I normally find Sunday gigs to be a curse. They're quite often lukewarm and not very well-attended. I wasn't quite sure what to expect capacity-wise as I made my way to Newtown's Enmore Theatre last night. Realistically, Meshuggah, making their first appearance in Sydney since 2013, should sell out most medium sized venues across Australia, but you can never be too sure when it comes to Sunday shows.
I was slightly concerned at 8.00 when hometown heroes Thy Art Is Murder took the stage and the floor was merely half full. However, people started pouring into the venue quickly as Holy War kicked things off.
Now, I have never listened much to Thy Art Is Murder in the past. I've never really felt any desire to, as I feel that deathcore normally is about as interesting as watching paint dry, especially in a live setting. About two minutes into the second song of the evening I'm having major flashbacks to when I saw Whitechapel live for the first time. The thing is, Thy Art Is Murder is not a bad band by any means. They're extremely tight, the energy is massive, and I can understand the appeal from a “let's fucking mosh until we die”-perspective, but other than that, I will never get deathcore. The songs are extremely repetitive, and even in a fantastic venue such as The Enmore Theatre the sound is dangerously close to collapsing into a pile of rubble at any given point. The lackluster lighting (by Meshuggah's design I suspect, but nevertheless) also adds to the monotone feeling of this set.
Thy Art Is Murder
Luckily for Thy Art Is Murder not everyone in tonight's audience shares my opinion regarding the music. From the very beginning of the set people are moshing (and singing) like their lives depended on it, a good indication of how chaotic things would turn out to be during Meshuggah. For someone who apparently doesn't care about the band's haters, vocalist CJ McMahon is spending a remarkable amount of time on telling them that they might as well go to the toilet or for a smoke, as well as letting them know that they can go and fuck themselves. Extremely metal, right?!
I do commend the band for managing to get the crowd going. A lot of openers fail to do just this, but with their high energy and in your face metal they break down the mental barrier between the stage and the audience without any trouble whatsoever, and they're setting things up perfectly for the headliner.
At 9.20 the lights go out for one last time (well, sort of...) and the Swedish legends enter the stage one by one only to unleash absolute and total hell on the Sydney audience in the shape of Clockworks. Born in Dissonance and Sane follow in rapid succession and there's no doubt that this is one of the heaviest sets that has ever been performed at the Enmore Theatre.“Good evening, Sydney” Jens Kidman proclaims. That's about all the time he wastes on unnecessary small talk, as the opening riff of Perpetual Black Second sends the Sydney crowd into a second wave of face crushing moshing.
After this, the formula is very much the same for the remainder of the set. Musically speaking, Meshuggah is one of the most gifted bands I have witnessed live. They are also one of the most professional ones, but that's not only a positive. I probably haven't listened to Meshuggah as much as I should have done over the years, but even so, I feel that their performance is very much ruled by routine. The light show is gorgeous and timed to absolute perfection, but not once during the performance can I get a proper look at the band members, which is a big shame. I'm not only at a concert to listen to the band's music, but also to see, and on some level, connect with them. I feel that Meshuggah's stage setup and approach creates a rift between the band and parts of the audience. Sure, most people that are caught in a mosh for the entirety of the set couldn't give a damn, but for those who like to enjoy watching a band play as well listening, it must be at least a tiny bit disappointing. As a fan of progressive/experimental metal, I had been looking forward to watching the legendary drummer that is Tomas Haake at work, something that was near impossible, because I simply couldn't see what was happening on stage.
Other than this I can't really fault Meshuggah at all. Tonight's set was musical perfection in every sense of the word, and all in all I don't think any fan left the Enmore disappointed. Demiurge and Future Breed Machine are the last songs for the evening and even though I'm still not the biggest Meshuggah fan in the world, I feel slightly blessed for having experienced them live finally.
All photography taken by & © Copyright of Rhiannon Hopley / RH Photography & Design
STRICTLY not to be used without permission.
Thy Art Is Murder