Show Review: Meshuggah, In Flames, and Whitechapel at the Hard Rock Casino of Northwest Indiana in Gary, IN

Whitechapel kicked off the night by unleashing their chaotic and brutal death metal/deathcore combination that made them so popular. Named after the Whitechapel district in England where Jack the Ripper committed their series of murders, it’s no surprise they came ready to be equally as brutal. Filled with sheer intensity and energy, Whitechapel know how to make an entrance. While their sound may have undergone some variations over the years, their commitment to remaining obnoxiously heavy hasn’t changed. With a short but stacked set list featuring “The Saw is the Law,” “I Will Find You,” “A Bloodsoaked Symphony,” and more, Whitechapel knew how to make a fast impression in the time they had.

Legends in their own right, In Flames are probably one of the most lowkey important pioneers for heavy music without receiving the widespread acclaim that they deserve. Not only were In Flames metalcore pioneers, but they also pioneered what would become known as melodic death metal or Swedish death metal. Combining the melodic guitar style of Iron Maiden with the heavy intensity of death metal, In Flames wanted to create something holistically unique and different from anything at the time. By including the usage of keyboards and harmonized guitar melodies and a combination of varying vocal stylings, In Flames continued to have a massive impact in heavy music that would inspire and influence generations of future artists.

With 20 years of experience, it’s no surprise that In Flames can deliver accordingly in their live performance. While it would have been cool to see them play some of their more popular classics and tracks that made them big, In Flames still performed a decently well-rounded setlist of old songs and new tracks, recognizing what the people wanted … a nonstop, hard-hitting metal show. That iconic “Gothenburg sound” of melody and aggression was so cool to experience live and really makes you appreciate their out-of-the-box thinking so many years ago, while also making you realize just how many bands after them took inspiration. In Flames lives up to the reputation of putting on a devastating and crowd-moving live show.

Awaiting the metal juggernauts to come out, you could really feel the anticipation in the air from the packed Hard Rock Live, or maybe it was my personal excitement to finally see this legendary band for the first time. It didn’t take long for the lights to shut off and a pulse to be set off throughout the venue announcing Meshuggah’s imminent arrival with each member spread evenly apart from one another, almost like generals standing above their army, only to be met by thundering chanting and applause before they unleash their heart-stopping, pummeling sonic assault.

That sequence in Oppenheimer during his college years where he experiences dizzying light arrays representing the cosmos filled with fast-paced cuts, an incredible soaring soundtrack, and the feeling of being a small particle in a massive universe was equivalent to seeing Meshuggah live, to the point where it’s almost impossible to describe.

Meshuggah developed their very own style and sound that is often imitated, but will always just be a watered-down version compared the originals. Consisting of some of the most technical and talented musicians in modern metal, Meshuggah developed some of the most technical, complex, and heavy music that metal has ever encountered. This distinct progressive groove-infused extreme death metal, created in the equally as extreme land of Sweden, is not only mind-bending but is so ahead of its time it resulted in creating a new sub-genre of music called djent. Known for their innovative song structures and timing, rapid tempo changes, polyrhythms, and polymetered riff cycles, cross-rhythm drumming, and even jazz fusion, Meshuggah have never heard the word limitations because they’re constantly shattering all preconceived notions of metal and really music overall.

Being able to experience and witness these incredible musicians first-hand is such an awesome experience that it makes you wish it could never end. Not only that, but it makes you appreciate just how talented they truly are as you watch everything unfold right before your eyes. It makes sense now when fans talk about this band developing an almost cult-like obsession around them … yet you can’t blame the fans at all. The level of musicianship is at the highest peak imaginable, making everyone around them appear like amateurs.

Metal can often find itself repeating time and time again, churning out the same concoctions every few years, especially within the more extreme metal genres, thus you quickly find yourself acknowledging how so much of the same there is outside of the few originators or groundbreaking bands. Meshuggah are the outlier here, creating music that almost goes beyond music itself, etching out a spot among the leaders and legends of metal for themselves.

Performing a crushing nearly hour and a half including hits such as “Bleed,” “Rational Gaze,” “Born in Dissonance,” and more, Meshuggah were masters at work and in their element absolutely locked in and plowing through their set without any serious breaks or stage banter. Meshuggah live is a cerebral, out-of-body experience as you get to witness their astonishing and incredible musicianship, creative and groundbreaking approach to metal, hard-hitting and groovy riffs, and fully immersive experience, Meshuggah are worshipped in the metal world for good reason.

Meshuggah

In Flames

Whitechapel

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