Meshuggah - Alive CD/DVD
Nuclear Blast
Meshuggah Metal
Disc 1: 23 songs (1:45:00) Disc 2: 12 songs (1:05:00)
Release year: 2010
Meshuggah, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Let's be honest, despite their many years in the business Meshuggah aren't the first band you'd think of as deserving a live album. I was cynical the moment I heard about Alive, thinking that the Swedes' pulverising technicality probably needs a studio's perfect sheen for the full nightmarish impact. And, in a way, Alive is immediately disappointing because it's not a complete performance. Instead, it's a collection of live clips, recorded in various locations including Tokyo, New York and Montreal on the band's 2008 tour, interposed with random black & white clips of the band waiting to go on stage, having interviews or just joking around. Why can't we have the proper concert experience, rather than this carefully dissected and reanimated best-of? I want to see the band coming on stage and leaving it - Rush's past couple of DVDs setting a standard that most Metal labels seem to ignore when putting these packages together. Another minor moan, but an important one: here, as ever, subtitles are nonexistent, which may not be that much of a problem if you're fairly used to European accents like I am but I can see Americans needing to concentrate more, and really there is no excuse for not providing them for the moments when the band are speaking in their native Swedish.

This, taken with that mildly silly Alien-referring cover art, had me a little disappointed before I really started watching, yet there's more than enough to make Alive worthy of purchase for fans. The live clips shown on the DVD are undoubtedly impressive, shot in clear, high quality with pretty damn excellent sound. It begins with Perpetual Black Second in Tokyo, the band members spread out and intensely engaged in mechanically synchronised headbanging as they crank out their technical pound under flickering lights. Again, the sound is excellent and suitably bottom-heavy, only vocalist Jens ever sounding less than the full studio impact, although it's clear from his facial contortions and a worryingly throbbing vein that he's doing his best and is fully involved. Pravus in Tokyo is one of many highlights, the eerie blue lighting fitting the band's philosophical sci-fi atmospherics, and Bleed in New York simply kills, the audience more than making up for the band's onstage stillness. That eerie synth melody in the middle soon gives way to strobe-light enhanced piledriving riffage, and intensity is at an absolute maximum, something that you can say for all of the live performances here.

All credit to Meshuggah themselves, nothing really strikes a dull note. I especially enjoyed Stengah and The Mouth Licking What You've Bled being shown together, from the same show in Montreal (again, why couldn't we have had a whole concert?) and Electric Red and Rational Gaze from Tokyo (probably the best tracks were from the Japanese shows, due to the larger venue and incredible crowd response) are little short of mindblowing. There's not much to speak of in terms of camera angles, the crew mixing it up and focusing more on the band than the audience (although there is one cool bit interjecting Jens' headbang-nodding with a fan going crazy and clearly having an amazing time). Interestingly, the live CD in this package sorts the songs by venue, so they do work together better and considering that there's not a great deal that's worth seeing more than once on the DVD, I wouldn't be surprised if most people just played the CD, especially since the sound is, as on the DVD, truly excellent.

In terms of bonus features, things aren't that spectacular. We get the Bleed music video from obZen (an absolute mindfuck that's even more disturbing when in DVD quality), and an eight-minute making-of which features interviews with the guys behind the video - probably the most interesting part of the whole DVD, really, showing how much work the production team put into creating the piece, which as those who have seen it will know is impressively artistic. Otherwise, there's something just over a minute long showing you the guitars used, and a quick (three-minute) tour of Tomas Haake's drumkit, which will really only be of interest to drummers and extreme fans. Overall, Alive comes over as a package directed fully at fans rather than new listeners from the odd tracklisting alone (Lethargica and Humiliative, but no Beneath, and Future Breed Machine only appearing over the credits?!) and really, it's hard to see those new to the band being anything but terrified by the almighty racket which you have to know the songs to appreciate, as amazingly clear and gorgeous as the sound is. Meshuggaheads everywhere will throw the horns and headbang to this until their orifices bleed; it's a nice addition to the band's discography, and sure to get future plays, although I'll always reach for the studio albums first. It says a lot for Alive that the quality is good enough to make me seriously consider that a while before truthfully answering, something you can't say for many modern Metal live albums.

Killing Songs :
All, especially Perpetual Black Second, Pravus, Bleed, New Millenium Cyanide Christ, Stengah, Electric Red, Rational Gaze
Goat quoted no quote
Other albums by Meshuggah that we have reviewed:
Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Meshuggah - Koloss reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Meshuggah - Destroy Erase Improve reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Meshuggah - Contradictions Collapse & None reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Meshuggah - obZen reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:53 am
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