This was my first gig at Corporation in some time, and with it being up against what turned out to be a surprisingly easy win for the England national Football Team, it perhaps wasn’t as busy as might have been expected. Still, after two cancellations in the past year, it was nice to finally get the opportunity to see Meshuggah live.
There was only the one support act, Trigger The Bloodshed, who initially were playing to a somewhat sparse crowd. It was also obvious from the start that this was one of the youngest bands I’ve seen onstage in a long while. And while they were very good at throwing the right shapes on stage, and also technically very good, it was a shame that it sounded so unoriginal, like they had been studying their heroes in great detail. So we had elements of Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth and vocals almost straight out of Lamb of God. Some nice ideas, but really folks, please get a sound of your own.
A sound of their own is certainly something that Meshuggah have. No-one sounds like these guys – who were astounding on almost every level. As they took to the stage and ripped into what I think was Shed (the sound was a bit muddy to start with, but quickly became much clearer), it was amazing watching the jaw-dropping technicality that this band possess, as the rhythms constantly changed like a slithering snake across the ground, and with all of the band keeping perfectly in – or out, in some cases – of time with each other. In fact, they were probably one of the tightest bands live I’ve ever seen. As the sound became clearer – in particular for the staggering roar of Bleed from recent album obZen, their live power became even clearer. Not afraid to fuck with the studio arrangements of their songs – Soul Burn (at least, I’m informed it was, and it was introduced as that) was much changed from the original, and the brutal attack of Combustion was similarly amended but not without reducing the power.
The set managed to cover just about all of their career, too – not afraid to delve deep into their back catalogue as well as remembering that they have a new-ish album to promote. So we also got Pravus from the newest release (still the pinnacle of the new album, amongst many contenders), while tracks like Stengah and the rapturously received Rational Gaze kept those wanting older stuff happy. The real highlights of the night, though, were the ultra-complex Straws Pulled at Random (it’s always fun watching people trying to nod along to tracks in a completely alien time signature to the norm!), and then closing with a savage and stretched-out Future Breed Machine that had the by-now-full room baying for more. Unfortunately those calls for an encore went unheeded, that appeared to have left a number of fans unhappy, but an hour of tense, unpredictable rhythms and some of the best, most original and most technical metal there is was more than enough for me.
Meshuggah, even after fifteen-years-plus of being an active band, are still peerless innovators that are driving metal forward into still uncharted territories. Many bands have tried to sound like this, but frankly no-one comes close, and I have no doubt that the band will continue to be some way ahead of the field as long as they keep releasing material. There are still gigs left on the tour in the UK – if you get the chance, go and see these masters at work.