It was gathering of metal titans as Meshuggah, Animals As Leaders, and Intronaut blasted through Philadelphia’s TLA venue last month. When you cover as many shows as we do, sometimes it’s interesting to be thrown a curve ball. Such was the pitch, as we arrived to find out Meshuggah vocalist, Jens Kidman, was out of commission with a bought of the flu.
The result was a BTS first- Meshuggah decided the best coarse was to prop up a blow-up-doll in the front of stage, tape its fake hand and a mic to the chest with cardboard head of Jens strapped on top with a ball-gag. This, while having a recorded vocal track (presumably from their live DVD) play over the remaining 4/5 of the band. Ballsy. No doubt. But for a Philly crowd of rowdy metal fans?
Much to our surprise, heads took it in stride. Being a band on tour from the other side of the Globe, there are simply not many options when a man goes down in such a scenario. And Philly fans pretty much got it. Crowd reactions were mixed to be sure. Some laughed, some thought is was “Awesome they played anyway,” while others tapped their man back with a “What the fuck?. Dude.” But few left early because of it. The lack of a frontman allowed ample time to drool over the otherworldly time signatures that the musicians rifle off with unparalleled ease. Many rocked out undaunted to selections from the band’s latest LP Koloss, which debuted at number 17 in the United States, the band’s and Nuclear Blast Records‘ highest position on the charts.
All this following a set by none other than Animals As Leaders, a three piece outfit, who seamlessly trade virtuoso guitar licks across two 8-eight string guitars and one quite ambidextrous drummer. I guess you could say the crowd was prepared for something a little outside of the box by the time Meshuggah hit the stage. Animals As Leaders recently announced it’s calling Sumerian Records home along with their pals and rather outspoken fans in The Dillinger Escape Plan (who, we might add, streamed their first new song in three years today). But let us focus on the talent at hand- When it comes to progressive metal, it’s hard to top this instrumental beast of a three-piece. It will be interesting to see where they go next with a Sumerian release slated to pop in the next year.
Having spent the better part of the 2000s honing live performances with bands like Kylesa, Tool, and Mastodon, it was not surprising to see Intronaut had the honors of opening this bill for a solid grip of supporters who had no trouble keeping up with the sweeping time signatures and mathy mashups. Intronaut is preparing to release it’s forth LP, Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words With Tones), and third for longtime label Century Media Records on March 19th. MetalSucks.net premiered a new song from the forthcoming effort that can be streamed below.
Without further ado, enjoy an exclusive set of photos for your viewing pleasure by Blow The Scene Senior Photographer, Dante Torrieri (Useless Rebel Imaging).