The Violent Sleep of Reason

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The Violent Sleep of Reason
Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason.jpg
Studio album by
Released 7 October 2016 (2016-10-07)
Recorded Puk Recording Studios, Gjerlev, Denmark
Genre Extreme metal, progressive metal, avant-garde metal
Length 58:55[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]


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:

"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.

"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:

"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
Source Rating
Metacritic 83/100[10]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[11]
Exclaim! 4/5 stars[12]
Kerrang! 5/5 stars[13]
Metal Injection 8/10 stars[14]
MetalSucks 5/5 stars[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]


Publication Accolade Year Rank
Metal Injection Metal Injection Writers' Overall Top 20 Albums of 2016 2016
Loudwire 20 Best Metal Albums of 2016 2016
Rolling Stone 20 Best Metal Albums of 2016 2016

Track listing

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

No. Title Music Length
1. "Clockworks" Haake, Dick Lövgren 7:15
2. "Born in Dissonance" Hagström 4:34
3. "MonstroCity" Haake, Lövgren 6:13
4. "By the Ton" Haake, Lövgren, Fredrik Thordendal (uncredited)[23] 6:04
5. "Violent Sleep of Reason" Haake, Lövgren 6:51
6. "Ivory Tower" Hagström 4:59
7. "Stifled" Haake, Lövgren 6:31
8. "Nostrum" Haake, Lövgren 5:15
9. "Our Rage Won't Die" Haake, Hagström 4:41
10. "Into Decay" Haake, Hagström 6:32
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


  1. ^
  2. ^ "MESHUGGAH: 'The Violent Sleep Of Reason' Album Details Revealed". August 5, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  3. ^ "Meshuggah Announce New Album, 'The Violent Sleep of Reason'". Revolver. August 5, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  4. ^ "Meshuggah on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  5. ^ Munro, Scott. "Meshuggah talk The Violent Sleep Of Reason inspirations". Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Meshuggah recorded Violent Sleep Of Reason live". 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  7. ^ Grow, Kory. "Hear Meshuggah's Mind-Bending New Song 'Born in Dissonance'". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  9. ^ "MESHUGGAH: 'Nostrum' Drum Playthrough Video Available". Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  10. ^ "The Violent Sleep of Reason by Meshuggah". Metacritic. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  11. ^ Jurek, Thom (7 October 2016). "The Violent Sleep of Reason - Meshuggah". Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  12. ^ Calum Slingerland. Meshuggah The Violent Sleep of Reason. Exclaim!. Published Oct 05, 2016.
  13. ^ Kerrang! October 15, 2016. page 52.
  14. ^ Ulrey, Jeremy (6 October 2016). "Album review : Meshuggah The Violent Sleep of Reason". Metal Injection. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  15. ^ a b c Frank, Max (5 October 2016). "Review: Meshuggah Separate the Kids from the Grown-Ups on 'The Violent Sleep of Reason'". MetalSucks. Retrieved 6 October 2016.
  16. ^ a b Begrand, Adrien (October 2016). "Messhugah: 'The Violent Sleep Of Reason'". Terrorizer. Miranda Yardley (275): 58. ISSN 1350-6978.
  17. ^ Andonov, Stefan (October 12, 2016). Prog Sphere Retrieved 2016-12-14. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "25 artists up for best independent album of the year in Europe". IMPALA. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  19. ^ Lynch, Joe. "Grammys 2018: See the Complete List of Nominees". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  20. ^ "Metal Injection Writers' Overall Top 20 Albums of 2016". Metal Injection. January 4, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
  21. ^ "20 Best Metal Albums of 2016". Loudwire. December 8, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  22. ^ "20 Best Metal Albums of 2016". Rolling Stone. December 9, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  23. ^
  24. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason". Hung Medien. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  25. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  26. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  27. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  28. ^ "Meshuggah Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  29. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  30. ^ "Meshuggah: The Violent Sleep of Reason" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 16 October 2016.
  31. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums Fusionnes - SNEP (Week 41, 2016)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  32. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  33. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – 2016. 40. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  34. ^ "Album – Classifica settimanale WK 41 (dal 2016-10-07 al 2016-10-13)" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  35. ^ "NZ Heatseekers Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  36. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  37. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  38. ^ " – Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason". Hung Medien. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  39. ^ "Meshuggah | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  40. ^ "Meshuggah Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 October 2016.

Further reading

  • MESHUGGAH: 'The Violent Sleep Of Reason' Album Details Revealed.
  • Meshuggah Announce New Album, 'The Violent Sleep of Reason'. Revolver
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