November 11, 2016 Meshuggah Demolish Playstation Theater, NYC 11-3-16 w/ High on Fire
In review, the year 2016 has been a pretty good one for the Swedish Extreme Metal act Meshuggah. Recently releasing their eighth full-length album, The Violent Sleep of Reason, via Nuclear Blast on October 7th, their first studio album since 2012’s Koloss, days after their appearance at Chicago Open Air, they announced a full fall North American tour. Known as an innovator in modern Metal, incorporating different styles ranging from Progressive, Death Metal, and Thrash Metal, Meshuggah’s complexity is part of the intrigue.
Elate to be back in the North American region for a full run for the first time since 2014’s 25 Years of Deviance Tour with Between the Buried and Me, they would kick things off days after the release of The Violent Sleep of Reason in Florida. Plotting shows through November 6th, the nearly month long trek returned to Manhattan on Thursday, November 3rd, with support from High on Fire. Returning to The Playstation Theater, nestled in the chaos of midtown, the last time they visited the venue was on June 21st of 2014, then called Best Buy Theater. While the name changed, not much else has, including the hunger of their fans as they geared up for the night ahead.
A sold out event, many made sure to arrive early enough to check out the merchandise tables and loosen up prior to High on Fire’s supporting set. Providing bluesy riffs and a Doom melody, California’s High on Fire has been going strong since 1998. Taking a few years reprieve from heavy touring, in 2015 they returned with their acclaimed seventh album, Luminiferous, which included a headlining tour. Now back in the groove since, their teaming with Meshuggah came with a positive response from Metal fans as the common consensus surrounding High on Fire is a delightful blend of Stoner/Doom/Heavy Metal.
As Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass) entered the stage, Matt Pike (vocalist/guitar) soon followed, walking out in his traditional attire, shirtless. As the mood setting lights engulfed the stage, the trio of musicians launched into newer material such as “The Black Plot” and “Carcosa.” Taking no prisoners, Pike plowed through with his dominating riffs during “Rumors of War,” and as the set progressed, they did not leave much room for interaction. Not necessarily a bad thing, Pike did acknowledge the fans, but the band concentrated on delivering as much music as they possibly could continuing with “Serums of Liao.” Asking if everyone was ready for a fast song, everyone screamed loudly as they went into “Slave the Hive” followed by “The Falconist.”
As the set moved on at a rapid pace, many members in the crowd were drenched with sweat as the pummeling of Metal kept coming with “Turk” and “Fertile Green.” Then, the energy level rose even higher as classic song “Blood from Zion” came before concluding track “Snakes for the Divine.” Pike and his mates casually waved goodnight to supporters upon the final notes ringing out prior to exiting the stage. An act that steers straight through, each song was presented in a mesmerizing fashion. Now they look to take their thoughtful musicianship abroad as they continue to support Meshuggah on the European leg of the tour.
Now completely packed from the pit area up into the stadium seating in the rear, everyone was prepared for Meshuggah. For some, this was actually an introduction to a live Meshuggah performance, for others, it was one of many dating as far back to their 1999 tour supporting Slayer. Whatever one’s experience, fans of all ages and backgrounds appeared united in anticipation for the show to start.
With the light once again slowly dimming into darkness, Tomas Haake (drums), Dick Lövgren (bass), Mårten Hagström (guitar), Fredrik Thordendal (guitar), and Jens Kidman (vocals) entered the stage to a sea of cheers. An exciting moment, with no time to waste, Haake led the first song of the night,“Clockworks,” as he pounded through on the drums. Showing their enthusiasm, crowd-surfers immediately emerged as a pit began to form on the floor while strobes concealed the band in flashes of bright light to the rhythm of the music. A key part of the performance most of the of the night, “Born in Dissonance” came before older material such as 1998’s “Sane.” Known for his distinctive facial expressions while performing, Kidman did not disappoint with more than a few unmistakable glances that fans have grown to love. Maintaining the consistent brutality, they played on with “Perpetual Black Second” and “Stengah” while everyone continued to move around through “Lethargica,” from 2008’s obZen, and “Do Not Look Down,” from 2012’s Koloss.
Giving everyone a rest of the epileptic assault of strobes, the room turned to a near pitch-black as screams resonated through the air. Followed by a brief moment of silence, the guitars returned as the music continued with a new song, “Nostrum.” This followed with Kidman approaching the front of the stage, following the rhythm of “The Violent Sleep of Reason,” headbanging during the instrumental introduction. With the set drawing to its end, they finished off with “Dancers to a Discordant System” and “Bleed.” Vanishing from the platform following the final song, the exhausted audience continued to beg for more. Patiently waiting for Meshuggah’s return, it was all worth it as they offered the powerful tune “Demiurge” before the classic “Future Breed Machine,” from 1995’s Destroy Erase Improve.
Clearly brought to the height of exhaustion, physically and mentally, the verdict was Meshuggah is one of the best live Metal bands around. Highly technical and equally as brutal, their sound and style is uniquely their own. Some would even go as far to say they sound even better live than on a studio recording. With the North American tour concluded, Meshuggah now head back across the ocean to bring the The Violent Sleep of Reason to their European cohorts.