Meshuggah/Animals as Leaders/We are Knuckle Dragger – Live Review

When you see the names Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders you know you’re in for an evening of intense, mind-blowing music. Tonight’s show took place at the Concorde 2 in Brighton and with a 600 capacity the show was sold out and filled with people in which I can only describe as looking like hundreds of sardines stuffed in a tiny tin.

We are Knuckle Dragger got things off to an impressive start and despite the venue not even being half full yet they begin playing with aggression and enthusiasm. They most certainly seem to enjoy their time on stage and the crowd seem to love it just as much. They receive an ever increasing round of applause after every song till they exit the stage and leave the audience more than ready for the next act.

Main support act Animals as Leaders treated the crowd to a technical master-class and mesmerising performance. Fitting into the ‘Djent’ genre alongside Meshuggah these guys fit in perfectly with tonight’s show. The emotional high that raced through the crowd could only be described as euphoria as the band switched between beautiful melodies and ear splitting guitar solos.

For the beginning of their set the crowd stood in awe but soon started to attempt to synchronize head bang with the band, leaving an amazing sight to see as every head is moving at the same pace, the same way. The three musicians went through their set transitioning from technical metal, to a march-inducing steady chug, to pure jazz, to ambient, all so naturally it seemed to be child’s play to them which unveiled an even wilder side of the audience.

Technical wizards Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes played their eight string guitars with complete ease, focusing on the low rhythmical growls of the instrument. Although the band lacks vocals the gap is more than filled by the hypnotising sight of Tosin Abasi’s scintillating lead playing. New drummer, Matt Garstka with his machine-like precision pummelled the drums and took metal to a whole other level. Before long the band had finished up and left the stage leaving a stunned crowd trying to make sense of what had just happened but hungry for the oncoming onslaught.

Headliners and Swedish metallers Meshuggah are the masters of polyrhythm and are one of the innovators of modern metal music recently giving rise to the “djent” movement. They commandeered the stage, ripping straight into their set and bludgeoning the crowd with their complex ‘cosmic calculus metal’ and opening with ‘Demiurge’ from their new onslaught ‘Koloss’.

The band plays each song with perfection and creates a recognisable sonic imprint and distinct style. The crowd go nuts for each song and head bang in time to even the most complex of the bands material.

The vocal style of Jens Kidman varies between hardcore-style shoutsand ‘robotic’ death metal vocals. He roams the stage like a caged lion whilst head-banging in the well-known ‘edgy’ Meshuggah fashion. Hagström firmly interlocks with Lövgren’s bass as Thorendal cut through it all with his searing solos and whale song melodies. As well as throwing a catchy riff or ten in there for good measure. Haake’s polyrhythmic and syncopated drumming pulverises the crowd’s senses.

Do Not Look Down and Bleed are particularly exquisite performances. This being the first time seeing Meshuggah live it was nice to see them at a small venue where you can truly take note of their complicated playing although I can’t help but wonder if they would be better at a festival. After 25 years, they’re still as brutal and consistently innovative as they were at the start of their career. Long live…

About Ella McClary

Music/gig/festival fanatic.. \m/