Meshuggah have triumphantly returned to Australian shores for the first time in four years. Touting a new album, an upgraded light show and more powerful equipment than ever before, the Swedish extreme metal band proved that it was well worth the wait.
Aussie deathcore frontrunners and Meshuggah label mates Thy Art Is Murder were on support duties. Probably the best fit that could have been booked; there are a lot of similarities between Thy Art is Murder’s guitar sound and the tones used on Meshuggah’s latest opus The Violent Sleep of Reason. Relentless blast beats, chugs and riffs make a thundering foundation for vocalist CJ McMahon to scream over. After his year and a half hiatus from the band to regain control of his life, there is a new air of confidence surrounding him and the band as they tore through some of their best songs: ‘The Purest Strain of Hate’, ‘Dead Sun’ and ‘Reign of Darkness’. Jens Kidman and Tomas Haake could even be seen watching from a balcony.
The stage is set with massive banners depicting the artwork from The Violent Sleep of Reason. Meshuggah walk on stage doused in shadows, before bursting into ‘Clockworks’. They positively explode into action. Marten Hagstrom and Dick Lovgren chug heavily over a syncopated drum rhythm from Tomas Haake that combines the hands and feet. Vocalist Jens Kidman has the voice of a machine, maintaining his gruff staccato intonation throughout. Without so much as a pause, Meshuggah segue into ‘Born in Dissonance’, also from the new album. Their ability to compose creative grooves hasn’t faltered in their 25-year-career.
Jens greets the crowd momentarily before ripping into ‘Perpetual Black Second’, signalling the first of many insane guitar solos from Frederik Thordendal. The band are cast as silhouettes beneath the vast array of lights and lasers that match each note perfectly. Also performing ‘Sane’ and ‘The Demon’s Name is Surveillance’, the first acts of their show come on super strong. ‘Stengah’ is a mid-set highlight, as it wasn’t on the set list of their last Aussie run. Meshuggah are so tight live; the precision and accuracy are astounding.
Moving on to play ‘Nostrum’, also from their latest album, this song is clearly the peak of their new material. Tomas Haake has pushed new ground, adding more flair and ghost notes than one would think humanly possible—you might think they perform in darkness so that other drummers can’t steal his grooves. Just when you think Meshuggah’s tones couldn’t get any heavier, it does! Moving straight into ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’, this track continues to change direction so haphazardly, defying traditional musical conventions. The song has plenty of similarities with ‘Dancers to a Discordant System’—the 10-minute epic that we were treated to straight after.
Also performing ‘Lethargica’, ‘Do Not Look Down’ and ‘Bleed’, Meshuggah made sure to perform a few tracks across each era of their existence, continuing to gobsmack the audience at every turn. Quickly departing the stage and returning for an encore of ‘Demiurge’ and ‘Future Breed Machine’, it’s impossible to say that any fan could be even slightly disappointed by this world class show and production.
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