Meshuggah was formed in 1987 in Umeå, Sweden. At this time the line-up was Fredrik Thordendal – guitars, Jens Kidman – vocals, Johan Sjögren – guitars, Per Sjögren – drums and Jörgen Lindmark – bass. Jens Kidman soon left the band and started the band Calipash with bassist Peter Nordin, drummer Niclas Lundgren and guitarist Torbjörn Granström.
Johan Sjögren left Meshuggah in -88 and guitarist Jonas Lindberg took his place in the band… Fredrik Thordendal found Calipash’s music more in line with what he wanted to do and so left the band (leading to the dissolution of the band, as this line-up). Fredrik kind of “took” the Meshuggah band name with him as he joined forces with “Calipash” and they went under the Meshuggah name from then on… During the early stages of the now “reformed” Meshuggah – Torbjörn Granström left the band.
At the time of the debut EP “Psykisk Testbild” in -89, the line-up was: Fredrik Thordendal – guitars and vocals, Jens Kidman – guitars and vocals, Niclas Lundgren – drums and Peter Nordin on bass.
In late -89 drummer Niclas Lundgren decided to leave the band.
Tomas Haake joined on drums in -90, before Meshuggah recorded their first LP, “Contradictions Collapse” which was released in 1991. The band had during -90 signed a record deal with the German record label Nuclear Blast.
Between this record and the next one, the band had a couple unfortunate accidents that forced the band to remain silent for the rest of -91 and a good part of -92. Fredrik Thordendal cut off the tip of his left middle finger at work. The fingertip was sewn back on, and with a fair degree of re-learning and practising he regained his abilities and skill within a year or so. Tomas Haake also had a work-related hand injury that same year, where he cut up three fingers on his right hand in a wood grinder of sorts. Several months passed without practice or rehearsals.
Another big change also happened during -92, where guitarist/vocalist Jens Kidman decided to focus on the vocals and at the end of -92, beginning of -93 he left his guitar duties over to Mårten Hagström.
Hagström was earlier in the band Barophobia with drummer Tomas Haake and Mårten and Tomas had been playing together in different settings since back when they were in the sixth grade!
The new lineup recorded the EP “None” in 1994. The EP “Selfcaged” – which was more of a demo for the upcoming album “Destroy Erase Improve”, was recorded in April and May 1994 and though not really meant to be an official release, NB decided to release it as a “teaser” for the coming album.
January 1995 saw the band returning to the public, when they left off for a short European tour organized by the record-label. Shortly after returning back home they recorded the album “Destroy Erase Improve,” and then they were off again on a nine week European tour supporting the American band Machine Head.
Halfway through this tour, bassist Peter Nordin became ill and developed problems with the balance nerve in his inner ear. He was chronically dizzy, and in a constant sense of vertigo. He had to go back home to Sweden to be hospitalized, leaving the band on tour without a bassist. The bassist Adam of Machine Head offered to help out, but Meshuggah decided to try out as a four-man band again. At some shows, Fredrik played the bass through his guitar rig, at others they went with just two guitars (with Mårten playing through a pitch shifter, shifted one octave down). When Fredrik handled the bass he also played his leads on it.
Destroy Erase Improve was released in May 1995, this time with more proper marketing by the record label. In the autumn of 1995, they did a short tour with Swedish band Clawfinger throughout Scandinavia and Germany. The first couple of shows were done without a bassist – Peter Nordin had now left the band due in parts to his illness but also for other personal reasons. A new bassist joined the band, without ever rehearsing with Meshuggah, he met up with the boys before a show in Hamburg, and ended up playing with the band from then on; this was Gustaf Hielm (formerly of Charta 77). That fall, Meshuggah also went on a month-long European tour with Hypocrisy.
During 1996 Fredrik was busy working on his solo album. This album “Sol Niger Within” was released in March through UAE in Scandinavia, and in Japan in April. Fredrik also appeared on the debut album of Swedish “super-duo” Mats & Morgan. Meshuggah recorded a demo in the summer. Some the tracks on this demo later ended up on the “Rare Trax” release of -2001…
In May of -97, the band relocated to Stockholm to live closer to their management, bookers and the record industry in general. A new EP was recorded, with one new track, “Sane”.. and three remix versions of the opening track “Future Breed Machine”, from their latest album, “Destroy Erase Improve”. The EP “The True Human Design” was released that fall after numerous delays. Around the same time, Fredrik’s solo album, Sol Niger Within, was released in the USA. Towards the end of -97, the planning and writing of the next album started.
Gustaf Hielm joined the band as a permanent member in January 1998 after more than two years as a session member. The recording of Meshuggah’s next album “Chaosphere” started around may of -98. Immediately after recording the album, the guys went to the USA for a short tour. The album Chaosphere, showing a seemingly faster and more aggressive Meshuggah was released in November -98.
Meshuggah did a thorough tour of Scandinavia and northern Europe with Entombed right after the album was released. In 1999 Meshuggah did their first “proper” U.S tour, supporting the mighty Slayer for 6 weeks. The new album and the live appearances got them a lot of good press in the USA. While waiting for the coming fullength release, the fans could enjoy the “Rare Trax” album, a collection of demos and impossible-to-find recordings, like the -89, 3-song EP “Psykisk Testbild” among others. This album took nearly a year to be released and wasn’t available until the fall of 2001.
For the next U.S tour, Meshuggah supported Tool for a three week run, in the fall of 2001. In March of 2002, Meshuggah announced the title for their next album – “Nothing”. The Nothing tracks were first demo-recorded in Meshuggah’s home studios, late -2001 through april -2002. The recording of the actual album started in May of 2002, and was finished in 5-6 weeks. Again the guys went to the U.S immediately after finishing the record – to do the Ozzfest tour.
The album “Nothing” was released in August -2002 and it showed a Meshuggah focusing more on groove and a lower/growlier production. With the new addition of 8-string guitars, this album brought a new dimension to the “Meshuggah sound”. Following the release, Meshuggah once again went on tour with Tool in the USA at the end of 2002. This time for 8 weeks.
Meshuggah were busy playing different tours promoting the NOTHING album until late -2003/early -2004 and around this time Gustaf Hielm parted with the band. Early -2004, Meshuggah again entered the studio to record the 21 minute song later to be named “I”.
This release was different in several aspects; it was not released on Nuclear Blast but instead on the small Cleveland, OH based label Fractured Transmitter Records. Meshuggah’s “I” was the first release for this label owned/started by Jason Popson, previously vocalist/songwriter for the band Mushroomhead. The EP “I” was also more experimental in the sense that it’s one continuous piece of music, where Meshuggah venture through influences from past to present, creating one heavy and disturbingly eerie piece of music. “I” was also written/recorded as a “random”, rhythmically non-structured piece. Drums were recorded “at random” and once pieced together into a continous 21 minute “drumtrack” – the guitars were “charted out” and recorded bar by bar!
With Gustav now no longer in the band, Meshuggah needed to find a new bassplayer and even though they auditioned 4-5 bassplayers from the Stockholm area, they didn’t feel that they had found “their man” among these – Instead, through mutual friends in the band Darkane – Christofer Malmström and Peter Wildoer suggested Meshuggah should talk to Dick Lövgren, formerly of bands Time Requiem, Armageddon, Last Tribe and Cromlech. Dick was also a touring “stand in” bassplayer with In Flames and Arch Enemy for a few tours. Meshuggah met with Dick and after a first rehearsal, Meshuggah instantly knew they had found the “right guy for the job”!
With the 2005 release “Catch Thirtythree”, Meshuggah showed a new experimental side of the band, with this guitar driven, trance-inducing, one continuous piece of music clocking in at 47 minutes! As “Catch Thirtythree” was somewhat of an “experimental piece” Meshuggah only did a few tours in support of this album. Even so, they got the Metal Hammer Award for “Best Underground Band 2005”.
In the fall of 2007, Meshuggah started writing their coming album, later named “obZen”. On this album, Meshuggah mixes influences from their past to present (and future it seems).
At the release of “obZen”, in March of 2008, the album immediately got a lot of attention and entered the U.S billboard at place 59 for the first week’s sales. This album has more dynamics and is differenciating more, both in tempos and vibes of the different songs, compared to previous albums. This is also, according to the band, something they really went for when writing the album. To many, the most memorable “obZen” song and in some ways probably the most extreme Meshuggah track to date, “Bleed” was also made a video for. This video, with its scary and twisted imagery, also received a lot of accolades and even won a “metal video of the year” award. The video was written and directed by Ian McFarland/Killswitch TV.
Ian McFarland has also, at the time of this bio being written, recorded several live shows with the band and the plan is to have the first ever Meshuggah Live DVD released in early -2010.