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DSC 6109Rockhal, Esch sur Alzette, Luxembourg
22nd May 2022
Meshuggah - “Europe 2022” - Support: Zeal & Ardor

MESHUGGAH’s success is in some ways almost a phenomenon, as the polyrhythmic Tech-Metal pioneers do not make the easiest music. With 35 years of experience, it is more than deserved. This success was also shown at the Rockhal on Sunday. The Swedes were standing in front of an almost sold-out Rockhal that night and presented their new record called ‘Immutable’ to the Grand-Duchy. The Swiss band ZEAL & ARDOR were also part of the line-up. An evening that promised a lot of headbanging.

Zeal & Ardor

ZEAL & ARDOR is a Swiss Avant-Garde Metal band founded and led by Manuel Gagneux, a Swiss-American musician who had previously created a Chamber Pop project called BIRDMASK. Formed in 2013, the band mixes sounds of African-American spirituals with Black Metal. Initially a solo project, the band signed with MVKA records in 2016 and expanded to a full line-up, with Gagneux on vocals and guitar, backing vocalists Denis Wagner and Marc Obrist, guitarist Tiziano Volante, bassist Mia Rafaela Dieu, and drummer Marco Von Allmen. The project started in New York City, but is now based in Basel, Switzerland. ZEAL & ARDOR have released the albums ‘Devil Is Fine’ (2016), and ‘Stranger Fruit’ (2018), as well as a demo album ‘Zeal and Ardor’ (2014). In 2020, they released their first EP, ‘Wake of a Nation’. A third studio album, ‘Zeal & Ardor’, was released in February 2022.

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Music & Performance
It was a hot Sunday evening, and the audience was ready to blow off some steam in the Rockhal. While they were waiting, you could hear calm piano music that was accompanied by soft choirs. It was very mysterious and set the mood perfectly for what came next! ZEAL & ARDOR entered the stage punctually at 8pm and started their set with ‘Church Burns’. The intro begins with the vocals, followed by a tambourine, clean guitars, and a piano. It then unfolds into a hard-hitting Southern Rock / Soul song, which is quite interesting! The following song called ‘Götterdämmerung’ had a different feeling with aggressive black metal screams, mixed with stomping rhythms and some clean parts. The next songs were a mix of Soul, Southern Rock, Dark Blues, and lots of influences from modern Metal music.

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I have personally not heard of ZEAL & ARDOR before, so it was the first time I saw them live and heard their music. I was pleasantly surprised since it wasn’t something you would expect for a MESHUGGAH support act. They have definitely sparked my interest, and I’m looking forward to what ZEAL & ARDOR has to bring in the future!

01. Church Burns
02. Götterdämmerung
03. Ship on Fire
04. Row Row
05. Blood in the River
06. Gravedigger’s Chant
07. Run
08. We Can’t Be Found
09. Trust No One
10. Death to the Holy
11. Don’t You Dare
12. Devil Is Fine
13. J-M-B
14. Feed the Machine
15. I Caught You
16. Baphomet

Music: 8
Performance: 9
Sound: 7
Light: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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MESHUGGAH is a Swedish Extreme Metal band formed in Umeå, Sweden in 1987. Since its formation, the band has released nine studio albums, six EPs, and eight music videos. Their latest studio album, ‘Immutable’, was released on 1 April 2022 via Atomic Fire Records. MESHUGGAH has become known for their innovative musical style and their complex, poly-metered song structures, and polyrhythms. Due to the complex rhythms and tempo changes, it is also common to classify it as Progressive Metal. The band classifies itself as Experimental Metal. They rose to fame as a significant act in extreme underground music, became an influence for Modern Metal bands, and gained a cult following. In the late 2000s, the band was an inspiration for the Djent subgenre.

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Music & Performance
While the audience was waiting for the polyrhythmic madness and the low rumble of 8-string guitars, the FOH engineer was playing some 8-bit versions of a few well-known classics. Right before MESHUGGAH entered the stage, he played ‘Careless Whisper’ by GEORGE MICHAEL and the audience started cheering! As usual, MESHUGGAH started their set with an obscure intro, which set the mood for the first song called ‘Broken Cog’. The song started off with a rhythmic intro on the guitars, bass, kick, and toms, followed by a lead guitar and occasional accents on the snare. The rhythms were perfectly supported by light panels behind the musicians. Soon Jens Kidman joined with ominous clean vocals, and the song later unfolded into an ambient and hard-hitting verse.

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The following song was called ‘Light in the Shortening Fuse’ and it’s also part of their recently released album called ‘Immutable’. Of course, it wouldn’t be a MESHUGGAH song without the syncopations. Believe it or not, the time signature is actually 4/4! With ‘Rational Gaze’ they went back to 2002 and the ‘Nothing’ album. ‘Pravus’ started off with a very hectic and crazy intro and the lights went totally nuts! Everything was perfectly synchronized and the light show really emphasized the accents. This was highlighted by the song called ‘The Hurt that Finds You First’. Already the snare drum build-up was accentuated by the light show. Each accent was perfectly underlined and it was a delightful experience!

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Jens kept his announcements short and rational, which allowed for more extreme goodness! All in all, it was an awesome experience and I would recommend everyone to go see MESHUGGAH if the opportunity arises.

01. Broken Cog
02. Light in the Shortening Fuse
03. Rational Gaze
04. Pravus
05. The Hurt that Finds You First
06. Ligature Marks
07. Born in Dissonance
08. In Death - Is Life
09. In Death - Is Death
10. The Abysmal Eye
11. Straws Pulled at Random
12. Demiurge
13. Future Breed Machine

Music: 9
Performance: 8
Sound: 9
Light: 10
Total: 9 / 10

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All Pictures by Elena Arens

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