When thinking about supports for this latest tour, you’d have to imagine that Meshuggah might have thought twice about including Animals as Leaders. The fearsome technical abilities of the musicians onstage – and guitarist Tosin Abasi in particular – was quite something to behold.
Abasi hurtled up and down his 8-string guitar so ridiculously quickly that it wouldn’t have been too surprising for him to rip off some prosthetic flesh at the end of the show and reveal a pair of bionic arms. (He didn't, in case you were wondering.)
In between the breakneck string-hopping the metal trio still clung onto and locked into a variety of shudderingly heavy grooves. It would be easy to call Animals as Leaders an exercise in emotionless technical virtuosity, though redundant when they appeared to be enjoying themselves so much, the audience scooping their jaws off the floor to greet CAFO with a healthy amount of head-banging (a surprising amount of which appeared to match the shifting time signatures).
Any worries about Meshuggah matching up to their support were dispelled almost as soon as they took to the stage, their grinding riffage titanically heavy and highly complex, guitar parts snaking around the rhythm section before latching back on with brutal (and highly satisfying) intent.
That’s all before Jens Kidman joined in, one of metal’s best vocalists in terms of wall-stripping fury -any notion of singing a sweet melody about as likely as Kidman venturing offstage for a costume change into a flower-patterned tutu. This wasn’t a show that was going to hold back in any way, excepting for a couple of moments of synth-laden atmospherics that briefly broke up the guitar-heavy onslaught.
The show was a vast improvement on their previous show at The Garage in 2008, simply because the sound was far better balanced, bringing out the best elements of the group’s terrifyingly clinical precision. (It also didn’t hurt that they wheeled out the brilliant Combustion early in the set.) Not the most visual band, being backlit helped create a sense of unease, with the shaven-headed Kidman rolling his eyes to the back of his head throughout and head-banging like some sort of possessed Satanic spiritual shaman.
The five-piece Swedish outfit were back with most recent album Koloss in tow, the show appropriately packed with colossal riffs throughout, finishing after an encore with Dancers to a Discordant System from 2008’s Obzen. Any more and they might have levelled the entire building, but you imagine Kidman needed to relax his weary vocal chords by gargling on some razor blades. This was a show that was furious and stupendous in equal measure, able even to make Sauchiehall Street feel like a place of peaceful serenity after exiting the venue.