Album Reviews

Meshuggah – Alive (DVD)

  • Review by: Ankit Baraskar
This is my first DVD review. I usually don’t have the patience to watch entire concert DVD’s, the only exceptions being Death and Meshuggah. And since Meshuggah is currently fresher in my mind, I decided to write this. Sorry if it sounds like a fanboy raving about his favourite band, because that is exactly what it is.
For those who know, Meshuggah(Yiddish for “crazy”) is a band that has combine grooves in weird time signatures, intelligent (screamed) lyrics, badass tapped solos and the insanely bassy sound of 8 string guitars and a 5 string bass. The result is some of the most heavy, technical music around.

I’ll start with the live tracks and the background score listing.
01. Begin (Mind’s Mirrors)
02. Perpetual Black Second (Tokyo)
03. Twenty Two Hours 04. Pravus (Tokyo)
05. Dissemination
06. Bleed (NYC)
07. Ritual
08. New Millenium Cyanide Christ (Montreal)
09. Cleanse
10. Stengah (Montreal)
11. The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled (Montreal)12. Machine
13. Electric Red (Tokyo)
14. Solidarius
15. Rational Gaze (Tokyo)
16. Moment
17. Lethargica (Toronto)
18. Communicate
19. Combustion (Toronto) 20. Humiliative (Montreal)
21. Infinitum
22. Straws Pulled At Random (Toronto)
23. End(Future Breed Machine)

The CD features the audio files of all the live tracks. Tokyo = Loud Park Festival, the biggest heavy metal festival in Japan.

Audio: The audio is very good, and the overall sound is pretty similar to their recorded sound, especially the 8 strings and the drums. The snare and the bass has been recorded very well live, and Haake’s insanely precise drumming comes through crystal clear. Even the guitars sound nice, with the “djent” that 8 string electrics are renowned for. Though the solos in “Bleed” and “Rational Gaze” weren’t the same as the original. Most of the songs on this DVD are from Nothing and Obzen, NONE from Destroy Erase Improve, which was a bit of a disappointment. But since this was a tour to promote Obzen, it was sort of understood that they wouldn’t play much of their earlier stuff. Still, future breed machine as the ending credits track was a brilliant idea. Sort of indicates that Meshuggah are a part of the future of the metal scene and music in general.

Video: Again, well recorded, nice quality, though we could have had more footage of Haake’s bass drums and Thordendal’s and Hagstrom’s guitar close-ups, especially the unique picking technique in Bleed etc…(since all the drummers and guitarists I know are making a conscious efforts to play Bleed). A good example to quote would be Gojira’s “The Link Alive” DVD, where they did it right, which though was entirely a concert DVD, and in my opinion one of the best ones to date. Besides that the lighting etc is nice, and suited to the atmosphere that Meshuggah’s music should generate. (As Hagstrom says, Thordendal’s cousin, who knows their songs very well, and doesn’t know as much about lighting etc is in charge of all that, and knowing the songs well does make a difference).

General: Some good and some bad news in the DVD. Good news, hopefully a new album later this year. Bad news, Meshuggah won’t play Dancers To A Discordant System(spoken vocals seem a problem) and I(in Haake’s words, no one knows how I goes, it’s too random) live. Jens Kidman headbanging is something else…also his quote “Why so quiet Tokyo? You scare me…it’s like a Church…What’s the difference between a church and a metal concert? There’s usually more noise at a metal concert” and other antics are enjoyable. The DVD also manages to showcase(to an extent) the human side of the band members, though Thordendal, Lovgren are silent for the most part, and Haake and Hagstrom do most of the speaking. Maybe it’s a language problem, but still, would have liked to hear from them as well, especially from a bassist in a band with 8 string guitars.

My only complaint? This wasn’t 3 hours instead of 90 minutes. Or more. I’ve watched the damn thing thrice already, and I don’t think I’m gonna stop for quite some time, at least till they release another album. All hail Meshuggah. Everyone watch the DVD NOW. \m/