Tighter than a duck's backside, heavier than hell itself, Meshuggah leave their mark on Manchester
Words: Phil Weller
Tight, heavy, thrilling and deadly, Meshuggah produced a performance like no other act could before a packed out Ritz. From the tidal surging of opener Clockworks, with its scintillating pneumatic drill riff work, to avalanching grooves of Do Not Look Down, they make every killer blow seem effortless.
The band’s progressive, polymetric approach to songwriting, which capitalises on the pure animalism of 8 string guitars, has found a new vitality in recent years. With the djent scene growing at warp speed exposure to and admiration for the band who inadvertently spawned it all has mirrored that of the wider scene. Tonight it feels the whole room is bowing down, in awe to this band’s uniqueness and superiority.
The Haunted had provided some typically Swedish abrasive heavy metal beforehand. Despite a mix that buried the more intricate lead guitar lines, the Swedes did all it could to warm up a crowd desperate to be on the receiving end of a Meshuggah beating.
With an expensive and impressive lights show behind them, and one which is computer operated for pinpoint timing, witnessing Meshuggah roll out songs of such a monstrous magnitude is simply spellbinding.
Jens Kidman is the conductor and a commanding presence at the forefront of the stage. Smashing his fist in the air, framed by lights that flash and flicker with a calculated chaos, he leads the band through Nothing duo Perpetual Black Second and Stengah. With the room getting smokier, the springy dance floor feels ready to buckle under the mammoth sounds which ooze like a tarry treacle from the stage. But the wall of sound refuses to die.
Violent Sleep of Reason is a whirlwind of ferocity and with the cold barbarism of Dancers to a Discordant system hot on its heels, the place understandably goes ballistic. A song armed with bewildering and dizzying riffs, Bleed then possess the entire venue with some sordid Exorcist style demons.
Demiurge is a lesson in brute force yet hypnotic grooves. Watching this song tear a venue apart should be on the bucket list of any self respecting fan of heavy.
Only Meshuggah could devastate an audience like this. It’s a night which will be cemented in everyone’s memory for a long time yet. I mean, it's all just a little bit silly, isn't it?