The Haunted are one of my all-time favorite bands. Ok their recent albums may never have reached the heights of the first three releases and you might say constant lineup changes and breaks for At The Gates reunion tours have hampered their momentum somewhat. But all that doesn't take anything away from one of the most intense live performances of any band on the circuit today.
Having seen them live with both Peter Dolving and Marco Aro previously it's nice to have the latter back on vocals tonight. A commanding voice and a towering figure screaming “BURY YOUR DEAD” right in your face. What more could any thrash fan want?
A ferocious pace is set by drummer Adrian Erlandsson and Jonas Björler, laying the land for the assault of dual guitars from Ola Englund and Patrik Jenson. This is thrash metal at its finest. Aro steers them through a heady mix of songs spanning the breadth of their career but the best is saved for last, the eerie atmospheric Dark Intentions leads perfectly into the aforementioned Bury Your Dead, before the tantalizing finish that was Hate Song.
Onto Meshuggah and I really am taking a trip down memory lane for this one. Just 22 short years ago Meshuggah were the very first band that this impressionable 15-year-old saw live, when they opened for Machine Head on the Burn My Eyes tour.
Whilst they have never been in my top 5 bands (that is a hard list to penetrate) I have always held a soft spot for the Swedish extreme metal ensemble. Back in 1995 it was the aggressive wall of noise that hit me, I’d never heard of them before and I just stood there jaw hitting the floor thinking “what the hell is this” and “why haven’t I heard of them before”.
They have come a long way since that show in my distant, youthful past. No longer an opening act they now headline (and sell out) the venues they once opened in, and rightly so following 2016’s epic release of The Violent Sleep of Reason.
Tonight we are presented with a light show of colossal proportions, one which would rival any light show from far bigger bands. Their lighting engineer alone shows tremendous skills and adds a value to the show that could almost make him the 6th member of the band.
Opening with two new songs that highlight the strength of the new album Jens Kidman steers them through a set with a menacing presence and showcasing his vocal range.
Following on; the set traverses through a career spanning eight albums, song after song of extreme progressive experimentalism that has us all watching on in awe. The technical expertise on each instrument show by all members of the band stand them a cut above the rest and brutality of it all literally melts your face!
The evening is rounded out with Future Breed Machine from the bands seminal album Destroy Erase Improve. Technically excellent, musically extreme but subtly exquisite. It may have been my first gig of the year, but this one is going to be hard to top.
All Photos by Tim Finch