GIG REVIEW: Meshuggah & High On Fire Live at House Of Blues, Dallas, TX
I’ve marked the show on 17th October, 2016 on my calendar as one of the most heaviest shows I’ve been to, if not the heaviest one. There were only two bands on the bill but that is all the stage could handle that night. All tired and beaten up, I got into my friends car, closed my eyes and tried to relive what I had experienced a few hours ago. Visions of brutality and mathematical ingenuity filled my mind as the car sped away into the Interstate-30 expressway.
Only three hours ago, I had arrived at the very familiar, House Of Blues venue in Dallas, TX. I like to watch my concerts from the front row so I got their early and took my spot. The first band for the night was High On Fire. I had no idea who or what this band was, so I was particularly interested to see what kind of a show they were going to put up. Their set exploded with “The Black Pot” off of their album ‘Luminiferous’. A fitting song to start the show as it had the intensity and fire to light the stage. Matt Pike is completely on point with his down-tuned, heavily distorted guitar sound and his signature sludge style of vocals.
Their sound was boisterous and ballsy with a minimalist approach. As a three piece, they had a sound that was particularly huge and original. They played “Carcosa” next which had a very hooky chorus. The pit got really going on their third song, “Rumors Of War”. This is when I found myself drifting into the mosh pit. They played other classics like “Turk”, “Blood from Zion” among many others and finally ended with “Snakes for the Devine” which was like a sludge take on the sound from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
I fought my way back into the front row, rested my arms over the railing and waited for my mind to explode. This was it, Meshuggah, live on stage. I could not believe my eyes and for a moment I thought if this was just a fantasy. The first riff exploded which was “Clockworks” from their new album titled ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’. I’ve never heard such a heavy sound and I’ve been to many concerts over the course of the last ten years. These folks write songs in a very intricate and tightly woven style which makes me question from time to time whether they are even human. Multiple time signature changes, poly-rhythms, syncopations flying left and right, odd-meters are just a few of the things on the menu for this buffet of progressive metal. These folks push the boundaries of what can be considered music and each of them is ridiculously talented at their instrument.
They played “Born in Dissonance” and things were getting even more intense. I found myself back in the mosh pit on “Lethargica” and “Dancers to a Discordant System”. Its particularly hard to headbang because of all the odd-time signatures. Guitarist Fredrik Thordendal towered over everyone else and for a minute I thought he was a real life incarnation of some great Viking god. They played “Bleed” and at that point, all I felt I needed to do was watch what exactly it is that Tomas Haake was doing on the drums. That song is by far the most rhythmically challenging songs I’ve heard and to see my hero play it live, was a special treat. They played “Demiurge” and “Future Breed Machine” as encore to a crowd that looked like it was baptized.
I paused for a moment and realized, they are perfect at what they do. Not a single mistake and I am not exaggerating. They were accurate at an atomic scale, to a point where I sincerely questioned whether they were aliens from some other planet, secretly inhabiting our planet and showing us how far advanced their music is in terms of technicality. Jens Kidman is consistent in his delivery and does not deviate from the true sound of his voice. I was lucky enough to catch a drumstick that Tomas threw at me, which I am going to frame as a relic from a civilization of advanced sentients.
To conclude, it was one of the most epic, brutal and radical shows I’ve been to and I am almost convinced that Meshuggah are either aliens, mutants, super-humans, a figment of all our collective imagination or just a bunch of highly talented and hardworking guys who’s passion overflows to an extent where they attain super-powers due to their work ethic and sincerity.