From the December 2016 issue of DRUM!  | Text And Transcriptions By Andy Ziker | Video Lesson By Nate Brown

The new release from Meshuggah, The Violent Sleep Of Reason, shows why Tomas Haake is responsible for a great deal of the band’s distinctive sound. He brims with power, fury, and boundless energy, but also effortlessly commands dynamics, orchestration, syncopation, and head-scratching time signatures.


A three-note pick up leads us into three measures of 15/8 and one measure of 19/8. Haake makes these odd time signatures feel natural by using the same three notes (as the pick up) to lead from one measure to the next. He generates three-stroke ruffs between double bass and crash/bass drum, and paradiddle variations between bass drum and snare.


This eight-measure syncopated phrase (repeated twice over this 16-bar passage) — played by drums, bass, and guitar — leaves us feeling disoriented, even though the entire passage is in 4/4 and includes a consistent backbeat. Haake blurs the lines by displacing two- and three-note double bass groupings and using over-the-bar, off-beat crash licks in measures four and five and twelve and thirteen. Things don’t fully settle down until the crash on beat 4 of the last measure.


2-grooveanalysis-by-the-ton-tomas-haake“By The Ton”

These eight measures from the first verse read like a Frank Zappa audition sheet. Haake and his guitar/bass bandmates again play these rhythms together, exploring permutations of quarters, eighths, sixteenths, and thirty-seconds. Haake seems especially fond of the dotted sixteenth/dotted sixteenth/sixteenth rhythm and crash hits on the e and the ah. Check out how the thirty-second-note triplet tom lick in the last measure seems to appear out of thin air.

4-grooveanalysis-our-rage-wont-die-tomas-haake“Our Rage Won’t Die”

Haake plays double and single bass drum between snare/China cymbal hits. We begin to feel a little uneasy again because of the way downbeats are emphasized in one measure (or half of a measure) and offbeats in the next.

Tomas Haake: Meshuggah Man