On October 7th, 2005, the very foundation of the BB King Blues Club in New York City's Times Square shook from some serious metal thunder when Sweden's Meshuggah came to town, hot on the heels of their new epic release Catch Thirty Three. Along for the Fury of the Fall Tour were openers Mnemic from Denmark, fellow Swdes The Haunted, and New Jersey's God Forbid, and it proved to be a formidable line-up indeed, as all bands really hit the mark on this evening.
Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo and Ken Pierce were on hand for this metal party and report back with this full concert review!
Seeing as this was Meshuggah's first trip back to the US in a few years, news that we heard around the venue early on was that the tour was packing the crowds in at basically every gig, and this night was to be no exception. Mnemic hit the stage to at least a half-filled BB Kings, and the fans were starving for metal music. Featuring brand new singer Tony Jelencovich (indeed he is brand new, as we found out while talking to him backstage that he had only been in the band approximately a month!), Mnemic sounded heavier and more charged up this night than they had a few months prior when they came to town with Dark Tranquility, Hypocrisy, and Soilwork. I think the addition of Tony on vocals has really injected some much needed fuel into this band, as the songs they played off the recent album The Audio Injected Soul sounded crunchier, more aggressive, and more alive. Tony mentioned that the band will go into the studio after this tour to begin the recording of a new album, and judging by the new attitude of the band (bassist Tomas "Obeast" Koefoed also mentioned to us that the band has a new found hunger that they haven't had in a while) it should be a good one.
Tony Jelencovich of Mnemic
Fans of Sweden's The Haunted have been busy celebrating with the return of original vocalist Peter Dolving for their 2004 release rEVOLVEr, which is a return to form for these kings of kick ass thrash metal. Featuring the smoldering riffs of guitarists Anders Bjorler and Jensen, the band cranks out plenty of massive yet groove-laden metal chords while Dolving lets loose with some furious hardcore tinged metal shouts. The tracks off the new album were thunderous, and as heavy & venomous as the band is there's no denying the catchiness of the classic metal grooves that lie within their songs. After their short set of under 40 minutes, which featured songs from albums such as One Kill Wonder, The Haunted Made Me Do It, The Haunted and their latest, the band left the stage to a monstrous applause. It was good to see them back, and we can expect plenty more music out of this metal machine in the years to come.
Jensen of The Haunted
God Forbid has been riding a bit of a wave the past few years. The New Jersey quintet's last release on Century Media in 2004 Gone Forever really put the band on the map, resulting in tours with Slipknot, Fear Factory, Machine Head, as well as a slot on Ozzfest. However, their brand new opus IV: Constitution of Treason is gaining excellent reviews worldwide, and the ovation when they hit the stage this night I'm sure let the band know that they fans dig the new album. While due to the evening as a whole running a little late the band had to rush through their set and cut a couple of songs, the played a handful of songs from the most recent two CD's, and were in fine form. Lead singer Byron Davis is an imposing figure on stage, and has a voice to match, as he screamed and growled with fierce precision, while the guitar duo of brothers Doc & Dallas Coyle add the right amount of crunch and virtuosity. You can easily see how this band has grown over the last two years, as they have incorporated plenty of melodic vocal harmonies and complex song structures to their new music, moving them slowly away from the metal-core tag towards a more sophisticated, perhaps extreme progressive metal band. The band wanted more, but God Forbid had to leave the stage a little early, to prepare the stage for the arrival of the kings of technical extreme metal, Meshuggah.
Experiencing Meshuggah live certainly is an experience. While their music is technical, it's more from a rhythmic standpoint, as opposed to bands like Dream Theater, Spiral Architect, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy, Symphony X, etc., who hit you with loads of dizzying guitar and keyboard solos and unison arrangements. Meshuggah's sound is massive and extremely bottom heavy, with intricate drum patterns and guitar riffs that stop and start using time signatures that most bands wouldn't even think to use. At this time the venue was swelling to capacity (my guess is there were close to if not over 1000 people in attendance) and the audience in the front were rabid and enjoying every moment. There were many highlights from their 60+ minute set, but songs that really got the crowd crazy were of course the classic "Future Breed Machine", "Soul Burn", "Stengah", and the classic "Rational Gaze". The big surprise was seeing how well the medley from Catch Thirty Three went over with the crowd-this is a challenging album to listen to in its entirety, and you would think it would be hard to pick sections out from it, but the band wove it all together into a nice 13 minute medley that the crowd really dug. Drummer Tomas Haacke is just a monster player, and considering he mentioned to us backstage that his back was killing him and we was not sure he could play through the set, he pulled in an MVP type performance. The guitar tandem of Fredrik Thordendal and Marten Hagstrom churned out plenty of killer riffs on their new 8 string guitars, and Thordendal's Allan Holdsworth styled solos elicited screams of "Thordendal is God" from various fans in the crowd. Singer Jens Kidman as always screams with the best of them, providing not a moment or shred of melody, yet his vocals never really needed that characteristic to be effective for the type of music the band plays.
Jens Kidman of Meshuggah
It was a fantastic show, and sadly, due to a late show from a U2 Cover band that was booked after this one, Meshuggah had to cut their set shorter than normal and leave the stage. The fans though by this time had experienced a great night of adventurous metal and looked pretty tuckered out. We had the opportunity to hang out with the band backstage after the show, and they really are a great bunch of guys with unique personalities, who just like to create and play music and have a good time. We look forward to having them back once again!
Commentry from Ken Pierce:
The tour was labeled "The Fury Of The Fall" and it certainly made sense given that it put a great roster of Century Media Records and Nuclear Blast Records heaviest hitters alongside the one and only Meshuggah. The venue would be the ever popular B.B. King Blues Club which I have been to more times than I can recall at present in my quest to bring you the Metal. Joining Meshuggah would be Mnemic (Denmark), The Haunted (Sweden) and God Forbid (US) and it was clear very early on that this would be one kick ass performance. The lack of available tickets that day to the sold-out venue was a testament to the support and interest that all of these bands were generating and it slams down those that say no one comes to shows anymore. Tonight 1100 crazed for the Metal friends were in the house and the vibe of the air was exciting to say the least. I liked how this tour featured several different Countries as well rather than one area dominating the show. Here is a little on each of the groups.
Mnemic: I caught Mnemic earlier in the year when Soilwork came to town with Dark Tranquility and Hypocrisy. They were the first to perform on that bill. They had a good sound but it was not entirely what I was interested in because of my unfamiliarity with it. I was also too geared up for what the headliners would be presenting that night so it made being first on deck a very difficult position to be in. Since that show the group had lead singer Michael Bogballe choosing to leave the band to pursue other interests and that is not good when a band is on the rise. They found a new guy rather quickly, and let me tell you Tony is worth every musical note that they have. His presence takes the band and their existing material in an entirely new direction. As a result I found Mnemic to be a lot more aggressive and in your face than I remembered them being with Soilwork. It was clear that this was a good band to select as an opener for Meshuggah with this new direction and I look forward to hearing a recorded work with Tony fronting them. The room was not yet packed but it did seem like they were drawing some attention.
The Haunted: I had never followed Sweden's The Haunted, and only listened to their latest effort "rEvolver" a few weeks ago. It's brutally fast Death-like Metal from Sweden where all of the great stuff is coming from these days. The amount of Metal out of the Scandinavian Countries especially in 2005 has been amazing to bear witness to. The group played a number of tracks from the album I reference and other than saying how tight they were and delivered their material with expertise there is not much else I can say about them. I plan on looking more into them in future listens and recommend the album if you find intense thrashing to be of your liking.
God Forbid: This band is making a real big noise with their latest release "IV: Constitution Of Treason" and with it they seem to be paving a nice path to the top of the Metal pile. As I observed the level of support that was being given from the crowd it was safe to say that a lot of the attendees were here for this band as well. Before they began their set, lead singer Byron Davis walked around the club and those that realized it was him were able to shake hands and get some pictures. I have to get a copy of this album for it is a brutal display of Thrash and very musical; more so than the samplings of them that I had heard in the past. Some of the songs that they played this evening are as follows: Forcefied, Better Days,
Antihero, Constitution of Treason, Chains of Humanity and Divinity. They did not seem to do more than a 40 minute set and that surprised me as being just before the main band.
Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah
Meshuggah: The Mighty Meshuggah was back in New York City. For years this band has been considered one of the groups that sets the standard in the realm of Industrialized or Experimental Heavy Metal. Being a group that does not fear change or reprisal for their experiments they gave us their latest effort "Catch 33" on which the band delivered one contiguous and ever morphing track. Gone were blistering guitars and thunderous drums and instead programmed drumming and no solos were found on the release. This tour was a short one to get some shows out to support the new record as plans are to do a return to form Metal album and then do a larger scale tour. Fredrik's guitar work was as amazing live as I had heard it was (I had never seen Meshuggah in concert prior to this so it was great to experience). Jens Kidman was literally holding the audience in his hand throughout the entire set and there is nothing like a dynamic front man especially when the music is as intense as that of Meshuggah is apt to be. The group played about a 15 minute segment from the new album and it did translate well in the live sense. I had expected it to be the case but in truth you cannot ever really tell. Drummer Tuomas would have his work cut out for him tonight for not only did he have to execute the programmed work of "Catch 33" and his other material but he also had to do this with a back problem. We spoke to him afterwards and he had said he got hurt and was not sure how it happened. Yet as we watched him play we saw no issues at all and this is a sign of his determination to the Meshuggah fans. It did prevent the band from delivering any encore's however.
To sum the whole show up I thought it was a really killer performance with everyone doing their own personal best. The other aspect of this which bears note is the fact that most of these acts have similar musical ties and fit very well in the same context. Sometimes you see a show and wonder how a particular act was chosen. This was not the case tonight and I recommend that the next time Meshuggah is coming to town that you get yourself a ticket.
Meshuggah Set List
1) The Mouth Licking What You've Bled
2) Soul Burn
3) Rational Gaze
4) Perpetual Black Second
7) 13 minute Catch Thirty Three medley (Mind's Mirrors/In Death Is Life, In Death is Death)
8) Straws Pulled At Random
9) Future Breed Machine