Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Melt Your Face! Meshuggah, Cynic, and The Faceless Concert Review...

Bands: Meshuggah, Cynic, The Faceless

Venue: House of Blues, Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, California

Date: February 3, 2009

North American metal fans have been salivating over the prospects of this tour featuring Meshuggah, the newly restored Cynic, and The Faceless, incredible technical musicians all, but I wasn’t necessarily one of them. Although I certainly appreciate all of these bands, none of them reside in my favorite genres of choice. Frankly, I wasn’t really planning on hitting this tour, considering the concerts and festivals that are going to be hitting Los Angeles this spring. However, after a truly horrible, and tragic, week (from my "other life"), and after finding out that all of my metal buddies were going to be there, I decided at the last minute to head out to the HOB Sunset Strip in West Hollywood to catch the show. Making matters easier was the fact that I had just won a couple of hundred dollars in a Super Bowl betting pool, and it was burning a hole in my pocket.

At any rate, I’ve seen The Faceless a couple of times previously and I was never all that impressed. However, “Planetary Duality”, the band’s second full-length and coming after some tour experience, is a good album, so I was hoping that would go a long way towards improving The Faceless’ stage craft. Luckily, my predictions were correct as The Faceless were very tight throughout their energetic set. The beyond sold out HOB crowd was very appreciative of The Faceless’ performance, going so far as audience members sort of inventing a new form of pit slamming featuring a crab walk of sorts. The Faceless were excellent throughout their short set.

Let’s be honest, Cynic can really no longer be considered a metal band; they’re a progressive rock band with a few heavy moments. “Traced In Air” has been well-received (see my review below), but the band that kick started a sub-genre of death metal in the late 80s/ early 90s is long gone. Nevertheless, Cynic were afforded the respect that they deserve as virtuosos by the HOB crowd throughout their set. Although technically precise, I found Cynic’s performance to be a bit too long, and low key, although the closer, “Integral Birth”, was up tempo.

The jam packed crowd at the HOB was there to see Meshuggah, who just dominated the stage with a crushing performance. To be honest, my level of familiarity with Meshuggah is close to non-existent, but I can attest to an overpowering performance from the band, particularly that of vocalist Jens Kidman. At any rate, the crowd certainly got their money’s worth as Meshuggah just roared. Maybe it’s time for me to go through Meshuggah’s back catalogue…

Overall, a good show, with a little something for everyone...

Here's the usual garbage...

The pics...

The Faceless



The t-shirt haul...

The awful video...

The Faceless



Here's my review of "Traced In Air" from Live 4 Metal.

Cynic- Traced In Air

(Season Of Mist)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have a copy of “Focus”, the discographies of all the progressive/ jazz-oriented Floridian death metal outfits such as Atheist, Pestilence (yeah, I know, they’re Dutch), and so forth, but you probably wouldn’t be shocked to hear that my tastes have always veered towards the more brutal side of the Floridian genre. So, although many have been hungrily awaiting the long overdue second full-length from Cynic, entitled “Traced In Air” on Season Of Mist, I was just kind of sort of awaiting its release with mild interest. Well, it falls to me to review the album for L4M.

First of all, all of you technical musicians and/ or progressively oriented jazz aficionados out there will no doubt rejoice to hear that “Traced In Air” is a musical tour-de-force from Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert, and crew with plenty of jaw dropping musicianship, stellar production, quirky time changes, mature songwriting and so on. But, then again, you would, of course, expect as such from such an accomplished group of musicians. So, with that in mind, for that audience, “Traced In Air” comes with my enthusiastic recommendation.

But. Yes, there is a “but”. Make no mistake, any traces of death metal from years past with “Focus” are now essentially long gone. There are one or two moments on “Traced In Air” with guttural vocals, and even a speedier moment or two, but this album is purely progressive rock (albeit with a heavy sound) with elements of free form jazz. In fact, I would be hard-pressed, at times, to label this as a metal album, as Cynic have embraced the melodious side of their musical natures in full, and seem to have dismissed death metal as a brief flirtation from their youth.

As artists, Cynic certainly can do whatever they wish in an artistic sense, but those of you looking for the next technical death metal masterpiece in “Traced In Air” may be disappointed. Still, “Traced In Air” is a great album, but it is what it is.

Cynic MySpace (Official)


Etan said...

Awesome to see you at the Meshuggah show, Dave, if only briefly! Cynic felt a little flat to me, I think it was mostly the live mixing and also the very different energy they bring to live performance than the other two bands on the bill. There was no way I was going to miss them live though. Traced In AIr was one of my favorite albums of 2008.

Invisible Oranges said...

Yes, Meshuggah bring the goods live (and on record). I've seen them twice - awesome both times. They are one of the most original bands working today.