Featuring a type of Thrash Metal with primitive Death like tendencies, Meshuggah (a word from hebrew for "crazy") managed to become known as a Swiss extreme Metal band of some minor fame despite remaining unsigned with their first several albums. The band was formed by guitarist Jens Kidman. The band recorded several demos before Kidman left to form Calipash, with guitarist Thordendal, bassist Peter Nordin and drummer Niklas Lundgren. Soon later, they decided to re-claim the old name.
On February 3, 1989, the band released a self-titled, three-song EP (but commonly became known as Psykisk Testbild; translation: "Psychological Test-Picture").
After replacing drummer Niklas Lundgren with Tomas Haake in 1990, the band signed a with German label' Nuclear Blast' to record their debut full-length album, Contradictions Collapse (1991); the album was to originally be titled "(All this because of) Greed". The album received positive reviews, but was not a commercial success.
Kidman then decided to concentrate on vocals, and rhythm guitarist Marten Hagstrom, who had already played in a band with Haake when they were in sixth grade, was recruited. The new lineup recorded the EP None (1995), with a Japanese version also released, including lyrics printed in Japanese.
During this period, Thordendal, who was working as a carpenter, severed the tip of his left middle finger, while Haake injured his hand in a grinder accident. As a result, the band was unable to perform for several months. Thordendal's fingertip was later reattached; he went on to make a full recovery. The Selfcaged EP was recorded in April and May 1994, but its release was delayed to later in 1995 due to the accidents.
Destroy Erase Improve was released in July 1995, with positive response from critics.
The EP The True Human Design was recorded and released in late 1997. It contained one new song entitled Sane, and one live and two alternate versions of Destroy Erase Improve's opening track Future Breed Machine.
Hielm officially joined the band in January 1998 after more than two years as a session member. 'Nuclear Blast' re-released Contradictions Collapse with the addition of songs from the None EP.
In early 1999, the band joined Slayer on their U.S. tour.
A collection of demos (from the Psykisk Testbild EP), remixes and unreleased songs from the Chaosphere sessions were released as the Rare Trax album.
The album Nothing was released in August 2002, selling 6,525 copies during its first week in the US and reaching No. 165 on the Billboard 200. With this album, Meshuggah became the first band in the history of 'Nuclear Blast Records' to crack the Billboard 200 and also became the first band signed to 'Nuclear Blast' to be reviewed in Rolling Stone magazine. The CD booklet of Nothing has no liner notes, lyrics, or credits, only a hint of one word: "ingenting", which is Swedish for nothing.
In February 2004, bassist Dick Lovgren joined. The band then recorded and released the I EP, which contains a single, 21-minute track, released on 'Fractured Transmitter Records'.
Catch Thirtythree then came in 2005.
A remixed and remastered version of Nothing with rerecorded guitars was released in a custom-shaped slipcase featuring a three-dimensional hologram card on October 31, 2006.
The next album, obZen reached No. 59 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 11,400 U.S. copies in its first week of release and 50,000 copies after six months.
Koloss, the follow-up, was released on March 23, 2012, with The Violent Sleep of Reason then coming in 2016.