(This is more than a show review… this is Andy Synn’s analysis of why Meshuggah rise far above their legions of imitators.)
Two nights ago I was lucky enough to witness the sheer awe-inspiring power of Meshuggah lay waste to a packed Roundhouse in London, as part of their 25th (!) Anniversary tour.
As I’m reviewing the show for another publication (because I am, at heart, a whore for attention and approbation) it didn’t seem right to also review it here for NCS. However, the whole experience did stimulate more than a few different thoughts in my head, and so I wanted to at least take the opportunity to write a few of them down, and maybe go a little deeper into exactly why I think Meshuggah are such an important, vital band in today’s metal scene.
I’ve arranged the following new video and song premieres in a way that spurs imaginings of you trapped on the upper floor of a building being demolished by jackhammers of an alien design, plummeting toward the ground while shrieking in terror, and then being buried in a drizzling rain. Well, I don’t mean you in particular, I mean listeners and viewers in general. You’ll see.
But first, Sweden’s Bloodbath have finally revealed the identity of their new vocalist — a subject about which I and many others have been speculating since much earlier this year.
Yes, that’s right — just a couple hours ago Metal Hammer officially revealed that Bloodbath’s new vocalist is none other than Nick Holmes, the vocalist of Paradise Lost. He was indeed born in 1971, which was the first clue that Bloodbath offered way back in February. He was not the person I guessed then (I guessed Jörgen Sandström). I didn’t even seriously contemplate Mr. Holmes, given his predominant vocal style — but Metal Hammer reports that the new album (Grand Morbid Funeral) “will see the return of the ravenous and cavernous growl that marked Paradise Lost’s debut album, Lost Paradise.”
Metal Hammer further reports that the album will include guest appearances by Chris Reifert and Eric Cutler of Autopsy.
Surely you have some thoughts about this revelation, so feel free to sound off in the Comments.
Yesterday Nuclear Blast announced that Sweden’s hugely popular and hugely influential Meshuggah would be returning to North America this summer for a tour celebrating their “25 Years of Musical Deviance”, with support from Between the Buried and Me. As originally announced, the tour consisted of only 12 dates, two of which were festival appearances. But today the band announced a significantly expanded schedule of tour dates, going well beyond the original 12 cities.
Inconsistent explanations have been offered for the change. In today’s official announcement frontman Jens Kidman is quoted as follows:
“This is our 25th anniversary tour of the North American market, which has been an enormous factor in the success of our band — probably the single biggest factor. Of course, we always planned to make this the biggest tour we’ve ever mounted. To do anything else would have been churlish.
“That miserably tiny run of dates our label announced yesterday was supposed to have been an April Fool’s joke, but as we like to say in Umeå, someone at Nuclear Blast “screwed the pooch” by releasing it a day early. We sincerely apologize to our North American fans for the confusion. The expanded schedule we’re rolling out today will make all the butthurt go away like a big tube of Preparation H.”
I’ve been unable to check the NCS in-box for a few hours. In more plain-spoken English, what this means is that the intrepid NCS pigeon aeronauts who deliver our metal-oriented mail were distracted by some old dude with popcorn on a park bench. I’ve tried to reason with them about the importance of prompt deliveries, but if you’ve ever tried to reason with a pigeon, you know it’s a daunting task.
Anyway, they finally made it to the NCS HQ, and one of the missives caught my eye immediately: The mighty Meshuggah have announced that they will be returning to NorthAm this summer “to celebrate their 25th year of musical deviance with festival appearances, Canadian dates, and clubs that will fill to capacity.” Opening for them (on all but the two festival dates) will be North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me.
For people lucking enough to reside within striking distance of any of the following 12 cities, this is strikingly good news:
I’m working on a couple of posts for today but didn’t finish either of them last night and I’m getting a slow start this morning. But I wanted to get something up here on the site for your entertainment while I continue to dither around on those other posts. So here are three entertaining somethings.
The first thing I saw in my e-mail inbox this morning was a press release announcing the news that Agonia Records will be releasing the 10th studio album by Belgium’s Enthroned on April 15. The title is Sovereigns, and the eye-catching artwork can be viewed above. It’s now available for pre-order at this location. Enthroned’s Facebook page can be accessed through this link.
And other than expressing my figurative tumescence over this news, that’s about all I have to say on this subject. I will let this stream of music from Enthroned’s fantastic last album, 2012’s Obsidium, say the rest.
Bear with me — there’s some metal at the end of this.
This post is about two things that happened to me yesterday as a result of my day job. The first thing happened during a work-related lunch I had with someone we do business with. I was meeting with him for only the second time. At some point, making small talk, I told him that the place where I work was having its annual office holiday party last night at a restaurant and bar named Radiator Whiskey. It features one whole wall of nothing but the brown stuff — bourbon, rye, and scotch — all of which I like. After I told him that, he said, “I hope you don’t have major katzenjammer on Saturday morning”.
He pronounced “katzenjammer” in the German way (something like “kah-tsahn-yah-ma”), instead of the way a monolingual American like me would say it. After I asked him to spell the word, I realized I’d heard it before, oddly enough because somewhere I came across a stray bit of trivia that stuck in my head, about an old comic strip called The Katzenjammer Kids (I’ll come back to that). But I didn’t know what the word meant, so I asked him. Here’s what The Font of All Human Knowledge says about the word, which is pretty close to what the guy told me at lunch:
(In this guest post, Johan Paulin features an eye-popping list of metal bands, all of whom hail from the same relatively small town in northern Sweden. Tons of music in here, too.)
As most metalheads with more than a fleeting interest in extreme metal know, Sweden has been a forerunner ever since Quorthon struck his first minor chord back in the 80’s. The explanations for how a population the size of Sweden’s could spawn so many good metal bands have varied, and I won’t get into them now, but it’s safe to say that the great band / population ratio is over the top. Still, for all the bands you do know, dozens more toil in more or less obscurity and deserve a better fate. Thus, when Islander called upon us readers to contribute while he took a well-earned vacation full of cloudgazing and Krokodil [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desomorphine], I decided to take the opportunity to champion some of the great bands that originate from my hometown of Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå is located in the northern part of Sweden and has a population of about 120,000 in the whole municipality, making it the 12th largest city in Sweden according to The Font of All Human Knowledge. If that may seem laughable to many of you, you’ll be rolling on the floor when I tell you that the population of London is equal to the population of my whole country! So, fuck demographics and let’s get on with the metal.
Maybe you don’t realize that you need a Meshuggah fix, but you do. In fact, needing it and not knowing you need it could be the source of many of your mental and emotional instabilities. If you watch these two videos, you could become a happier and more well-adjusted person. And by “happier and more well-adjusted”, I mean vacant-eyed, slack-jawed, and slobbery.
I almost didn’t post the first video. I almost didn’t even watch it. I don’t like being the last metal blogger in creation to post about things, so when I see a video that has already made the rounds, I kind of assume that everyone who cares has seen it and I should spend my time on something else. But I got an e-mail today from Johan, an NCS reader who was actually at the club in Sweden where the video was filmed, watching the performance as it happened, and he changed my mind.
As he explained in his message, “Last year Toontrack (creators of drum-software and sample-libraries) decided to throw a staff party/PR stunt by having Periphery and Meshuggah play gigs at Scharinska villan in Meshuggah’s hometown of Umeå. Nothing special right? Except for the fact that Scharinska is a tiny club fitting 300 people in total, maybe 200 in the actual concert room, and that only 100 tickets were released to the public. The rest were given away to employees and partners. Needless to say, the gig was tremendous and the crowd was boiling (literally, it was insanely hot)…. The camera that is shooting straight towards the stage is pretty much where the back of the room is, it’s that tiny.”
In late April you may have seen a video that showed Edvard Hansson — the light technician for Sweden’s Meshuggah — operating the control board for the band’s show in Paris last December (I saw it via The Monolith). By all accounts, the lighting on the band’s current tour is a true extravaganza, and what made the Hansson video such a jaw-dropper was the realization (in The Monolith’s words) that, “Rather than having programmed a static lighting show, he actually ‘plays’ along with with them, triggering parts of the setup in time with the complex rhythms of the music.
Unfortunately, the Hansson video didn’t show the light show itself, other than through the strobing flashes in the corner of the screen. But I just saw a video of the band performing at the Cirkus venue in Stockholm on May 9 that provides a good view of what happens as Hansson pushes all those buttons. It’s really amazing.
WARNING: For those prone to strobe-induced seizures, don’t watch this. It comes next . . . .
Meshuggah now have an official video for the song “I Am Colossus” from Koloss that adds layers of the alien and the grotesque to the song’s atmospherics. Or perhaps the video merely brings out elements of the alien and the grotesque that were present in the song all along.
The video is an animation created by Magnus Jonsson, who is to be congratulated for a really amazing job.
That’s really all I have to say . . . now be good to yourselves and watch “I Am Colossus” after the jump.