Messhugah Bring Robotic Perfection To Decimate The Fillmore


Photos and words by Joey Dunst

Going into my third time seeing Meshuggah (and gratefully, my 2nd time photographing them), I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Meshuggah had been here last year at Myth Live with Torche and Converge and – seeing the rigging on the stage – brought roughly the same tour package to that venue. Truthfully, when I first saw them with Cynic all the way back in 2008, I was dumbfounded that a band so complex could bring their sound to life so fluidly – and seeing them again last year only cemented the idea in my brain that despite the passage of time, they had only gotten better. So going into the evening, I had extremely high hopes – and I was not disappointed!

Opening up for the Immutable tour were Tennesse’s deathcore darlings Whitechapel. I also saw Whitechapel perform for the first time roughly the time I saw Meshuggah perform for the first time, and much the same, Whitechapel has only gotten better with age. Their 2021 release Kin was by miles the best album they’ve ever put together – Bozeman’s lyrical deftness refined to a crisp sheen, the band continued the diverse soundscapes they had explored leading up to Kin to create a melodic, deafening experience that creates a lasting impression. Seeing them again all these years later – their effectiveness as performers hasn’t changed at all. Their brief but effective set comprised of two songs off Kin – I Will Find You and A Bloodsoaked Symphony – and then a scattering of tracks from their other albums to fill out the rest of their performance.

In Flames were up next – and what a massive support act to have with you! Essentially birthing melodic death metal and bringing it to the mainstream, In Flames have seen a tremendous change in sound over the years, but they have always been largely the same act at their core – wonderful melody combined with captivating aggression. Somehow this tour was made up only of acts I had last seen over a decade ago, as it had been another decade and change since last seeing these Swedes decimate a stage, but nothing has changed because they are as great as ever. A true treat for the fans was Anders leading up to the presentation of Behind Space off of their first album Lunar Strain. This energy was matched when they announced their last song of the night – Come Clarity’s Take This Life.


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Finally, the main event. Meshuggah have been around the block enough times to own that block, and the foundations they put into place over 30 years ago have blossomed into an entire subgenre that has become massively popular. Despite that, no one has ever surpassed their meticulous craft, and part of that craft is the enigmatic presentation and precision that makes up their live show. Their music is seemingly impossible to comprehend being played when in the abstract, and yet each and every time, they bring it to life with perfect execution. This time was no exception – their imposing setup on stage handcrafted to give an otherworldly feel as Jens Kidman’s ominous silhouette is captured by the initial pulses to the starting notes of Broken Cog. Typically it when a metal band begins it is like a bomb going off, a shock of energy that radiates throughout the room, but Meshuggah have something different on offer – a continuous, arrhythmic pulse, an alien heartbeat that chugs along unstoppably and whose course cannot be altered. That course saw them weave through their entire discography, ending in likely their most popular song (Future Breed Machine) before a classic encore of ObZen’s Bleed and Koloss’ Demiurge. 


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