Progressive metal has exploded in size over the last several years. With the style being incorporated by more and more bands the style and the subsequent djent movement is now populated with a wealth of talented bands. Tracing the roots back, Swedish extreme metal titans MESHUGGAH are often credited with helping drive the style to the masses and on the back of the release of last year’s The Violent Sleep of Reason the band are now bringing their sonic assault to live audiences across the UK. But as the progressive metal scene continues to expand at a unstoppable rate do MESHUGGAH still have what it takes to remain at the top of the pile?
Serving as the only support band for the tour fellow countrymen THE HAUNTED had ample amount of time on stage to leave a lasting impression. Despite the band’s style being more straightforward than MESHUGGAH, THE HAUNTED were able to deliver a performance that oozed groove and bite. The melodies on show from guitarists Ola Englund and Patrik Jensen kept the rhythm swinging hard. At times the groove on show here was infectious, with tracks like D.O.A and 99 leading to a sea of heads banging. From the slick drumming of Adrian Erlandsson, which kept the momentum flowing to Marco Aro’s adrenaline pumping vocal deliveries, the band whipped up a storm throughout their set. Aro, now in his second stint with the band, looked to be having the time of his life with a beaming smile on show as we looked across the waves of heads banging. This summarises THE HAUNTED’s impact perfectly, granted the band lacked the same tenacity and downright aggression to the evening’s headliners, but THE HAUNTED provided a performance that was packed full of fun and groove.
From the sheer colossal impact of opening track Clockworks, the tone of MESHUGGAH‘s performance was set from the off; a gargantuan wall of sound that packed an ominous sense of menace. Enormous riffs provided from Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström oozed utter aggression, from the curb-stomping grooves of Bleed to poly-rhythmic frenzy of Stengah, the ferocity on show here was terrifyingly brilliant. Indeed, each element of the Swedish outfit’s sound held it’s own in the live environment, combining together to create a huge wall of sound. Tomas Haake‘s work behind the drumkit felt earth-shattering with Do Not Look Down packing enough power to level a city whilst Dick Lövgren‘s thick bass tones complimenting the bending riffs of the band’s guitarists.
Above all of this, frontman Jens Kidman‘s vocal deliveries was the final touch of polish. Kidman delivered vocal lines of utter ferocity, his unique sounding growls carrying enough weight to hold their own and not falling underneath the wave of the band’s sound. Instead, Jens Kidman rode above the ferocity helping drive home the impact of MESHUGGAH in the live environment. With the band delivering such a monstrous sound, what truly helped deliver the impact of this was the band’s presence on stage. Looking ominous, all you could see was the silhouettes of the band as they provided continuously crushing grooves which really helped drive home a sense of dread. Indeed for a band to stand out in the modern age of metal is to have an impressive stage show and MESHUGGAH‘s light show was a thing of wonder. Continuous usage of strobe and lasers added a new element to the band’s entrancing presence, driving home the colossal epic Dancers To A Discordant System.
Often credited with helping progressive metal explode into life, MESHUGGAH more than proved their worth in the live environment in the modern age of metal. With the band’s new material from The Violent Sleep Of Reason holding its own against the band’s established back catalogue, the utilisation of a stunning light show and holding the audience by the scruff of the neck with an explosive sound, MESHUGGAH provided a performance of enormous menace. With little room to breathe and catch your breath, from start to finish the band decimated the venue and left ruins in their wake. Progressive metal may have come a long way since MESHUGGAH‘s explosive entry onto our scene but their performance still showcased that the band are still a force to be reckoned with.
Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in Manchester from Em Coulter Photography here: