If the early eighties gave us the early chug of thrash metal, Bleed is the next logical step – it wouldn’t have flown before Metallica and Slayer, but then it barely flies now – Meshuggah aren’t exactly a mainstream success, and more’s the pity. Regardless, they’ve built up a powerhouse of a reputation in metal circles for their influence and raw technical skills.
The Haunted were opening for Meshuggah – hailing from the same country but with perhaps a more traditional thrash sound, they were a solid opener. Pretty straightforward musically relative to what was coming up with Meshuggah, but still more than able to get the crowd moving, and their sound has a bit of hardcore in it that kept things interesting. Truth be told, by the time they wrapped up with Hate Song you’d have been forgiven for wondering if Meshuggah were going to be left sounding clinical in comparison; they have a pretty tight sound.
That said, once Meshuggah hit the stage it was clear that there was nothing to worry about. The precision and technical skill you’d expect are still there, but the energy behind them change the feeling entirely. The live atmosphere no doubt helps, but their latest CD simply doesn’t capture the energy of their sound like it probably should.
Of course, that tight Meshuggah sound does come at a cost performance-wise; as you’d expect, Thordendal and Lovgren aren’t running around on the stage – they have riffs to belt out and that’s the priority. Kidman makes up for that to a point, looming out of the mists (or machine fog) like an elder god of chug*, but one of the big supporting acts for the sound was the light show. Props to whoever put the show together and was setting the lights off, because they were absolutely nailing the sync with chords bursts and timing shifts. The end result was much like the lighting in the video for Clockworks; like a brief opportunity to possibly see their music like a synesthete.
Meshuggah aren’t a big encore band, much in the same way that Kidman was not a big talker. Still, good man – they had music to get on with, and that’s exactly what they did. Great concert from the perspective of a newbie to their library, and definitely worth chasing down next time they’re in town.
(*I stole that from a friend, sorry Chris.)