A magician never reveals his secrets. Similarly Meshuggah have once again temporarily exited their hibernation period to floor the entire globe with their latest release The Violent Sleep Of Reason and not only that but the world of live music as the quintuplet descend once more upon London’s Forum for a sold out show that most would take an entire lifetime just to be able to match.
Originally perplexed at the announcement that The Haunted would be acting as support for Meshuggah’s UK appearance it becomes quickly apparent that the two form an absolutely vicious combination. An incredibly hard band to match, The Haunted give it their all in their warm up performance tonight. Launching into their first track the immediacy of The Haunted barrels through the course of “No Compromise” not pausing breath immediately we’re thrust back into the thick of it with the schizophrenic juddering of “99” which nearing its end sees vocalist Marco Aro almost reach the colour of his jersey as he hurls out the final phrase. Full of energy tonight both the band and crowd are immensely receptive to one another. Whether it be the grooving of “Time (Will Not Heal)” or the thrashing of “My Enemy” the crowd here are loving every single track.
With a line up consisting of the cogs of At The Gates and now one Ola England on guitar, it’s clear to see just how much musical talent is put forward from The Haunted here tonight. Absolutely devastating each section every instrument coalesces to form an absolutely remorseless strike. As mentioned before when going up against a formidable foe as Meshuggah you need to be top notch and as Aro leaps into the crowd for the final vitriolic “Hate Song” the crowd and it seems the band are more than just warmed up, with The Haunted set to record a new album this year, their reach will extend far beyond that of the unremarkable.
Immediately asserting their musical dominance, watching the ten legged phenomenon that is Meshuggah perform live truly is a spectacle. Even their entrance, favouring a minimalist high pitch din ramps up the atmosphere before the arrival of Tomas Haake and the only temporary moments peace of the hihat step before “Clockworks” shatters the tension in The Forum. Followed by fibre crunching “Born In Dissonance” the double whammy kicks things off at a more sluggish pace until “Sane” rightfully thrusts Meshuggah back into their more aggressive days of Chaosphere.
For many the band’s riffs are indecipherable, though you would be forgiven for assuming that the swedes are very much a musicians band. Yet whilst the audience is aiming to crack the quantum theory behind the band’s playing, the group heave forward making this even more complex for “The Hurt That Finds You First” as the music is syncopated not just between instruments but the lighting itself. Making for an at once transcendental yet incredibly antagonistic view. Mimicking guitar slides the lights raise up, the stop on a dime palm mutes see strobe lights appear and on “Nostrum” a particular highlight of all of the above coupled with an arachnid style laser display. Despite its overwhelming nature, you cannot help but be mesmerised by the sheer complexity of both music and visual representation effectively making the show Meshuggah’s sixth member.
Despite their difficulty, the performance of classic Obzen material or Nothing classic “Stengah” has surely now become second nature to the band. They’re no less impressive however to us mere mortals but it’s the realisation that when performing tracks from their brand new album, The Violent Sleep Of Reason, this is exactly what they did but recorded it all live, the intensity of the live performance captured on record. The raw crunch of the title track coupled with the existential philosophical weight of the band’s lyrics played exactly as it was recorded, it truly makes the mind boggle and does beg the question if they might well be one of the best bands on the planet and not just a guitar nerds wet dream.
As much as you might want to stare in wonder, the likes of “Do Not Look Down” brings the groove to shake the foundations of The Forum to its very epicentre. Even throwing in their nine minute epic “Dancers To A Discordant System” a true highlight of just how devastating this band can be, followed by the quake of “Demiurge” and after saying the total sermon of two words (“Thank you“) from Kidman we’re introduced to “Bleed” the band’s ode to triplet tenacity before critical mass of “Future Breed Machine” where the audience now has nothing left and are left questioning the idea of reality and still processing exactly what it was that just happened over the last ninety minutes. Muse might have an incredible light show and AC/DC might make you really rock out but no one other than Meshuggah will ever simultaneously enlighten yet completely obliterate you and THAT is why they are, have been and always will be one of the best bands on the planet.