Jens Kidman of Meshuggah (all photos and video by Robert Hanna)
Mårten Hagström of Meshuggah
One of Sweden’s premier metal acts of the last 20 years, technical death metal purveyors Meshuggah descended upon the Showbox with an elaborate stage and lighting set up, and were filming a DVD documenting the tour with Savannah, GA’s Baroness and Polish new school death metal group Decapitated. Meshuggah has always been something of an anomaly in the death metal scene, which typically champions more of a traditional style akin to bands like Carcass and Possesed. The most striking characteristic of Meshuggah’s sound is the mind-boggling drum patterns of Tomas Haake, also a principle songwriter in the group. Haake’s machine-like drum fills almost counteract the perpetual crunching palm muted guitar riffs, as if the drums are providing counter rhythms and off-beat pulses. The result is impossibly tight, and fronted by the intensity of Jens Lindman‘s domineering stage presence, the group walks a line between being hyper-technical and hyper-brutal at the same time.
Formed back in 1987, the group made a breakthrough with the release of 1995’s Destroy Erase Improve, and were among the first metal bands to attempt to fuse serious jazz fills and progressions into death metal. While they have toured with larger acts like Slayer and Tool in the US, the group has never really breached mainstream success, but have remained constantly in the spotlight of the underground extreme metal community. While their set spanned much of their back catalogue, they were primarily performing material to support their newest release Koloss, which dropped in March of this year.
Lead Guitarist Frederik Thordendal of Meshuggah
Meshuggah live at Showbox Market
Certainly the standout of this tour was Baroness, whom have changed lineups and sound in nearly a complete departure from their more solidly sludge metal and hardcore punk-based roots. The groups first two EPs are highly celebrated in the underground punk community, a hybrid sound of d-beat hardcore punk and sludge with frenetic prog riffs. The new Baroness is far more melodic and musically driven, permeated with lots of chorus and effect-laden bluesy guitar leads over pounding drums and harmonized vocals. While certainly being the prog metal meat in a death metal sandwich on this tour, their energetic live show certainly caught some people off guard and was largely positively received. The group played material from their first two full-lengths The Red Album and The Blue Album, and much off their continued color-coded Yellow & Green Album, set to drop this July.
Guitarist and lead vocalist John Baizley of Baroness
Guitarist and vocalist Peter Adams of Baroness
John Baizley of Baroness
Opening for this tour was Poland’s premier technical death metal group Decapitated. Over the past five years the group has endured several hardships and lineup changes, including a fatal tour van accident in 2007 that took the life of their drummer Witold “Vitek” Kiełtyka, and sent their former singer Adrian “Covan” Kowanek into a coma. The group also miraculously survived the crash of LOT Polish Airlines flight 16 in November of last year. Tragedy notwithstanding, the group reformed recently with energetic vocalist Rafał Piotrowski and drummer Kerim “Krimh” Lechner, and are touring off the heels of 2011’s Carnival is Forever.
Bassist Konrad Rossa of Decapitated
Vocalist Rafał Piotrowski of Decapitated