Saturday, October 08, 2005


Meshuggah, God Forbid, the Haunted, and Mnemic (who I missed), BB King's, NYC.

The Haunted play extremely Slayer-indebted retro thrash, but with a singer who's a Napalm Death-esque barker/growler, and they're pretty good at it, but I don't need a whole lot of that in my life. As the second of four bands on a bill, they're fine. I never play the albums I have by them, though.

God Forbid got an abridged set because proceedings were running late, but they tore the place down nonetheless. They're from South Jersey, and their singer is a huge dreaded black dude who can roar until you're checking your shirtfront for bloody lung-chunks. (The drummer is also black, and the two guitarists are brothers and at least mixed-race; the only straight-up white guy in the band is the bassist.) Their music is metalcore with old-school power metal lead guitar parts, and the new album is great, might even make my Top Ten for the year.

Meshuggah are as inhumanly precise live as on their albums, which is impressive enough. But they manage to actually put on a show, instead of just staring at their fingers and counting in their heads the whole time, which makes them doubly worth checking out. (They hit the riffs on 6 and 8, and unison-headbang on 3 and's kinda hilarious to watch death metal crowds, used to a straight 4/4, try to mosh to this stuff.) Fredrik Thordendal's guitar solos tend to be him striking one note, then coaxing as many bizarre harmonics out of it as he can for a half a minute or so, then hitting another note, etc., etc. He defies all metal conventions, and does so brilliantly. The set was mostly material from their 2002 album Nothing, plus a couple of excerpts from Catch 33 (their new, one-long-song disc), with a few earlier tracks from Chaosphere and Destroy, Erase, Improve (which tend to be faster and slightly more rhythmically conventional than the Nothing stuff) thrown in to keep the lifers happy. I can't recommend Meshuggah highly enough. Technically brilliant, with the alienating precision of a robot beehive, but heavy as hell, too. And frontman Jens has a great sense of humor - when the crowd started chanting "Me-shug-gah, Me-shug-gah," he let them do it about three times, then barked "Stop that nonsense!" and launched into the next song. There were also repeated calls for mass audience nudity (fortunately, unheeded). Check 'em out if they hit your town.

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