Words – Photos: Dhruv Kumar
Meshuggah is renowned for delivering high-energy and technically impressive live shows. The Swedish extreme metal band is known for its intricate rhythms, polyrhythmic patterns, and innovative use of extended-range guitars. Any Meshuggah tour always leaves a mark, and on this current North American tour, they have been crushing it every night. But before they get on board, you have more ear-shattering grooves courtesy of longtime metal friends In Flames and deathcore veterans Whitechapel.
Opening the night, Tennessee’s deathcore powerhouse Whitechapel took the Paramount stage, unleashing a sonic onslaught. As the lights dimmed, signaling the impending storm, the atmosphere crackled with energy. “Let Me Burn” roared to life, setting the tone for an evening of relentless heaviness. The venue pulsated with thunderous double bass drumming, and guitarists Alex Wade and Ben Savage shredded through riffs with surgical precision. Phil Bozeman’s bone-rattling growls cut through the air like a serrated blade. The lighting design, with ominous hues and occasional strobes, intensified the visual experience, syncing with breakdowns. Whitechapel’s performance was an unyielding testament to their commitment to pushing the boundaries of extremity, solidifying their status as a formidable force in heavy music.
Swedish metal giants In Flames ignited the stage with a night of sonic intensity at the Paramount. Fans eagerly gathered for a performance by the melodic metal maestros that promised to be memorable. As the lights dimmed, a cinematic intro set a suspenseful atmosphere. Cheers erupted as Anders Fridén, the charismatic frontman, took the spotlight, signaling the start of a musical journey. The set began with the explosive “Forgone Pt.1,” showcasing the band’s seamless blend of melody and aggression. In Flames treated the crowd to a diverse setlist spanning their career, with tracks like “Cloud Connected” and “Take This Life” inciting fervent audience participation. The band’s ability to balance early aggression with later melodic elements highlighted their evolution as a musical force.
Meshuggah rises above the multitude of bands that have imitated their style due to their disciplined musicianship, mastery of their art, and cohesive unity as a singular entity with a specific goal – to meticulously perform each piece as required, without excess or unnecessary elements. There are no self-indulgent solos, no frivolous banter among band members; their unwavering focus is solely on the music.
The music emanates an invigorating intensity without any distortion in volume. The separation between the two guitars, whether engaged in counterpoint or harmonizing on the same riff, is notable. The drumming is equally remarkable, constantly evolving with discernible rolls, fills, and clear hi-hats. The relentless drive of the double bass pedals firmly anchors the bottom end.
Despite the formidable wall of sound from the instrumentalists, one might wonder how vocalist Jens Kidman manages to assert himself. Nevertheless, the well-balanced sound and volume enable the vocals to seamlessly meld in. The ongoing debate about whether it qualifies as traditional “singing” notwithstanding, Kidman’s vocal delivery effectively functions as another instrument intricately woven into the overall sonic tapestry. Kidman’s controlled use of his voice is distinctive; he eschews exertion and minimizes crowd interaction, opting instead to command the stage with a simple presence on the monitors.
They opened with “Broken Cog,” which got the fans rattled up. Playing hits like “Bleed” and “Demiurge,” fans left the show fulfilled and energized. Special kudos to the excellent and underrated “In Death Is Life/Death,” an epic combination to perform live. Those two stand as some of their most powerful work to date among longtime listeners of the band.
The tour perfectly encapsulates Meshuggah’s intense live shows, profound and technical musicianship, and the reason many fans resonate with their music. No frills, no BS, just a bunch of really great musicians playing live, capturing the moment. That’s it; at a Meshuggah show, you are in the moment, you let it take over you and completely immerse yourself in the experience.