Meshuggah/God Forbid/The Haunted/Mnemic Live In Vancouver: October 24, 2005

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Meshuggah/God Forbid/The Haunted/Mnemic
Monday, October 24, 2005
Croatian Cultural Centre
Vancouver, BC  Canada


**Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

Dubbed as “The Fury of The Fall Tour,” the line-up of Swedish math-metallers,  Meshuggah, fellow countrymen, neo-thrashers The Haunted, American metalcore giants God Forbid and Denmark’s “future fusion metal” of Mnemic, promised to be a few hours of head-banging, head-scratching and head-throbbing and sure enough, my prediction was true.

While I was pretty high last year on Mnemic’s latest release, THE AUDIO-INJECTED SOUL, the band left me a bit flat in the live setting.  The CD is extremely “full” sounding with a lot of background effects and sampled passages that really open up the musical landscape but without them, the band sounds like a generic clone of countless other metal bands.  In all fairness, the sound would be nearly impossible to reproduce live but if a band chooses to populate its studio recordings with this many bells and whistles, then they have to expect that fans coming out to the shows will be let down when the songs are stripped bare.  Some may argue that a band’s more organic approach (ie. guitars, bass, drums and vocals) is the true test of what they are made of, but if Strapping Young Lad, notorious for their huge wall of sound on CD, can still give a punishing live show, then what is Mnemic’s excuse?  Even Fear Factory, who Mnemic have been compared endlessly to, is able to reproduce their heavily engineered sound on stage.  Maybe the new singer, Tony Jelencovich, who has only been in the band a few months, is the reason but Mnemic just did not seem to gel on stage.  The best cuts from THE AUDIO-INJECTED SOUL were played during Mnemic’s 30-minute set, including “Door 2.12,” “Deathbox” and “Jack Vegas” but they really lacked that “oomph” that made them so powerful on record.  Maybe it was an off-night, or maybe it was the new singer still searching for his footing, but Mnemic really did nothing for me live.  Big disappointment…

Jack Vegas
Sane Vs. Normal
Door 2.12


After the lead balloon of Mnemic, Sweden’s The Haunted had nowhere to go but up.  They were definitely one of the highlights on Ozzfest’s second stage this past summer and they tore up the stage on this night, as well.  Their forty-minute set drew heavily from last year’s rEVOLVEr release and was an excellent mix of the old and new, although tracks from 2003’s ONE KILL WONDER were surprisingly absent.  The spastic energy of frontman Peter Dolving was infectious and the crowd gave the band a huge response.  Dolving’s face was beet red and he appeared to be nearing an aneurysm during the vocals of “No Compromise,” while “99” was just as intense.  “Hate Song” from the band’s 1998 self-titled debut carries as much crushing weight live and with Dolving on vocals, the songs is done the way it was supposed to be.  On the flipside, “Abysmal” is a dark, brooding track which Dolving’s mix of clean and harsh vocals makes even more powerful live.  Anders Bjorler’s leads, especially on the solo in “99,” were executed perfectly, while Patrick Jensen’s riffing provided the icing on the cake for “All Against All.”  The Haunted’s first (and last) visit to Vancouver was way back in November 2001 supporting the MADE ME DO IT album and now that Dolving has returned to the fold, there is definitely a renewed energy that shows within the band.  This night, also being Dolving’s birthday, saw The Haunted cement their place in the psyches of Vancouver metalheads by doing what they do best—hard, fast and heavy!

No Compromise
Nothing Right
In Vein
Hate Song
All Against All
Dark Intentions
Bury Your Dead

God Forbid’s 2004 release, GONE FOREVER, just missed my Top 10 last year (it was #11) and with IV: THE CONSTITUTION OF TREASON just hitting stores, it is looking good that that release will make a run for my list this year, too.  Having seen God Forbid twice previously, I knew exactly what to expect from the band and they did not disappoint.  The ominous presence of frontman Byron Davis coupled with the amazing vocal harmonies and razor-sharp guitar work from brothers Doc and Dallas Coyle punctuate the metalcore perfection of God Forbid.  The fact that the band is 80% African-American makes them instantly stand out from the usual metal circle and in a humorous twist, the band has taken the logo from the BACK TO THE FUTURE films and changed it to read “Black To The Future” on their t-shirts.  The band has obviously worked its way into the metal collective mind as they received the greatest response of the evening.  Sadly, Davis was plagued with mike problems right from the start and a good chunk of openers “The End of The World” and “Force Fed” were done with vocals that would come and go.  Once the problem was rectified, the brilliant “Anti-Hero” levelled the crowd with flawless soloing and a furious breakdown.  Doc Coyle handles the majority of the solos and on the new track, “Chains of Humanity,” the band hits a more melodic tone but still maintains plenty of the heavy.  “Broken Promise,” taken from 2002’s breakthrough, DETERMINATION, is still among the band’s heaviest songs and is simply brutal live.  The killer breakdown was executed without a fault and the ensuing circle pit had bodies moving like an F5 tornado.  “Better Days” is perhaps the best example of the band’s harmonizing abilities and the dual guitar play really sizzled live.  Despite missing their last Vancouver stop (Davis chalked it up to “bullshit”), God Forbid made up for lost time and kicked some serious ass.  IV: THE CONSTITUTION OF TREASON will only up their blue book value and early buzz has it as a standout for 2005.  I said it in February 2004 upon the release of GONE FOREVER and from what I have heard so far, 2005 might not be too shabby for them, either.   

The End of The World
Force Fed
Into The Wasteland
Chains of Humanity
Better Days
Broken Promise

Whoever thought that Snoop Dogg would be good house music for a metal show should have their head examined, but such was the case between God Forbid’s set and Meshuggah’s.  While I opted out of getting jiggy with the blunt-infused beats with the rest of my nizzle’s (fo shizzle!!), I did get a chance to meet up with the newest writer at Metal Rules: “Pataklysm!”  Look for his stuff coming soon.  Photographing Meshuggah was a real issue as they chose to use strobe lighting that shone towards the stage from behind the band.  This not only wreaks havoc on the camera’s focusing system but also produces shadowy and/or dark shots, so please excuse the sub-par photos of Meshuggah.  Photo snafus aside, the strobe effects did produce a very cool and fitting ambience for Meshuggah’s odd-timed, unorthodox style of metal.  Using eight-string guitars and six-string basses, Meshuggah creates an entirely different and unique musical landscape.  This being my second time seeing Meshuggah, I was hoping for a more interesting show than when they were here in 2003 with Strapping Young Lad opening.  I love Meshuggah on CD but they are hideously boring live and, sadly, such was the case again.  The music is intense, angry and fascinatingly technical, but at the same time, 40-45 minutes of Meshuggah is all I can take in one shot.  It’s just too monotonous and I made it about ¾ of the way through their set before I had to pack it in.  Jens Kidman’s underbite/head shake combo and wacky stage movements get to be redundant very early on but the rest of the band are less reeled in on stage.  “Rational Gaze” and “Stengah” simply crush live and the riffing of Fredrik Thordendal and Marten Hagstrom on these tracks is phenomenal.  “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled” and “Soul Burn,” in all their herky-jerky glory, showcased the band’s early-to-middle period of cold and chaotic arrangements, while the latest Meshuggah release, CATCH 33, a 50-minute song split into 13 parts, was unleashed as a medley containing “Mind’s Mirrors,” “In Death – Is Life” and two or three others.  Unfortunately, nothing was played from CONTRADICTIONS COLLAPSE but hearing “New Millennium Christ” was worth the trip alone, so it was at that point that I decided to pack it in.

The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled
Soul Burn
Rational Gaze
Perpetual Black Second
Catch 33 Medley
New Millennium Cyanide Christ
Straws Pulled At Random
Future Breed Machine

The opening band was a major disappointment for me and the closing band failed to impress me much, either.  Mnemic is a studio band, plain and simple, and Meshuggah’s monotony gets grating after a short period of time.  However, the two middle bands stole the show and with The Haunted and God Forbid making waves in North America, they will be the headliners soon enough.  Still, this four band bill made for an entertaining Monday night and the relatively cheap ticket price should not deter anyone from checking this tour out.

**Thanks to Jamie at House of Blues Canada for the press pass and to Hannah at Nuclear Blast Records and George at Century Media Records for photo approval.

Meshuggah’s official site
God Forbid’s official site
The Haunted’s official website
official website