Meshuggah + Make Way For Man @ Metropolis Fremantle 17/03/17 (Live Review)
Meshuggah are celebrating thirty years of creating music in 2017 and showing no signs of ageing. Thanks to the success of their eighth studio album (released under long-time-faithful independent Nuclear Blast in October last year), Meshuggah have embarked on a world tour that has taken them throughout Europe and U.S for the past 5 months. In what was their first appearance down under in four years, the Swedish metal veterans did not disappoint a testosterone fuelled crowd of head-bangers at Metropolis Fremantle on Friday night.
Fans of Meshuggah might already know the kind of influence the band has leveraged in the extreme underground music genre, as they are credited as one the first bands to introduce “djent” as a sub-genre of progressive metal based on the particular style used by guitarist Fredrik Thordendal. This influence has been further established by other metal artists such as Misha Mansoor (Periphery) and British band Monuments, whom incorporate similar rhythmic complexities at the hands of Meshuggah from the early 2000s. The band since have continued to pave the way for progressive metal, inspiring newer artists with a carefully articulated style and consequently influencing music of their own genre into the sound that it is today.
For others who are unfamiliar, Meshuggah might sound more or less like a droning wall of sound. But beneath the “noise” lies a structure of clever tempos and precision time signatures that are used to break the mould of typical metal music, and insinuates a progressive modulation that is both self-assured and unpredictable. The type of sound that rallies the masses into constant disorganised trashing and frequent outbreaks in circle pits. It’s okay to not quite understand the niche music Meshuggah pioneered, but it cannot be discredited. How could anybody not be impressed by Thordendal‘s 8-string guitar wielding or the systematic double-kicks from drummer Tomas Haake? It’s a wonder either of them remember how to play songs with such intense structure.
Perth fans missed out on national support Thy Art Is Murder and were instead acquainted with locals Make Way For Man, whom warmed the crowd adequately before the headliner began their set ahead of schedule. Announcing themselves with a long-winded and eerie introduction, Meshuggah appeared on stage before a gigantic backdrop featuring artwork from The Violent Sleep Of Reason (2016) before launching into the first track off the same album; Clockworks.
For 90 minutes fans were treated to an extensive collection of songs cataloguing from the past three decades, including Do Not Look Down, Dancers to a Discordant System and fan-favourite Bleed, prompting a chant of the band’s name at the conclusion of the song. The set was accompanied by an erratic (but fitting) light show, featuring bold, epileptic flashes and bright green laser beams, and many punters were marvelled at the polyrhythmic abilities of each musician that gave an overall sound crushing performance.
“Thank you for having us back,” vocalist Jens Kidman called out with his thick Swede accent. Asides this one gesture, the artist to audience engagement was limited. Often front barrier fanatics would stretch their arms across the gap, hoping to grasp Kidman‘s hand while he edged around the foot of the stage. But no such thing happened, and fans were left with a strictly musical performance with no small talk and no encore. A lack of stage diving and relaxed security were a little disappointing for a gig of this calibre, but an older crowd is likely to explain this. In general the concert was an interesting insight into the heavy metal scene, but perhaps one this reviewer will steer clear from in the future now that metal masterminds Meshuggah have been crossed off the list.
Review by Catherine Parrish