Zippo Encore Stage
Sunday, June 10, 2018
By Eric Mackinnon
Swedish extreme metallers Meshugahh will bring their technical ear crunching riffs and complex metal arrangements to Download this summer where the Scandinavian sonic slayers have a date with festival revellers on the Zippo Encore Stage.
Since joining their creative forces in 1987, Meshuggah have crafted a cult following with their progressive and complex metal fusions of death metal with black metal, thrash and jazz fusion.
Meshuggah are far more than a cookie-cutter metal band though. They are pioneers. Innovators. The poster boys for an entire genre they helped created on their own.
They have always been the kind of band who enjoy pushing the boundaries of metal, trying out new ideas to see what works and how to make their signature sound even more distinctive.
Over the years they dipped their toes, and guitars, into a variety of ideas before settling on the now signature down-tuned, groove heavy, jittery style which is now unmistakeably Meshuggah.
They wanted to push their sound even further so guitarists Thordendal and Hagström had custom eight-string guitars made to record their parts for 2001’s Nothing to take their down tuned sound even lower.
This created a sound which had never been heard in metal before and is now accepted as Meshuggah's unique style and one a number of bands have tried to, but never come close to, replicate.
This marked the popularization of eight-stringed guitars being used in metal -- and could be considered the birth of the djent movement.
Drummer Tomas Haake holds up Metallica as the inspiration for his metal career but he says no metal band will ever scale the heights of the American legends.
“I don’t think there’s ever going to be another Metallica because you just can’t become that big any more,” says Haake. “When they came out, there wasn’t anything like them out there so they weren’t really competing with many bands. It’s a totally different scene now.”
He continued: “I got my first drum kit at seven years old. It wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 years old that I started playing with Mårten, who I grew up with in the same town. We were friends since we were six years old. He started playing guitar and we started playing around with writing songs; we had no idea how to do that.
“Metallica was still at that time the hugest and coolest thing that you could listen to. In 84 Ride the Lightning came out and that was just, wow, you know, we’ve gotta try something, we’ve gotta do something. If I had to name one album that made me want to compose and made me want to try something and create my own music it would probably be Ride the Lightning.”
He added: “The bands that we listened to when we were growing up were Slayer, Metalchurch, Metallica, and Black Sabbath, you know, even going back as far as early Saxon and Maiden and stuff. The kids that are in their late teens and twenties [today] have a completely different set of norms.
“I think it’s difficult to get noticed [today]. The attention span for everything is getting shorter and I think that comes through music as well. I’m happy that we started out when we did and we already have this footing. To be a young kid now to do that, you have to be extremely skilled as musician and with your songwriting because it takes a lot to stand out now.”