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15 Feb 2010 - San Francisco Bathhouse, Wellington
By Guy Armstrong and Jared Carson from Slave Cadaver

If you were to try and work out under what category to place Isis I guess it would be best described as stoner rock, fused with a sort of 60’s Pink Floyd-esque psychedelia. I was too busy scabbing drinks and ciggies to catch Black Boned Angel, but their drone could certainly be heard from out on the Bathhouse balcony. Napier's Jakob were tight and trippy as always, a perfect fit to support, their new song sounding particularly heavy and getting great crowd response.

Isis' sound merges into a oneness of surreality, with elements of beauty and jagged acid trips delivered with a mix of keyboards and effects. Simple, heavy, chunky riffs that kicked a lot of ass, and the crowd dug it. This is a band that permeates many genres, which is especially cool. Most of the set consisted of new material off 'Wavering Radiant' kicking off with opening track 'Hall of the Dead'. Even though I hadn’t heard much of this album beforehand, I couldn’t spot anything that sounded like it didn’t belong, though it did feel like it dragged a bit at times. They finished off the night with an encore of 'Carry' from 'Oceanic' and 'The Tower' off 'Celestial' which was cool.

The only bone of contention I had was that just when they sounded like they were about to burst into something faster or heavier, they put the brakes on, and went into outer space again. This ability to lay down the surprise is part of their charm and they do it well.

A good turnout for the lads from Isis, the venue was packed out for a Monday which was awesome to see... and you missed it because you had work in the morning? That is quite lame. Better go and listen to the CDs.

San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, Mar 3 2010
By River Tucker

The iconic venue now known as the San Francisco Bath House on Cuba Street in Wellington has seen some great acts of late but not many with such heightened anticipation as that held on the 3rd March 2010. Isis and Meshuggah, two very established but somewhat unknown bands to hit the New Zealand shores, were set to blow the roof off.

Isis contrasted their powerful and atmospheric music with quieter gothic like passages and scary industrial influenced progressions. The dark contemplative energy of Isis belies a strong foundation in well-crafted song writing, both evocative and visionary. Huge rhythmical expanses of ambient sound captivated the audience. Isis evoked images of barren deserts and stormy oceans; textures many alternative bands endeavour to achieve with their music. Hints of Primus influence and driving rhythms like 1990 stoner rockers Kyuss, with an underflow of New Zealand sound in the vein of Jakob. This Los Angeles band has triumphed where many have failed, re-inventing and challenging themselves with abstract metal music that is epic and invigorating. Isis has an extensive back catalogue of releases and their latest album Wavering Radiant is the most commercially viable to date. With their progressive, dynamic and intricate music Isis, as a three-piece, executed challenging songs with practiced precision. Intense and rhythmically contagious, Isis' short but sweet set was well worth catching.

After waiting almost an hour, Swedish metal band Meshuggah finally took to the stage. Sporting a black eye singer Jens Kidman stared down at the crowd who responded with a loud cheer. Then, the furnace of Fredrik Thordendal and Marten Hagstrom's eight stringed guitars ignited in intense detuned mastery. Power-chords enveloped the air in huge sonic waves, harmonics phased in demonic brilliance. Off beats twisted the downbeat like a python snake contorting around its victim. Venomous vocals from Jens added fuel to the fire. His lyrics of vexatious contempt towards humanity were an elixir the audience savoured. Jens menaced the crowd with his dominating presence, hissing at and enticing them to participate in the intense polyrhythms. Time signatures the band has conquered with intricate precision and ferocity. Dynamic double bass drumming full of attack and straightforward 4/4 thrash on hi-hats and crash cymbals in perfect syncopation. The contrast between drummer Thomas Haake's limbs most apparent in the second song in the set, Bleed from the album Obzen, which was played in its entirety and had a third of the packed audience moshing. Thomas hit his Sabian crash cymbal so hard it bent. At times the guitarists would headbang in unison, or stand stoically monolithic, scowling at the crowd; creating the disconcerting feeling that violence was about to ensue. Bassist Dick Lovgren was solid! Meshuggah sculled beers between songs as the San Francisco Bath House bathed in a heat wave from sweaty bodies. Condensation dripped from the roof. Meshuggah has definitely found a niche sound, one that will hopefully continue to diversify and evolve. I look forward to catching their next tour down under.

Not for the faint hearted, this concert was everything a metal gig should be: loud, aggressive and intoxicating. Meshuggah's set was particularly powerful although on occasion it was threatened by over anxious stage divers. In general the crowd was well handled by a vigilant security team. Predictable scuffles in the mosh pit were inconsequential. The sound system was very suited to the music although volume levels were at times excessive and produced some good ear ringing. The professional bar staff were kept busy by thirsty customers in what is a fantastic venue in a great location.

San Francisco Bath House, Wellington, Mar 3 2010
By Guy Armstrong from Slave Cadaver

Of all the different heavy metals, my favourites are magnesium, cobalt, aluminium and gold. Back in the 80’s I was a huge fan of barium sulphate. But nowadays I think the best metal is Meshuggah. They don’t play riffs that you or I would think of. I can say that Meshuggah has an atomic number of five, and a density of fucking heavy.

They rocked out the fully packed Bath House to a load of happy fans. People were loving it and the pit was going from start to finish. I would estimate there were about 6.023 x 1023 people at the gig.

Meshuggah is a Hebrew word meaning “a bunch of viking mathematicians smashing things while time accelerates and decelerates simultaneously and you’re drunk”. This is a pretty fitting description of Meshuggah’s music. They play faster and harder than a demolition aeroplane derby.

You might have seen me there, I was wearing my slayer top, slayer pants, slayer watch, slayer shoes, and I had my slayer colouring book and some crayons in my bumbag, along with all my narcotics.

Songs off their latest album Obzen went down a treat with fans. The incredible machine-gun riffing of Bleed was amazing to hear and see played live, and the outro to Lethargica was more epic than anything I’ve heard played in Wellington in a long time. Electric Red as the opener set the night for a morbid, industrial, irregular and yet totally wicked evening, that ended with the incredibly groovy Future Breed Machine.

Other songs off Obzen were Pravus and Combustion, From their album Nothing was Stengah, Rational Gaze, Closed Eye Visuals, and Straws Pulled at Random. The only one from Chaosphere they played was Sane. The stage at San Fran was great for watching them jam, and the sound was great. No Slayer covers, but.

Drums were pretty much perfect, loud and snappy, kicks were bassy. Guitar volume was a real good blend, one not louder than the other and had some crippling distortion on, yet retained the psychedelic, haunting feel of the album during the solos. Jens screamed at us without stopping, his vox handling a bad back and hotel hassles. It’s hard to really describe Meshuggah because you really gotta hear it. Grooves they write are so uniquely tripped up, words just don’t do it justice. If you’re not already a fan and want some interesting, groovy metal in your life, then check them out when you’ve finished that Slayer CD.

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