Meshuggah

support The Interbeing
author AP date 13/12/14 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

The stage at Amager Bio is set for a celebratory occasion tonight, with Swedish mad geniuses and benders of time Meshuggah marking their 25th Anniversary - and on a Saturday. This is a band guaranteed to muster up an enthralling performance when beheld in an indoor setting, so on paper there is little chance of disappointment. Arriving there, it is heartwarming to see that upgrading the band to a higher capacity venue (since last time) has mattered none: though sold out, the place is rammed with people, and the atmosphere is as jovial as it should be on a weekend.

All photos by Peter Troest

The Interbeing

Choosing a local support act to open the proceedings for Meshuggah must not have required much thought - tech-/industrial metal fusionists The Interbeing are the obvious choice given both the style of their music, and the experience they possess. The Copenhagen based five piece is not blessed with a favourable mix, the percussion and bass notes occupying far too much of the soundscape for the intricacies of the band’s music to properly shine through. With the correct earplugs pressed in with precision, this impression improves somewhat, allowing the second of the two new tracks aired upfront, “Celestial Flames”, to divulge at least some of the detail within its thrash fuelled core. But as easy on the ear as these songs are, they continue, for me, to be symptomatic of the problems that haunt The Interbeing’s music in general - namely that it tends to be loaded with individually memorable parts, but as a whole, the songs fall comfortably short of the extraordinary.

It is frustrating because as the opening track to the new album (the details for which are yet to have been announced) proves, The Interbeing are perfectly capable of reaching that level when the punishing, djenty foundation, eerie electronic samples and clean sung choruses are struck into a delicate balance. Following the familiar “Fields of Grey” & “Shadow Drift”, another sample of what’s coming reinforces the point with intriguing Meshuggah inspired rhythms, and it makes me wonder how, three years in the making, the new material can show signs of inconsistency when the band clearly has the prowess necessary for writing songs this strong. Fortunately, The Interbeing are far from inactive when it comes to their stage presence: by hovering over the audience like some giant, vocalist Dara Toibin seems veiled in authority, while his compatriots, guitarists Boas Segel & Torben Pedersen and bassist Jacob Hansen look to be having the time of their lives, moving their bodies and brandishing their instruments with genuine passion.

It is a fine support set then, though my own musical preferences stand in the way of being awestruck. When it comes to Danish metal, there is no doubt that The Interbeing rank among its trustiest representatives, and, given enough time, it’s a no-brainer that they’ll start penning excellent songs with more consistency than is the case at present.

7

Meshuggah

When Gojira titled one of their songs "The Heaviest Matter in the Universe", I'm certain they were alluding to the musical anomaly that is Meshuggah. Last year, the Swedish technicians masterminded a show here in Copenhagen that went down as one of the best I've ever seen, so needless to say, the expectations for tonight's performance at the larger Amager Bio are nothing short of colossal. Would Meshuggah be able to reproduce the intensity, terror and spectacular production when scaled up to these proportions, or would the concert fall short, like so many of their daytime outdoor appearances at festivals, of its true potential?

They're celebrating their 25th Anniversary as a band this year, and have promised to air a number of songs seldom (some never) heard in the live setting as part of a setlist chronicling their entire history and discography. Immediately signalling a new order to the proceedings than has been the case in recent years when the band's two latest albums, 2008's "obZen" & 2012's "Koloss", have occupied most of the space, Meshuggah launch into it tonight with the classic "Future Breed Machine" off the group's 1995 breakthrough album "Destroy Erase Improve" much to mine and the rest of the crowd’s satisfaction.

Once again enormous applause must be offered to the band’s ‘sixth’ member, light technician Edvard Hansson, whose manual work on the light board forms a crucial part of Meshuggah’s performance. He seems, at times, to know the songs better than the musicians themselves, and as such, not a moment goes by without a display of astounding lights to beef up the band’s extreme intensity. Admittedly, during the thrashier “The Hurt That Finds You First” Meshuggah appear not to be on top of their game, seeming to rely on routine to deliver the track and the following “Do Not Look Down” (both off “Koloss”), but even so the rhythmically flickering lights, not to mention the sheer volume of the amplification, ensure no one is left cold.

The time then comes to explore the rear end of the group’s discography through a duo of tracks written in 1989 and featured on their 1991 debut “Contradictions Collapse”: “Cadaverous Mastication” and “Greed”. Here a sight not often witnessed at Meshuggah concerts is seen, as lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal exchanges his customary 8-string for a mere mortal 6-string axe, although in honesty, the thing is tuned so low the difference is almost negligible. For a long standing fan such as myself, the opportunity to hear the band’s origins aired in a live setting is a revelation, and despite the fact that from an objective standpoint Meshuggah first truly hit their stride during the latter half of their career, the two songs fall seamlessly into place among the other picks tonight.

At this point in the performance, the audience, enraptured no doubt as much by the fact that it is weekend as by the chance to witness this band live, has transformed into a frenzy of banging heads and moshing, and when “Gods of Rapture” from 1994’s “None” EP rolls in, Meshuggah appear energised by the crazed reaction. The track marks the point from whence the performance enters an upward spiral as the five musicians delve into their energy reservoirs, grinding through “Neurotica” and the fierce “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” from 1998’s “Chaosphere” before “Stengah”, and in my opinion one of the most insane metal songs ever written, “Bleed”, mow us down without mercy, with faces literally melting all around in disbelief of the mastery of which Meshuggah show themselves capable. It’s eerie, dark and suffocating, yet with vocalist Jens Kidman’s customary demonic facial contortions and his compatriots’ visible immersion into the music to the point where they seem but puppets to some terrifying force dictating their every move. Just as mad as the music of Meshuggah is, equally deranged and imposing is the way in which they deliver it live - sci-fi horror in tangible form.

The head mashing continues for a further two tracks with the newer “Demiurge” and another pick off the aforementioned “Nothing” album, “Straws Pulled at Random” before Meshuggah exit the stage, leaving the venue darkened for an expected encore. As the eerie ambiance of “Mind’s Mirrors” engulfs the venue leading up to the closing duo off 2005’s “Catch Thirtythree”, “In Death - Is Life” & “In Death - Is Death”; there is no silencing the ecstatic audience and understandably, for what we have witnessed here is extraordinary. Truly, Meshuggah have established themselves as one of the finest live acts in metal right now (indoor, at least) and given the chance, I’d advice anyone with a general interest in the genre to experience this pioneering force first-hand. It’s an epiphany.

9

Setlist:

  • 1. Future Breed Machine
  • 2. obZen
  • 3. The Hurt That Finds You First
  • 4. Do Not Look Down
  • 5. Cadaverous Mastication
  • 6. Greed
  • 7. Gods of Rapture
  • 8. Neurotica
  • 9. New Millennium Cyanide Christ
  • 10. Stengah
  • 11. Bleed
  • 12. Demiurge
  • 13. Straws Pulled at Random

—Encore—

  • 14. Mind’s Mirrors
  • 15. In Death - Is Life
  • 16. In Death - Is Death

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