Meshuggah + The Haunted @ O2 Institute, Birmingham – Friday 13 January 2017


Once more into the fray…

Review by Jason Guest

The Haunted are very happy to be back in the UK, frontman Marco Arco in particular. So happy are they that they immediately destroy the venue and all in attendance with a 40-minute set of relentless thrash-burnt death metal heaviness. With vocalist Marco Aro and drummer Adrain Erlandsson rejoining and bringing in guitarist Ola Englund (of Feared and Six Feet Under notoriey) in 2013, The Haunted have once again found their feet. And 2014’s Exit Wounds is testament to the band’s ability to weather all storms and produce the goods.

A pit quickly materializes and stays for the duration. The crowd giving as good as they get with fists pumping, heads banging and many a body flying, to watch The Haunted deliver tonight’s razor-sharp and clenched-fist set, you would have thought that it was they who were headlining. For this crowd, 40 minutes was far from enough. But I suspect they’ll be back soon. With a line-up as tight – and as settled – as this, they’d be fools not to get working on that next album…

Fathers to the djent genre and masters of polyrhythmic perversity, the might that is Meshuggah entered the room in darkness. Ovations fill the room, a four count on the hi-hat summons the dynamic density of ‘Clockworks’ from new album The Violent Sleep of Reason (reviewed here) to begin the fray, and the lights explode and bathe the crowd in a dance synchronised with the mechanical and mammoth music churned out by the silhouettes that adorn the stage. The crowd captivated and many a head trying to find the beat to bob in time to, they inhale this evening’s intoxicating breath and abandon themselves to an absurdly tight set.

Meshuggah’s unremitting rage is delivered with surgical precision while the crowd swallows itself whole, the bodies melding and moulding into a heaving mass that slams, surfs and shifts through shape after shape. The band’s idiosyncratic grooves, their dissonant and discordant riffs, and grimace- extraordinaire Kinsman’s menacing vocal barbs the soundtrack to this controlled chaos, to witness them pull off song after song what must take such intense focus not just to compose but to perform is astounding. Okay, they’ve been at it 30+ years and are more than adept at performing intricately complex and brain-bending tunes, but one slip, one trip, one glitch and the entire gig is screwed.

But we need not concern ourselves with such petty worries because Meshuggah are a lesson in machine-like meticulousness, in technical ability and in unmatched force. New tracks ‘Clockworks’, ‘Born In Dissonace’, ‘Nostrum’ and the title track of the latest album fit seamlessly into the set and further fortify the band’s position as innovators above all those who have followed and tried (and failed) to imitate them. As ever, a stunning set from a stunning band.