Feb 222010

Spastic headbangers rejoice! Meshuggah‘s live performance DVD/CD Alive is out and available for purchase.

We’re guessing the odds that (a) you care enough about extreme metal to visit sites like ours, but (b) have never listened to Meshuggah, are (c) pretty fucking small. If by some tiny chance you haven’t given Meshuggah a serious listen, then this would be a very good time to do it. If, as is likely, you already know the music, you’re going to have a meshuggasm watching and listening to Alive.

[From the NCS Dictionary: meshuggasm: intense or paroxysmal excitement; especially: an explosive discharge of neuromuscular tensions at the height of arousal produced by listening to Meshuggah.]

The Alive DVD includes live performance footage from Meshuggah concerts during 2009 in Montreal, Toronto, and New York City, and from a 2008 festival performance in Tokyo. The decision to compile and alternate performance cuts from different venues rather than show one concert from start to finish keeps the video visually interesting, and presumably allowed the band and the director to pick the best live performances of each song.

The video includes 12 songs performed live, 5 from the latest full-length ObZen (“Pravus”, “Bleed”, “Electric Red”, “Lethargica”, and “Combustion”), 4 from Nothing (“Perpetual Black Second”, “Stengah”, “Rational Gaze”, and “Straws Pulled At Random”), 2 from Chaosphere (“New Millenium Cyanide Christ” and “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled”), and 1 from Contradictions Collapse (“Humiliative”). (more after the jump, including a track from the CD . . .)

The shows were filmed from multiple camera angles, and the live cinematography is extremely high-quality. We really liked the editing work, too. Don’t know about you, but we get tired of performance videos that constantly break from shot to shot so fast you can barely see what’s going on; after all, that’s not how you actually watch a live show in person (unless you’re on meth). Alive makes good decisions on when to let the camera linger, and when to move on, and includes split-screen shots that allow you to see more than one perspective at the same time.

The crowd scenes are sufficient to give you the feel of “being there” without distracting too long from what you really want to see.

And what you really want to see is a joy to behold: drummer Tomas Haake, off in his own world, eyes closed, pummeling complex syncopated rhythms; guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström hammering out intricate riffs while headbanging from the waist in conterpoint or in unison; Dick Lövgren precisely crushing the bass notes; and of course Jens Kidman, grimacing, scowling, rasping, howling, eyes rolling back in his head, delivering those signature headbanging moves in time to one of the many coexistent rhythms woven by his bandmates.

It’s one thing to listen to Meshuggah play their intricate music with such precision and technical flair, but it’s a whole different thing to see and hear them pull off such feats of skill live, without the safety net of a recording studio. And the superb quality of the sound on Alive delivers a remarkably crisp listening experience without sacrificing any of the power and energy of the live show.

Interspersed among the songs on the DVD are black-and-white, behind-the-scenes vignettes that are mostly interesting and happily brief. The video also includes some other bonus material, but of course the DVD rises or falls on the concert scenes — and it rises very high.

One of our favorite songs on the DVD is the Tokyo performance of “Perpetual Black Second.” The stage is huge, the crowd is massive, and the band is bathed in shifting colors of otherworldly light. Wish we had a way to show you the song, but we can at least let you listen to that track from the CD. So, do that, and then go get Alive:

Meshuggah: Perpetual Black Second (Tokyo)

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