Where quantum mechanics meet heavy metal

Meshugga ****** (6 stars out of 6); May 5 at Lille Vega

What is heavier than uranium, more terrifying than the clown from Stephen King's It, and  more cataclysmic than the destruction of Atlantis? The answer is Swedish band Meshuggah, who played an astoundingly fantastic concert on Sunday night, a complete and seamless performance from the perfectionist progressive metallers. The name Meshuggah is Yiddish for ‘crazy’, and it doesn't get more befitting. This quintet stunned the audience into submission through a two-hour gig accompanied by incredible visuals.

Fellow Swedes Kongh were invited to open for Meshuggah. Kongh play doom metal, and as the name entails, their music is the soundtrack to purgatory: wickedly slow, creepy and heavier than Copenhagen's metro construction. Kongh played an hour of their well-constructed Doom, but did no more, there was virtually no crowd interaction. I expected better showmanship from them.

As the lights switched off, the intensity in the audience grew and the screams from the largely male-dominated audience were louder than ever. Meshuggah entered with an eerie intro displaying a potential theme of the night: humanity vs machines. In the bluntest of terms, Meshuggah's metal can be best described as a new technology. Their use of odd-time signatures, combined with 8-string guitar riffs and demonic growls, are constructed in a way that only the brainiest of scientists could decipher their work.

The first track ‘Swarm’ had the crowd being stunned into a hypnotic stance rather than moshing. With the light show fitting perfectly to every single’s beat, nuance and theme, the light technician could be considered Meshuggah's sixth man. Songs like ‘ObZen’ brought the audience into a fully fledged mosh pit, and the almost ritualistic head banging overtook even the most static of guests at the show. The crowd pleaser ‘Bleed’ was played with an astounding precision that characterizes all of Meshuggah’s music, while yet another highlight was the subhuman bombastic bone-crusher ‘Demiurge’. Ending in a fitting manner, the rockers left the stage after ‘Dancers to A Discordant System’, and returned to perform both ‘In Death – Is Life’ and ‘In Death – Is Death’ to seal the night on one of the most epic performances yet in Lille Vega.

Meshuggah's metal is hard to digest, so for new listeners who are intrigued, be warned – they play music you thought was impossible. It's quantum physics in music form. Their show at Lille Vega can only be criticised if you expected banter with the audience and cheeky smiles – but instead, the band channelled all of their energy into producing a gig for the ages, where sound, visuals and atmosphere were out of this world. Please come again, Meshuggah!