The Violent Sleep of Reason

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The Violent Sleep of Reason
Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason.jpg
Studio album by
Released7 October 2016 (2016-10-07)
RecordedPuk Recording Studios, Gjerlev, Denmark
Genre Extreme metal, progressive metal
Length58:55 [1]
Label Nuclear Blast
Producer Tue Madsen, Meshuggah
Meshuggah chronology
Pitch Black
The Violent Sleep of Reason
Singles from The Violent Sleep of Reason
  1. "Born in Dissonance"
    Released: 25 August 2016
  2. "Nostrum"
    Released: 15 September 2016
  3. "Clockworks"
    Released: 7 October 2016

The Violent Sleep of Reason is the eighth full-length album by Swedish heavy metal band Meshuggah. It was released on 7 October 2016 on Nuclear Blast. [2] This album was recorded live in the studio, simultaneously with all members, rather than recording each instrument separately as is more common for modern recording. The band announced the new album, its title, and track list via and Revolver magazine on 5 August 2016. [3]

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Meshuggah Swedish heavy metal band

Meshuggah is a Swedish extreme metal band from Umeå, formed in 1987. Meshuggah's line-up consists of founding members vocalist Jens Kidman and lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, drummer Tomas Haake, who joined in 1990, rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström, who joined in 1993 and bassist Dick Lövgren since 2004.

Nuclear Blast German record label

Nuclear Blast is an independent record label and mail order record distributor with subsidiaries in Germany, the United States and Brazil. The record label was founded in 1987 by Markus Staiger in Germany. Originally releasing hardcore punk records, the label moved on to releasing albums by melodic death metal, grindcore, industrial metal, power metal and black metal bands, as well as tribute albums. It also distributes and promotes two post-hardcore/metalcore labels, SharpTone Records, focused on American scene, and Arising Empire, focused more on European bands such as Novelists, Imminence, Cold Snap and While She Sleeps.



The album's title was loosely inspired by The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters , an etching by Spanish painter Francisco Goya. The album's title and lyrical themes are a commentary on terrorism, extremist views on ideals, religious dogma, and the violent implications of "being asleep, so to speak, or not reacting to what's going on in the proper way". [4] Concerning the album artwork, Tomas Haake stated:

<i>The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters</i> aquatint by Francisco de Goya from the series Los Caprichos

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is an etching by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Created between 1797 and 1799, it is the 43rd of 80 etchings making up the suite of satires Los Caprichos.

Francisco Goya Spanish painter and printmaker

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker. He is considered the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and throughout his long career was a commentator and chronicler of his era. Immensely successful in his lifetime, Goya is often referred to as both the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. He was also one of the great contemporary portraitists.

Terrorism use of violence and intimidation against civilians in order to further a political goal

Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among masses of people; or fear to achieve a religious or political aim. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in war against non-combatants. The terms "terrorist" and "terrorism" originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.

"It was a hard one in the sense that you don't immediately have a visual to the title The Violent Sleep of Reason – how do you portray that?

"So when discussing this with Keerych Luminokaya, who also did the artwork for our 25th anniversary box set along with the artwork for Koloss , we just let him loose on that idea and how to portray that.

<i>Koloss</i> 2012 studio album by Meshuggah

Koloss is the seventh album by Swedish metal band Meshuggah, released on 23 March 2012 in Germany, on 26 March in the rest of Europe, and on March 27 in North America, by Nuclear Blast.

"What you're seeing on the artwork is basically a human being that's been in stasis for a long time. The vines were the original idea – they're growing into him. But it's a body that's been asleep for so long that it's been taken over by something else." [5]

In an attempt to depart from the production on previous albums like Koloss and obZen , this album was recorded live. According to Haake, this allowed the band to capture their sound more "honestly" and to capture the "rawness" of albums from the late '80s and early '90s that "inspired us when were growing up." Haake elaborated:

<i>obZen</i> 2008 studio album by Meshuggah

obZen is the sixth album by Swedish heavy metal band Meshuggah. It was released in Europe on March 7, 2008, and in North America on March 11, 2008, through Nuclear Blast. Tomas Haake made his return as the studio drummer for the record after the Drumkit from Hell drum software was used on Catch Thirtythree. The release of the album was followed by their first world tour. A video was filmed for a shorter version of the song "Bleed".

"If you put it all together using computers then you often have to fix problems after the fact. I've gone back to records where I've not known every drum part. And once you do that you can start with drums and then just add layers of guitars and then bass and it all sounds perfect.

" ObZen and Koloss are great albums but, to me, they are a little too perfect. It didn't really capture what we sounded like honestly.

"But where we recorded live you get to hear the push and pull, one person might be a little ahead and the other might be a little behind. If you kill that, you can kill the energy." [6]


In advance of the album, three single tracks were released on the YouTube channel of the band's record label, Nuclear Blast. "Born in Dissonance" was released on 25 August 2016, [7] "Nostrum" was released on 15 September 2016 and "Clockworks" (accompanied by an official music video) was released on 7 October 2016. [8] On 20 September 2016 the band released a live play-through drum cam video of "Nostrum" highlighting Tomas Haake's drum playing. [9]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Metacritic 83/100 [10]
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [11]
Exclaim! Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [12]
Kerrang! Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [13]
Metal Injection Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [14]
MetalSucks Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [15]
Terrorizer 8.5/10 [16]

The Violent Sleep of Reason has received universal acclaim from critics and fans alike. A review by Max Frank on the popular site gave the album five out of five stars and described it as a "tour-de-force; a total deconstruction of heavy music." [15] The review focuses on a paradox between what it describes as complex composition structures that seem to critique the norms of the metal genre, and some of the band members' professed ignorance of music theory. Frank suggests, "Theoreticians out there might say that Violent Sleep is 'a commentary on itself.' Meshuggah would probably respond 'shut up and check out this sick riff.'" [15] Terrorizer critic Adrien Begrand called the album "masterful", saying that the band's "signature sound is all over this record", and "like every past album the formula is tinkered with, to exacting detail and precision." [16] Stefan Andonov of Prog Sphere wrote, "They continue their tradition of producing 'punch-you-in-the-face' aggressive music that is hard to follow, but The Violent Sleep of Reason will completely satisfy the fans of the band and surely attract more metalheads to fall in love with the phenomenal art they create." [17] The album was shortlisted by IMPALA (The Independent Music Companies Association) for the Album of the Year Award 2016, which rewards on a yearly basis the best album released on an independent European label. [18]

Meshuggah received a Grammy nomination for their song "Clockworks" under the "Best Metal Performance" category. [19]


Metal Injection Metal Injection Writers' Overall Top 20 Albums of 20162016
2 [20]
Loudwire 20 Best Metal Albums of 20162016
3 [21]
Rolling Stone 20 Best Metal Albums of 20162016
2 [22]

Track listing

All lyrics by Tomas Haake except "Ivory Tower" by Mårten Hagström.

1."Clockworks"Haake, Dick Lövgren 7:15
2."Born in Dissonance"Hagström4:34
3."MonstroCity"Haake, Lövgren6:13
4."By the Ton"Haake, Lövgren, Fredrik Thordendal (uncredited) [23] 6:04
5."Violent Sleep of Reason"Haake, Lövgren6:51
6."Ivory Tower"Hagström4:59
7."Stifled"Haake, Lövgren6:31
8."Nostrum"Haake, Lövgren5:15
9."Our Rage Won't Die"Haake, Hagström4:41
10."Into Decay"Haake, Hagström6:32
Total length:58:55





Chart (2016)Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA) [24] 9
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria) [25] 31
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders) [26] 47
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia) [27] 32
Canadian Albums (Billboard) [28] 18
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) [29] 60
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista) [30] 11
French Albums (SNEP) [31] 75
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) [32] 18
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ) [33] 34
Italian Albums (FIMI) [34] 57
New Zealand Heatseekers Albums (RMNZ) [35] 2
Scottish Albums (OCC) [36] 21
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan) [37] 17
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade) [38] 21
UK Albums (OCC) [39] 32
US Billboard 200 [40] 17

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Further reading