[Live Report] Meshuggah + The Haunted @ O2 Forum (London)

Meshuggah has never been a band you could only witness once in a blue moon but since four years ago they have toured more regularly and it’s been easy to experience them live every year or two years. The frequency does not hinder the enjoyment and every occasion brings its share of surprises.

This time one of them is the presence of The Haunted, a band from the same country as them, Sweden, but without much in common musically. After a period of experimentation due to the presence of Peter Dolving (MaryBeatsJane), the band has returned to it Thrash roots with an album choke full of Slayer riffs and a more traditional frontman, Marco Aro, with a low bark appropriate for a modern Thrash or a Hardcore band. As expected, their set does not bring any surprise to anyone who has ever seen a Metal show before but the songs from their extensive repertoire are quite decent. Even songs like 99, The Flood from the more melodic, and the Dolving, side of The Haunted’s carrier, are performed respectfully but it’s on the material from the latest album or on Hollow ground and D.O.A. (the two albums where Aro previously sang) that the band is the most comfortable.

Meshuggah, on the other hand, don’t do anything by the book. Their first tune of the night, the most straight up Metal song they have written in years, Clockworks, is the closest they have come to writing a « conventional » song. Once the follow-up Born in Dissonance burst through the speakers it feels like being in a rave instead of a Metal show thanks to the pulsating rhythm of the instruments. An unexpected oldie from Chaosphere came in the form of Sane instead of the classic, but predictable, New millennium cyanide christ and almost felt like classic Thrash in comparison. Two songs from Nothing, Perpetual black seconds and Stengah, brought things back to slow motion Techno Metal territory. Lethargica proceeded to pierce through everyone’s eardrums with it’s blistering rhythm, like a futuristic Dark Angel so it was time for Do not look down to bring down the pace to the crawling robotic pulse of the cybernetic machinery that is Meshuggah, preparing the audience adequately for more forward thinking pieces such as Nostrum and Violent Sleep of Reason. The double whammy of Dancers to a discordant system and Bleed could then have been sufficient to exhaust everyone, including the band, but there was still time for an encore with the new classic, Demiurge, a track that could easily be played at an IDM show without anyone hearing any difference, and the Voivod on speed of Future breed machine to finish the night.

The horns were in the air, the moshing extended from each side of the O2 Forum and long haired strangers with glasses headbanged with me like we were brothers of Metal. An excellent night it was but an accepting one too. Meshuggah brings together a diverse audience of music fans where everybody tolerates each other behaviour. At a Meshuggah show you can stumble on your neighbours with your eyes lost in ecstasy and nobody will bat an eyelid or try to get away from you. You are just possessed by the sound. We can all relate to that. There is nothing like a Meshuggah show. Long live Meshuggah.

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