Being a huge fan of the original release of Nothing, I was a bit skeptical of these new remix of the album. Packaging it with a DVD and a hologram card made me even more skeptical. To some extent, this was well founded.
Obviously, it’s the same record, but not really. There were a TON of subteleties added by the effect of having a really low-tuned, floppy set of 7 stringed guitars when making the record, as opposed to 8 strings designed for the F tuning…honestly, it sounded a lot more evil, wicked, and harsh. This harshness, and synthetic guitar sound really stood the album apart from the banal nu-metal coming out around that time. The whole sound was new, different, and disturbing to listen to. The muddiness, floppiness, and sludge just made it more interesting to listen to, if not more discernable.
With the reissue, the guitars are crisp, clear, and have a lost all of those subtleties. In their defense, the new version sounds HUGE, much heavier and denser, but not darker. You can hear the notes and transitions a lot better, but some of the mistakes and flops are lost, which made the album very chaotic. Two major points is the second riff in “Stengah”, which has none of the little atmospheric twangs, and the transition from clean to heavy in “Obsidian” is sudden, without that great little feedback to pull you into the Hell about to be unleashed.
The vocals are vastly improved. Hellish. Jens sounds like a daemon. Although I’m a fan of DFH and use it extensively, the sampled drums don’t sound all that great. The snare is too sharp, without resonance. The cymbals are a little too low, and too compressed. If you lower the cymbals in the mix, it makes the guitars seem bigger, but lowers the heaviness of the whole sound.
This record is really designed for two people…ravenous Meshuggah fans who will buy anything, and people fascinated with audio production. I’m a little from column A, mostly column B (I hope, anyway). If you’re into audio, you’ll appreciate some of the techniques and differences, but this reissue was pretty much a letdown. The original Nothing is just more dynamic, sludgier, heavier, more menacing. It’s great to hear these two interpretations side by side, and I’m not urging you not to buy this, but be wary unless you have the extra $20 laying around.