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  • Writer's pictureThe Metal Mayan

Meshuggah, In Flames, Whitechapel @ Toyota Oakdale Theater

As the doors of the Toyota Oakdale Theater opened, concert goers made their way in barely able to contain their excitement. Located in the town of Wallingford, Connecticut, while certainly large enough to accomodate major touring acts, the two hour drive north to Boston or south to New York City makes it a very special occasion when a heavy show rolls up to this venue.

Yet, so it was when extreme metal pioneers Meshuggah arrived as the headliner for one of the most anticipated tours year. With support from fellow metal titans In Flames and Whitechapel, the trio took the Constitution State by storm through a night of melody and brutality.

With the words "The mouth of Hell is open wide tonight", Whitechapel vocalist Phil Bozeman summed up precisely what the evening ahead would be all about. Despite a criminally short set of just thirty minutes, the Tennesee sextet made every moment count starting from the words cited above, taken from "Let Me Burn" off 2014's Our Endless War.

Despite nearing five years since its release, fans were still beyond eager to belt out every word to the three cuts from The Valley. Between "Forgiveness Is Weakness", "Brimstone" and "We Are One", the seas of the mosh pit began to churn as the energy in the room increased with each song.

Dialing up the groove to maximum, "A Bloodsoaked Symphony" served as the lone offering from 2021's Kin.

Returning again to Our Endless War, closer "The Saw Is the Law" had the crowd on their feet and belting the anthemic chorus.

Having toured extensively earlier in the year, this run preceeds a bit of down time for Whitechapel, other than an upcoming Christmas benefit show in their hometown of Knoxville. Still, that leaves 2024 wide open for new music and shows which no doubt fans old and new cannot wait for.

As one of the three architects of the melodic death metal sub-genre, alongside At the Gates and Dark Tranquility, Sweden's own In Flames needed no introduction. With a career spanning fourteen releases over three decades, fifty minutes was barely enough time to pack their very best into a single set.

Starting the set with "Foregone Pt. 1", In Flames was proud to serve up some material from their latest release, Foregone, to North American audiences for the first time since the album was released this February.

Switching gears to a trio of songs from 2011's Sounds of a Playground Fading, "Deliver Us", "Darker Times" and "All for Me" gave guitarist Björn Gelotte the first of several chances to demonstrate his immense soloing skills.

Switching gears to a trio of songs from 2011's Sounds of a Playground Fading, "Deliver Us", "Darker Times" and "All for Me" gave guitarist Björn Gelotte the first of several chances to demonstrate his immense soloing skills.

On the subject of guitar work, many in the crowd were surprised and delighted to see master axeman Chris Broderick (formerly of Megadeth and Act of Defiance) on stage. Originally a touring member, Broderick has since joined In Flames full time and made his full-length album debute on Foregone. Blending the gold standard of In Flames with his neo-classical stylings, "State of Slow Decay" gave Wallingford a taste of exciting music still to come.

As vocalist Anders Fridén introduced the band, a roar of approval came from the crowd for bassist Liam Wilson (also of The Dillinger Escape Plan), who only just joined In Flames early this year. Charging through fan favorites "Cloud Connected" and "Behind Space", the dancefloor errupted one more time for closing cut "Take This Life".

As a sign of a new generation of metal fans coming of age, a handful of young headbangers donning In Flames shirts could be heard belting the words to the chorus while their parents, perhaps followed of the band since the early days, looked on proudly.

Chances are, if your band creates such complex music that it serves as a subject for PhD dissertations, you have made something incredibly special. Such is the case for Meshuggah, whose work has pushed the boundaries of music for since 1987.

With the lights dimming, a brief public service annoucement request the audience to put down their phones and beware of intense strobe lights before cutting into a few moments of the late George Michael's "Careless Whisper".

Cheeky intro aside, the thunderous chugs of "Broken Cog" was a slow, menacing warm up to the ninety minute set to come. With the crowd more than ready to go, the ice cold rasp of vocalist Jens Kidman and spine shattering groove of "Rational Gaze" and "Perpetual Black Second" off 2002's Nothing was the spark that ignited the mosh pit.

Coming in like a freight train through a glass factory, "Born In Dissonance" from 2016's The Violent Sleep of Reason saw the first crowd surfers make their way over the barricade. Meanwhile "The Abysmal Eye" tested the neck strength of everyone in the room who dared to try banging their heads in time with the riffs of guitarist Mårten Hagström and Fredrik Thordendal.

Demonstrating their incredible stamina, the nearly twenty minute sequence of "Mind's Mirror", "In Death - Is Life" and "In Death - Is Death", all off 2005's Catch Thirtythree, was a trip through all of time and space.

Turning the clock back to 1995, the opening notes to "Future Breed Machine" are and forever will be as iconic as the emergency broadcast signal buzzer - a forewarning of a major disaster at hand. Those who do not wish to get caught in it have just moments to get out of the pit before an avalanche of sound comes crashing down.

Returning to the stage after a brief break for the encore, one word rang out again and again from the crowd as a deafening chant: BLEED, BLEED, BLEED.

With a thumbs up from Kidman and the human drum machine known as Tomas Haake, "Bleed", the very song that inspired the aforementioned scholarly work began. After a four year absence from the setlist, anyone who had starting heading for the exit came running back to the dancefloor to get in on the action. Even mini-moshpits broken out in the seated section to bask in the might.

Taking their final bow with "Demiurge" from 2012's Koloss, the metal masterclass concluded with fans left winded, yet, anxiously awaiting ther next visit from Sweden's finest.

Press and photo pass courtesy of Earsplit PR/Earsplit Compound


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