Meshuggah is an extreme Metal band from Sweden, formed in 1987. They have established an individual and extremely recognizable music style: complex, polymetered song structures and polyrhythms. They were labeled as one of the ten most important hard and heavy bands by Rolling Stone and as the most important band in metal by Alternative Press (source).
This post is about the cover and artwork of their 2005 release Catch 33. Lyrically the album is centered around different kinds of paradoxes. The artwork was done by Meshuggah’s drummer Tomas Haake (who defines Meshuggah’s unique style with his extraordinary drum techniques).
But for Symmetal the most fascinating fact about the release is the cover artwork. Here we’ve got a very special kind of symmetry: a rotational symmetry. An object that looks the same after a certain amount of rotation. Or to be more precise, this artwork shows a Triskelion. One object with three shapes and a threefold rotational symmetry. And if that’s not enough visual nerdery the artwork also shows an interpretation of an Ouroboros. Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. The name originates from within Greek language meaning “tail” and “eating”, thus “he who eats the tail”. So if we would be precise it’s not an Ouroboros as the cover depicts three snakes in a row eating each others tail. But following their bodies they still form one shape. It’s like a more sophisticated version of the Human Centipede.
Ouroboros stand for the circle of life and its renewal. But in this case I think that this interpretation stands for the Catch 22. A problem that creates another problem, which ultimately leads back to the original problem.
Not only do I love the music of Meshuggah but the details and concepts of their artwork. And the fact that Tomas Haake did this next to inventing a signature drum technique, co-developing an innovative drum computer and being a bad-ass metalhead is sheer amazing.