It’s hard to criticise a band that are extremely dedicated to their craft but in certain cases, a flawless performance can be at the expense of an enjoyable one.
With a career spanning over twenty-five years, Meshuggah has managed to pick up a fan or two along the way and it’s no surprise on their first ever visit to Belfast, the Limelight is full to capacity. Regarded as pioneers in the metal community for their extreme style of progressive and technical metal, the band has garnered a cult-like following and in turn inspired a genre in itself; djent.
As a band who clearly take great consideration in every element of their music, Meshuggah has also been known to hand selected bands to open their shows, this time around taking fellow Swedes and close friends The Haunted out on an eight-date UK and Ireland run. Coming on stage merely fifteen minutes after the doors opened ultimately led to a sparse crowd witnessing the first few songs of The Haunted’s set. Nonetheless, vocalist Marco Aro blasted through the numbers for the lucky few in attendance and set the bar high for a night of Scandinavian metal. With a steady feed of fans packing the venue, the band were in full flow for classics such as ‘Bury Your Dead‘ and ‘Hate Song’, offering a satisfactory starter for the main course to come.
The thirty-minute changeover started like a military operation. From the breakdown of The Haunted’s gear to the introduction and tweaking of Meshuggah’s backline, it’s obvious that Meshuggah has worked with this team for the majority of their career. It’s not by chance that Meshuggah has built a reputation for their ferocious live sound and it’s clear a crew of individuals make sure that sound is perfect every night.
As the clock struck eight and the final duties were being tended to, pints etc, the band took to the stage for what would be one hundred minutes of uninterrupted Meshuggah. Kicking off with the first two tracks from recently released The Violent Sleep of Reason, the band unleash a pounding wall of noise that set the tone for the night ahead. Accompanying each song was a technical and mesmerising light show. Lazer beams bounced across the room to the polyrhythmic changes of each song, at times replicating sparks from an angle grinder.
As they progressed through a career spanning set, the almost flawless performance became clinical to the point of overkill. While one can commend the faultless musicianship of each member on stage, visually each process appeared separate from the other and the intricate performances appeared so consuming that it left no time to engage with the crowd. With that said, the very nature of the band’s music calls for utter dedication with no room for error and in many respects, they are a musician’s band, their capabilities dazzle those that wish to emulate them.For a mere mortal like myself who has never picked up a guitar or drumstick in my life, it was like trying to find a rhythm in morse code.
Unsurprisingly very few in attendance seemed to feel that way and were possessed by the musical marathon in front of them. The appreciation and fandom for the men on stage was worship like, occupied and transfixed by the genius that was unfolding.
The first words of the night came seventy-five minutes in as Jens Kidman thanked the Belfast crowd for coming out, announcing the pummelling ‘Bleed‘ to end their set. While a satisfied few decided to call it a night, the majority stayed on for the inevitable encore; a duo of ‘Demiurge‘ from Koloss and Destroy Erase Improve opener ‘Future Breed Machine.’