’s songs as great as that it is advisable per chance think of. We most ceaselessly raze that to a diploma, but this time the one who wrote the tune modified into in actual fact to blame. 

“Solutions had been welcome, but the final say went to the predominant songwriter. And the trigger of it modified into because we knew we would prove with a extra dynamic album if decrease than four guys’ filters had been utilized to all these items. That’s why it’s an enthralling accelerate from origin to raze.”


Fredrik Thordendal with a custom Ibanez signature seven-string within the recording studio all in the course of the Omens sessions.  (Image credit: Meshuggah)

When did you all agree that Fredrik would tour with you over again?

“Right here’s the most practical way it went down. We decided to open making the album, after which three-and-a-half years point-blank from the day he stated he wanted that great day off rolled around. So, we went over to his studio, had coffee, and played some pinball. 

We’ve been collectively for thus long. We’ve performed so great shit collectively. We’ve been through so great

“We had been valid taking pictures the shit – no huge deal. And he stated, ‘How raze you guys feel about me taking half in over again within the band?’ And we stated, ‘Correctly, how raze you feel about it?’ And he stated, ‘I’ve roughly been lacking it. And this is my band and I feel I’m up for coming reduction. Is that okay?’”

How did you react?

“We had been cherish, ‘Fuck, yeah! We’re family.’ We’ve been collectively for thus long. We’ve performed so great shit collectively. We’ve been through so great. And he’s such an unlimited half of the lead guitar vogue of this band. He’s the wrathful guitar genius. So for him to come reduction modified into natural and made me must trudge on with it, too.” 

  • Immutable (opens in original tab) is out now through Atomic Hearth.

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Jon is an creator, journalist, and podcaster who no longer too long ago wrote and hosted the major 12-episode season of the acclaimed Backstaged: The Devil in Metal, an queer from Diversion Podcasts/iHeart. He is furthermore the major creator of the widespread Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral Historical previous of Metal and the only creator of Elevating Hell: Slack the curtain Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends. As well to, he co-wrote I’m the Man: The Legend of That Guy From Anthrax (with Scott Ian), Ministry: The Misplaced Gospels Basically based mostly on Al Jourgensen (with Al Jourgensen), and My Stand up: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory (with Roger Miret). Wiederhorn has worked on workers as an partner editor for Rolling Stone, Executive Editor of Guitar Journal, and senior author for MTV Data. His work has furthermore looked in Trudge, Leisure Weekly,, Revolver, Inked, and diversified publications and web pages.