When these metal Juggernauts from Sweden come to town, be prepared for devastation of epic proportions.
There are a staggering amount of bands these days that just sound the same, especially when it comes to extreme metal. The bands that can etch out a new sound, break a genre, or present some sort of avant-garde way of song creation, are the ones that usually stand-out and survive. One such band that has been around for close to 33 years is Meshuggah who have inspired many genres, one being Djent which is a guitar style that has inspired many modern metal bands today. Not only that, their structure has been also termed as complex math metal with a tonne of groove and ambiance mixed with jagged vocals.
Meshuggah are a pretty solid unit and have not had much in the way of band changes at in the last 20 years We still have Jens Kidman (vocals), Fredrik Thordendal (lead guitar), Marten Hagström (rhythm guitar), Dick Lövgren (bass) and Tomas Haake (drums). Since 1991, they have released 9 incredible albums to date and produced a marvelous new album in 2022 called Immutable. I can’t wait to hear a few tracks from in tonight, heck, I’d wouldn’t be unhappy if they played the entire album.
After 5 long years absence from Vancouver, they have made a tour stop at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre with support from White Chapel and veterans In Flames. Many of us in the Pacific Northwest have been looking forward to this show since it was announced back in July. This is the largest facility I have seen them play in Vancouver as in years past they have played at the Commodore Ballroom or the Croatian Cultural Centre (remember that debacle in 2008 when the tour bus arrived late?) .
Tonight, this appears to be a real levelling up for this band. Playing in front of the largest crowd they have seen in Vancouver, am thinking around 3500 people, but it’s not sold out either, which is ghastly. No fault of the venue however, I’ve seen a couple shows this year at Doug Mitchell and I am VERY impressed how well things work at this facility. Let me mention the parkade, which is convenient next to the building. You’d think that’s no big deal, but parking at the other venues is a hassle. All in all, those at Doug Mitchell are an extremely well organized group with the entire concert experience and hope to see more of these shows there.
Meshuggah have a really nice stage setup, and its likely not much different from what you see in the live videos they produce with all 4 of them spread-out evenly across the stage about 15 feet apart, with Tomas in the middle on a riser. They start off with my favorite song from Immutable with “Broken Cog”, a thunderous beginning that pounds your chest. Tomas Haake is first visible to us with lights on him, whilst the other 4 start near the back end of the stage in the dark as Jens whispers through the first part of the song. Then half way, it gets heavy and the crowd is headbanging their way through the rest of the song. I will tell you that they play this song EXACLTY how it is on the album.
The sound is absolutely PERFECT and utterly sonic as they move to song 2 with “Rational Gaze” from the 2002 Nothing album. Jens vocal phrasing is absolutely bang on to anything you have heard from the albums, you’d think it would be torn apart after all these years but he sounds as vicious as ever. On the actual Nothing album, “Rational Gaze” is song 2, and song 3 is “Perpetual Black Second” and that is logically next for song 3 at the show too.
Yes, the mosh pit is moving, as they advance on to “Electric Red” from Obzen and there after the incredible “Born of Dissonance”. At that point I was quickly on my way to the merch table only to find the fully autographed Immutable album (80$ Canadian) was sold out. I was so bummed out and held back my tears wondering how I can get someone from another city to get a copy for me!
I got back to the floor and watched song 6 “Ligature Marks” from that new Immutable album. Tomas’s drumming is so incredible; I can only just stand there and stare at this spectacle. I have been to a lot of shows in 2023, but this one is completely mind-blowing with the sound and performance. I was really disappointed with the sound from White Chapel’s, prior to In Flames so I was wondering how Meshuggah was going to be. You won’t be disappointed, believe me.
The lighting was fantastic too with lights blasting in all directions. No big screens in the back however, just a cool Immutable themed backdrop, but it was all they need as Song 7 was “The Abysmal Eye”, which is the 3rd and last played from Immutable tonight.
No in-between song banter from these guys, they don’t have time for that as they continue with the Catch Thirtythree portion of the show. Here we get a taped piece of the simple creepy guitar twangs from “Mind’s Mirrors” that gradually builds the suspense, then a highly distorted guitar strum that is accompanied by a white flash of light at the audience, much like a “wake up”” moment. They then roar into “In Death – Is Life” and thereafter song 9 with “In Death – Is Death. Very effective 3 songs, as this was the peak moment for slamming and moshing at this point.
Song 10 “Humiliative”, and the end of the set which is a super deep cut from the Japanese version Destroy Erase Improve album from 1995. I don’t recall them ever playing that one in Vancouver before.
They take a break and fans want more obviously, so we get “Bleed” from the Obzen album, which is characterized by frantic guitar playing as well as Tomas’s drumming, which is real knee slapper. Along with that sensational solo that stops the train and Thordendal continues with a real shredder that matches the album 100%. The very last song is “Demiurge” from 2012’s opus Koloss. If you wanted one more sip from the Djent glass, this definitely satisfied your thirst.
OMG what a banger of a show this was! DON’T miss this one! Do I need to say how fantastic the performance was? I know these guys are extremely picky with how guitars and everything sounds and believe me, they knocked it out of the park with the well thought out setlist. Could I have heard “Future Breed Machine”, certainly, but they have so many well constructed songs with intense depth that we just need to hear live. Overall, if you have a ticket on this tour, be prepared to listen to one of the best shows you will experience in 2023.